Chalkie Davies

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The British rock photographer Chalkie Davies is associated so strongly with the look of many of new wave rock's classic recordings that it is fair to question whether the music would have been the same…
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The British rock photographer Chalkie Davies is associated so strongly with the look of many of new wave rock's classic recordings that it is fair to question whether the music would have been the same without him. The presumption is based on the importance of image in rock music, a point that certainly does not require extended stretching. In this case it was the crystalline shots of artists such as Elvis Costello and the Buzzcocks, often utilizing a color mix that brought to mind a rich technicolor Western from Hollywood. In some ways it promised a sharper sense of thinking than the fuzzy, out-of-focus heroes of the psychedelic era. The real source of inspiration was an earlier photographer, David Bailey, associated with London's swinging scene in the pre-mod years.

Davies was regularly employed by New Music Express, a music magazine that was at one point powerful enough that its main contributors became in a sense tastemakers. Davies extended this influence beyond the range of his lenses, also contributing reviews as well in which he philosophized on subjects such as the "logical synthesis of the heady impatience of early Buzzcocks." In 1981, the photographer published a collection of his portraits of groups and personalities entitled Pointed Portraits. Many of the shots are posed in settings of Davies' invention.