Bob Marley may have the title of Album Of The Century next to his name for 1977’s ‘Exodus’ bestowed by Time Magazine. His song ‘One Love’ may have been declared Song Of The Millennium by the BBC, and he may, posthumously, sell innumerable album copies a year to this day. This makes him sound like a titan of industry, a mogul, rather than a Jamaican ‘bwoy’ from St. Ann who was larger than life. He was, by all accounts, a visionary.
For many who hadn’t grown up around his music or his culture, the visions of this visionary were still always around, in every corner of the world Bob was there, and usually in the form of photographs taken by Dennis Morris. In 1974, 16 year-old Morris met Marley and the meeting would usher in a friendship and timeless photographs which have earned their status as truly iconic.
‘Bob Marley, Giant’ is a video that gives an introspective look into the life of Marley through the lens and mind of Morris. Complete with photo examples most will recognize, and the stories behind them, Morris goes into detail about what it was like to photograph a force like Bob; why he thinks he was kept around, his thoughts on piracy of his images, and more. (Video at foot of post)
Growing up in Jamaica, and living in J.A, I think there was a tendency to view Bob Marley as something a little different than what he was seen as from foreigners. You generally won’t find posters of him around campuses in Jamaica the way you would here in the US. He’s not the first thing Jamaican expats think about when they reminisce (my Grandparents would quicker think of Harry Belafonte), and it’s been my experience his music is more often played elsewhere. Yet at the same time, his presence is sort of always there. As he became for the rest of the world, he became for Jamaicans, a byword for the country, and Jamaicans as a people; whites, blacks, Asian, and even like me, and Indian boy from Kingston… ‘Out Of Many One People,’ I guess.
I’ve always wanted to know more about the photos of Bob. This video is a really nice glimpse into his personality, and his appreciation of our craft. I especially loved the short interview with Native Wayne Jobson when he is describing his views on photography. It makes me think of what Bob himself would have thought.
It’s also wonderful to see the focus on the composition and emotion of the shots themselves. I get highly irritated and bored with photos I see all the time that evoke no emotion. I feel there’s this ultimate focus on technical execution and less about feeling. Put up a slightly blurred or out of focus image for critique and you’ll have your head bitten off. But it’s work like thi that can have a good hand in illustrating that the great photos aren’t always the ‘good’ ones.