by Kelly Davidson on Dec. 19, 2019
I met Saraswathi Jones on tour. She sang and played ukulele in a band called the Michael J Epstein Memorial Library, which I had joined as a stand-in bassist.
We stayed friends long after that tour. And when she got engaged, she reached out and asked if I would photograph a ‘punk rock Indian bride ‘n groom.’ I said yes. Hells yes.
I got into photography by way of music. I worshipped Mark Seliger, Annie Leibowitz and David LaChapelle. I studied Joe Toreno, Jeremy Weiss and Michael Lavine. I covered the Boston music scene like a boss for years and years for The Boston Phoenix, bands and labels.
Shooting my friends’ punk rock Indian engagement shoot would suit me just fine.
We scheduled and rescheduled nearly 20 times. The soon-to-be groom lived out of town, everyone was busy and Boston weather sometimes, well, sucks.
Finally, on a rainy day in May, we made it happen. After our first burst of images around the Boston Public Library and Back Bay T station, we headed to my shared studio in Somerville. My studio mate and friend, Dave Green, assisted me. We hadn’t planned on a studio shoot, but had fun swapping backdrops and changing the light, trying to capture a gritty punk rock aesthetic with respect and love.
Toward the end of the shoot, I asked if I could recreate Mark Seliger’s image of Gillian Anderson licking David Duchovny from his book, Physiognomy. I absolutely loved the original image but wanted to see more of Saraswathi. So I had her look directly at me and let the soon-to-be groom lick away.
I still love this image. It’s a tribute to one of my favorite photographs by one of my favorite photographers. And it’s pretty cool they got in a little trouble for it. That’s pretty punk rock.
“We had an incredibly fun time doing this engagement shoot with Kelly, rainy day and all. We'd forgotten how easy it was to "get in trouble" as grown adults with our conservative family, many of whom were briefly scandalized by the pic.”
- Saraswathi Jones
A photography friend once told me that personality is 90% of the job. I scoffed at the thought of it. Are you serious? How could a photojournalism degree and over a decade of professional experience only amount to 10% of my job? Then it sank in a little. I am, we agreed, a social animal. And that does translate into a reliable ability to make people comfortable around the camera. Which is a huge part of getting the right shot.