On and “Off The Record” – With Larry Lourcey
It has been said that, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”, but in the case of Dallas PPA’s own Larry Lourcey, M. Photog., CPP, the phrase should be more like, imitation is “an incredible learning process..”. Lourcey’s “Off The Record” project started out in January 2014 as a single image of his friend, Julie Spero, who wanted a portrait of her dressed in a Pocahontas outfit similar to that worn by Cher on her “Half Breed” album cover. During the discussion of that album cover other album ideas came up, “As we continued discussing it, we thought of several other cool album covers that would be fun to recreate. Since she (Julie) is a hair/makeup artist, we decided it would be fun to collaborate on a whole series of covers.” And thus a yearlong project was born.
Lourcey said he misses the vinyl album, if for no other reason than the 12”x12” large format allowed for more accessible artwork on the outside cover. With CD’s now being almost a footnote in music history, and no one really looking at the artwork associated with downloads, vinyl albums continue to maintain their place in Pop Culture art history and appear to be coming back in a big way. The once considered dead music format has seen a major sales boom in the last couple of years, with a record setting 52% increase in sales between 2013-2014.
So in those early weeks of January 2014 Lourcey posted on his blog, and on Facebook, an open request for album ideas that people would like to replicate. “I posted the concept- with a sample image of me (a very precise copy of Elvis Costello’s – This Year’s Model) - on Facebook and asked for volunteers. The deal was, they had to do all the legwork like location, costumes, props etc. Julie would do hair and makeup and I would photograph and finish out the image.”
In all, Larry produced 20 album covers, for the yearlong personal project, but understanding completely that this was just that, a personal project. “It certainly isn’t a “get rich quick” plan when you do a personal project. You have to keep focused on the real benefit- growing as an artist. You have to trust that making yourself a better photographer will make you more valuable to your clients and will allow you to charge more AND be more picky about the type of work you do. For me, it’s about creating images that I’m really proud of. And Lourcey should know, given that he was awarded with two PPA Loan Prints from his previous project, (40@Forty) and this project is no exception, “…(I) have already had one of the album covers go Loan- which was cool.”
Larry knew that this project was not going to be easy because he would have to precisely duplicate another artists’ work. “It is an incredible learning process when you try to replicate an existing image. It takes some work to really break down the image, especially the lighting, camera angle, posing, etc. You can’t just photograph things the way YOU would do it, you have to do it the way the original photographer did it-which can be frustrating.” He also mentioned that, “the process really changed from image to image.” When asked what advice he would give other photographers who might be thinking of starting a personal project, Lourcey said, “By far, the biggest obstacle is coming up with the concept. Once you have a plan in mind, it is easy to start filling in the details.”
In the beginning of the “Off The Record” project, Lourcey had several “volunteers” contribute ideas that the team completed early in process, and then he opened it up for more participants. “Once the initial group of volunteers passed, we had some albums we wanted to do and I approached specific people asking them to pose. There was really no rhyme or reason to the whole thing.” Lourcey then came face to face with human nature,”… like most photographic projects, even though it lasted most of 2014, we did 90% of the images in the last couple of months of the project. People love to procrastinate.” Of course, with any project of this size there are always going to be unforgettable moments, “The Go-Go’s cover was very early on in the project, before I realized how difficult things were going to be. We couldn’t get the cold cream to stay on the women’s faces without running. The whole thing was just so ridiculous, because they are sitting there in towels and we are just piling on handfuls of cream to keep their faces covered. (We) ended up having to fill in some holes in Photoshop later, but we got pretty close.
Even before “Off The Record” was finished a gallery showing was decided, so Larry contacted the Courtyard Theater in Plano. Lourcey explains, “I ended up having my show in a non-standard gallery situation. It is basically in a reception area next to a theater, but it is a beautiful space. It also attracts people who are interested in the arts, which is a nice bonus.
The gallery showing opened on January 28 to an enthusiastic gathering of family, friends and fellow photographers. All the “Off The Record” canvases are displayed together, on the bottom floor in the two-story theater, along with a couple of dozen other works by Lourcey, including several PPA Loan Prints. However, one particular image is missing, the one that started the yearlong project. “Ironically, we never were able to track down the costume for the Cher shot. We settled instead on Madonna’s iconic “Like A Virgin” cover, which we barely completed before the deadline. So the project is based on an album that didn’t make the exhibit. Weird, huh?”
So, what’s next for Larry Lourcey? Perhaps a follow up album? “Well there were rumors of having a “Part 2” where I work on all the iconic albums that I didn’t get a chance to do, but I don’t see that happening. Once I finish a project, I generally prefer to move on. I DO have a new project in the works, but it is still in the planning stages and will be an entirely different departure from the album project. Keep your fingers crossed that it works out!
We hope it’s a another ‘record setting” project.