Know Your Camera Like Furry Knows the Guitar

Furry sings the Blues and enjoyed every minute of it.  Mr. Furry Lewis is a major player in the history of Acoustic Delta Blues.  Slide guitar is his instrument.  What is your instrument?  The camera, maybe.  Learn it like Furry or Muddy or Eric or Stevie or Jimmy or Chet learned their guitar.  Once learned you can make decisions about how to play it and which songs to play.  But, learn it well.


I remember my early days of learning the camera and moving all the controls to arrive at the well exposed, in-focus photo.  If you are new, believe me you’ll make it.  Think of it the same as those who play an instrument.  Live with the sheet music

and learn the notes, the scales, the chords.  OR, learn your camera, read the lessons and move to the same level that folks do with an instrument.  Players start by staring at the neck of the instrument and looking at the sheet music or notes non-stop.  And somewhere in the journey it all comes natural.  I’ve seen it.  You’ve seen it.  The feel and emotion take over and off they go.  When we see these legends of guitar, they’ve learned, they’ve paid dues and what we see is true expression of their art.  Kinda like our goal for OUR art. Or our business.  Learn all you can about the aperture, the shutter speeds, the focus and auto-focus, the ISO, the exposure value.  So learn it and then set it aside and create.  Make that great shot.

So watch Furry and listen close to his level of perfection.  It’s gotta be rough. It’s that rough that many have tried to learn.  Inside his playing there’s bass, there’s rhythm, there’s lead and a heavy dose of entertainment.  Furry had a heart bigger than his small frame.  He was missing a leg from a train accident at an early age and would invite folks to his Mosby address in Memphis to visit.  I’m very thankful someone made this video.


I met Furry.  My good friend Paige Martin and I enjoyed Blues and especially slide guitar and Furry was playing at Lafayette’s Music Room so off we go.  It was magical.  Tobacco Road was playing there so Furry had a stage that included a sharecropper shack and other props from the theatrical production.  We got there early and Furry was setting up.  He was a cut-up always with a big smile and we hit it off.  Front row is where we sat and Furry was drinking whiskey.  Regularly he would need a refill.  From the stage he would ask his new friends (Paige and I) to make the trip to the bar and replace his empty on stage.  Before the show we were able to chat and get to know this legend of slide guitar.  Furry’s blues playing was something big the Rolling Stones and Keith Richards had studied and they came calling at his home.  He felt that they were friendly and very respectful.  His honesty came thru in talking about some other famous artists that had visited. The Stones had been in Memphis for four days before they and Furry played before record-setting 61,000 fans at the Liberty Bowl stadium.  A chunk of the 4 days spent getting to know Furry.  Our visit with Furry ended that night and even though we were invited to 811 Mosby, his home, I never saw Furry again.  My loss.

So, know your camera and reach the same technical level of a player that influened bluesmen that influenced early rockers that influenced today’s rockers.  Where all the technical stuff is in the background and you just create. So just hang in there and learn.  Learn the settings and the focus and all the options.  Emotion and fun and expressing will take over and you’ll make your best shots.

BTW if you’re not as much of a fan of the gutsy delta blues of Furry then you might see the smooth “know your instrument” feel of this 1980 video from another true master, Stevie Ray Vaughn.  Enjoy.




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