Posts Tagged ‘bentonia’

I Have a USPS Stamp

ms-stampI’m pretty stoked about this, the US Postal Service just announced a stamp with one of my photos. It’s not a 1, 3 or even 20 Cent stamp, it’s a Forever one, First Class stamp, baby! It honors Mississippi’s designation as the birthplace of the blues & the photo is of the great Jimmy “Duck” Holmes. They go on sale early 2017. #honored #visitMS #Jimmyduckholmes #USPS#bluefrontcafe #foreverstamp #Bentonia #jukejoint

 Now for the official USPS statement: Mississippi Statehood (Statehood series)
This stamp celebrates the 200th anniversary of Mississippi statehood. Mississippi became the 20th state on Dec. 10, 1817. The stamp features a 2009 photograph showing a close-up of a guitar player’s hands. Mississippi is the birthplace of many legendary blues artists who created a uniquely American genre of music. Among states, the Magnolia State is 32nd in size, and with nearly three million people, it ranks 31st in population. Art director Greg Breeding designed the stamp with an existing photo taken by Lou Bopp

France Loves the Blues

The French entertainment web site Premiere recently did a nice write up on my blues project.  I’ve always been amazed as to how many Europeans I see in Mississippi, they love the music & the southern culture! To see the full piece click the article below.

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Wonderful Machine Blog

Click on the image below & take a journey to Wonderful Machine & read a blog by Liz Ream and get a little 411 on a recent project that we shot in MS, good stuff! Mississippi Magic!

 

14-05 MS Tourism Ramey AgencyPo Monkey, Merigold, MS February 2014

Featured in PDN May 2014

Great article in PDN about yours truly, written by writer Dzana Tsomondo. Thanks PDN!

PDN Online - May 2014

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EDITED BY CONOR RISCH

A portrait of “Mr. Johnnie” Billington, from Lou Bopp’s series “Blues Musicians.”


THIS MONTH: Lou Bopp’s portraits of blues musicians.

PRESERVATION
A personal project documenting blues musicians helped commercial photographer Lou Bopp land exhibitions and rediscover the passions that brought him to photography.

BY DZANA TSOMONDO

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TL Williams.

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Big George Brock.

THE MAN SMILES broadly, revealing several missing teeth, as he holds his callused and bandaged hands up to the camera, palms out. They are the tools of a blues musician and, even without a guitar, they tell one hell of a story. “Portraits of the Blues” by Lou Bopp is a fascinating visual compendium depicting—through portraits, landscapes and details—a fading culture and the musicians who helped build it, with their hands and guitars.

Bopp is a commercial photographer whose client list is packed with heavyweights like Time Warner, Sports Illustrated and American Express. He has worked all over the world, once shooting on three continents in a single day, but it wasn’t an assignment that brought him to rural

Mississippi, the birthplace of blues, it was his own love of the music. For Bopp, this project is first an act of documentation. He is keenly aware that the sun is setting on these aging musicians and with them, a golden era in American culture and music. “There are not a lot of young bluesmen in the pipeline unfortunately,” Bopp notes. “I have photographed 70 to 80 musicians and about half have already passed.”

Bopp credits his own curiosity for much of his success as a photographer; it’s also what inspired “Portraits of the Blues,” which is currently showing at August House Studio in Chicago. Bopp grew up a fan of artists like Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix. As he explored their influences, he found they invariably led back to the blues. Bopp became a fan of the music and years later that same investigative urge spurred him to ride his motorcycle down Route 61 from his home in Missouri to Clarksdale, Mississippi, a historic blues hotbed. What was intended to be a daytrip stretched into three or four days of roaming the Delta, searching for the music. That first spur-of-the-moment trip yielded photographs of legends Big George Brock and Robert “Wolfman” Belfour, along with an invaluable resource in Roger Stolle, a writer, artist and owner of Cat Head Delta Blues & Folk Art, a store in Clarksdale.

Connections proved invaluable to Bopp, as actually finding the musicians was and is the most difficult part of the project. Using an ever-expanding network of like minds and employing the occasional local fixer, Bopp found his way to the music, even if it meant being a long way from paved road. He makes it clear that a willingness to compensate his subjects went a long way; after all, some of the artists had made a good living playing the blues, but most hadn’t, regardless of their place in the canon. “I paid honorariums to everyone I shot,” he says. “Their time is valuable, my time is valuable. I respect people’s time.”

No matter his commercial workload, Bopp always makes time for personal projects. He credits his years spent working on the blues project in Mississippi with allowing him to “get back to the roots” of his love for photography. A penchant for travel and culture are what brought him to the art form, and that is what drove him back to Clarksdale, time and time again.

Bopp decided early on that he wanted to shoot the artists in their element, but not onstage. “I wanted to shoot them behind the scenes, at their homes,” Bopp explains. “One guy, Pat Thomas, I shot him at his father’s graveside. I wanted to get a little deeper and peel away the layer of their public persona.” His aim was to pull back the curtain, as it were, and capture something more intimate.

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LEFT: RL Boyce. RIGHT: Robert “Bilbo” Walker.


His photographs of Wesley “Junebug” Jefferson are a particularly poignant example. Roger Stolle put Bopp in touch with the obscure-but-legendary Delta bluesman, and though he was ailing, Jefferson invited the photographer to his home. The bedridden musician insisted on being photographed with his guitar and, unnerved but profoundly honored, Bopp obliged. Jefferson passed away only days later.

Unlike his commercial assignments with their attendant crews, production meetings and top-down creative direction, “Portraits of the Blues” has been a lean operation. Bopp works alone, traveling light and following his own compass. That challenge—and freedom—is part of why he finds the entire experience of pursuing his own projects so rewarding. He relies heavily on natural light, which he finds in abundance in the South. “The patina is beautiful, its got tons of character,” Bopp says. “Some guys got dressed up for me and some didn’t, I tried not to dictate things.”

Balancing the demands of his commercial work and “Portraits of the Blues” was a bit of a “juggling act,” but Bopp is proud to have never canceled any appointments—not with his ad clients and not in Mississippi. Structurally, his approach to shooting the images remained the same: get the “meat and potatoes” first. In one world that meant shooting the creative brief before trying to do it his way. In Mississippi it meant “think fast,” and make sure you get a shot you can use, all the while leaving “space for serendipitous moments,” he says.

Bopp’s income from his commercial work also allowed him to self-fund “Portraits of the Blues.” Surprisingly, chasing his passion in Mississippi would open the door for more commercial work when his images caught the attention of an agency in Jackson, Mississippi, which contacted him directly. What initially was going to be a simple licensing arrangement ended with Bopp directing four TV spots for the Mississippi Tourism Association.

August House Gallery, Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Chicago: August House Studio presents “The Mississippi Delta Blues Project.” Opening Friday, May 2, 6:00 – 9:00 PM and on exhibit through Saturday, May 24. The Mississippi Delta Blues Project is a photographic exhibition of the faces, places, talent and tragedy that define a unique American music genre – the blues. Artist Lou Bopp spent more than three years on the Delta Blues Trail capturing a generation of musicians who played a critical role in the development of the Blues and influenced performers worldwide. Portraits of musicians, some still performing, in juke joints and neighborhood saloons; the exhibition records the end of an era and pays tribute to the legends, locations and culture of the Mississippi Delta Blues.

Opening Reception, Friday, May 2, 6:00 – 9:00 PM.

Exhibit runs through May 24, 2014.

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About the Artist:

Lou Bopp, a commercial photographer based in St. Louis & New York, began his career at Sports Illustrated in 1992.  His work includes assignments for corporate clients, Time Warner, Deutsche Bank, McCann-Erickson and Amex.  Published work has appeared in Time, Newsweek, The New York Times and Money among many others.  He was cinematographer on the Blues documentary “We Juke Up in Here” (2012) and his photographs were included in The Hidden History of Mississippi Blues by Roger Stolle. (The History Press, 2011)

About August House Studio:

August House Studio opened its doors in 1987 and is located in the heart of Roscoe Village. Dedicated to making art part of everyday life, August House Studio presents up to 12 gallery exhibitions a year.  Focusing on 2-D contemporary and regional art, shows feature both solo artists and themed presentations on subjects ranging from baseball to birds.  Marya Veeck, Painter, owns and manages August House Studio.

For more information visit www.augusthousestudio.com, or 773-327-5644.   August House Studio, 2113 W. Roscoe, Chicago, IL 60618