Rock photographer Deborah Chesher photographed musicians when “the music business was about the music”, self-published a new book of her work, blogged about the process, and told us all about the journey. Her book, Everyone I Shot is Dead, is required reading for everyone who loves music, rock stars or wanted to be a rock star.
FBLA: How did you decide to do the book?
DC: One day the thought “everybody I shot is dead” crossed my mind. After mulling it over for a while, I decided to pay tribute to the wonderful musicians I had the privilege to photograph who had since passed away. I originally thought it might be a small book of 20 but it turned out there were 48, plus a few more whose photos I seem to have lost.
How did you round up all your negatives (this is film, not digital, for the most part, right?)
DC: They’re all film. Except in the front of the book there’s a small picture of my empty slide boxes with musician’s names on them that I shot digitally.
All the photos had been stored away in boxes since the early 80s. I had no idea what I would find or even if the photographs were any good. It turned into a real treasure hunt. Finding negatives without contact sheets and putting them in the scanner and having them materialize on my computer screen.. It was an amazing experience.
You set up your own publishing company to do the book?
DC: Yes. I also published my first book, Starart, in late ’79. It is a coffee table book exhibiting the artwork of musicians Joni Mitchell, John Mayall, Ron Wood, Commander Cody, Klaus Voormann and Cat Stevens. I had many many offers on that book from the big NY pub houses but when they couldn’t guarantee the quality of the production I had promised the artists I turned them down. Fortunately, publishing Starart myself turned out to be a good thing–the book has become a collector’s item. I’ve seen used copies of the trade hardcover sell for $500.