Seven Stories: Bobby Cochran
Photographer: Bobby Cochran
Based in: Bay Area
I’d only been using a camera for about 4 months, and this was the first show I’d ever shot (as is evidenced by the poor quality photo). It was kinda amazing I got to do it in the first place, because Wovenhand are of one of my favorite all-time bands. I’d got the hookup to get into the show through a mutual friend of guitarist Chuck French’s, and I was nervous as hell. I didn’t get very close to the stage, and the light in this venue was (and still is) really terrible for photography. I’d seen Wovenhand a number of times over the years, but this was the first time I’d come home with something I’d created while experiencing the music I’d come to know and love so much. Wovenhand’s record label, Sargent House, posted this photo on their Instagram, which was not only a delightful surprise, but also gave me the inspiration to keep going with music photography. I began a relationship with Sargent House that eventually led to them using a number of my photos for their website and band promotion, which I’m very grateful for.
In my youth during the late 80s and early 90’s, I’d been playing in bands and going to countless shows, but during the subsequent 20 years or so, my life had taken me in other directions and going to see a show was rare for me. Shooting Deafheaven at San Francisco’s Rickshaw Stop was the first time since those ancient times I found myself back in the pit amongst swarming, sweaty bodies, surprised to find myself grinning from ear to ear, holding my camera above my head trying to not let it get smashed and snapping as many photos as I could. The exhilaration of youth came rushing back. I was still pretty green as a photographer, but I think I got lucky with a few shots from this show that turned out much better than I’d expected.
THREE: Self Portraits
When I first started taking pictures, my Dad gave me his old Minolta dual-reflex camera he’d bought new in the late 50’s. Excited to start experimenting, I bought a few rolls of film and wandered around shooting random stuff, including this self-portrait in my bathroom mirror. Weeks later (and before I’d developed my film), my Dad sent me some scans of photos he’d taken with the Minolta back in the day. I saw his self-portrait in the mirror and thought I might’ve taken something similar, but I couldn’t really remember. When I got my film back, I juxtaposed the two images together and reeled at the amazing similarities. My Dad’s self-portrait and mine, taken with the same camera almost 60 years apart.
FOUR: Charley Crockett
Charley is a honkey-tonk/blues/soul musician I’ve had the pleasure of knowing for the last number of years. When we first met, Charlie was a rambler, a guy with a guitar crisscrossing the US and Europe hitchhiking, busking, crashing on floors and couches, and playing music when and wherever he could. He’d landed in Mendocino County for a bit and was living with a friend of mine, and I booked him to play in a little café in town I was managing at the time. Eventually, I ended up playing drums in his band for local gigs (whenever he wasn’t out on the road), and once I started taking pictures, he hired me to make some portraits of him. A couple years ago, he headed back to his home state of Texas to double down and put all his time and effort into building a solid music career. To chase the dream. His hard work is paying off, and he’s on the cusp of some real success, touring with renowned national acts, selling out venues all over Texas and Louisiana, and recently signing a record deal with Thirty Tigers Records. I took this photo as he about to hit the stage in front of a sold out crowd opening for the Turnpike Troubadours in SF. It was my first time seeing him with his touring band, and I was blown away. I’m proud of this man’s work and dedication, and delighted to see where it’s taking him. He’s worked his ass off for every single bit of it.
FIVE: King Woman
I took this photo at King Woman’s record release show in Oakland earlier this year, a pinnacle moment for them in their rapidly burgeoning career. I first met singer Kristina Esfandiari when I interviewed her for Cvlt Nation, and I quickly learned what a sharp, intelligent, and thoughtful person she is, in addition to being an intense and compelling performer. I’ve been able to photograph King Woman a number of times, and was fortunate enough to have one of my portraits of the band grace the back cover of their debut release on Relapse Records, Created In The Image Of Suffering. A pinnacle moment for me, as well.
SIX: Mendocino National Forest
I’m blessed to live in a beautiful place, and spend as much time outdoors as possible. I ventured into landscape photography at the beginning of my photography career, and fell in love with the process. In many ways it’s the Yin to live music photography’s Yang. It requires a stillness and quiet observation, a good deal of patience and a little bit of luck, and is almost always done when there isn’t another human anywhere near me. But like live music photography, sometimes you find yourself at the right place at the right time and come away with an image that captures something magical that couldn’t have been anticipated.
SEVEN: Fakir Musafar
In 1989, I discovered a book called Modern Primitives, which was the first major exposé on the secret underground world of body modification in the US. This book would end up having a huge impact on my life for many years to come, and opened doors I never knew existed. One of the main people featured in MP was a fascinating man named Fakir Musafar, who’s now known as the Grandfather of the body modification movement. His story of teaching himself self-modification techniques beginning in his youth in the 1950s is an incredible one (if you aren’t familiar, do yourself a favor and read up on it), and he’s still at it now in his late 80’s. In the early 2000s, Fakir and I ended up having some friends in common and I had the pleasure of getting to know him. He’s a delightful man and a talented photographer as well. I took this portrait of him on a penthouse deck near downtown San Francisco last year.