A jazz photographer writes about her work

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I am a photographer. Like most photographers I am fascinated by light. Light that interacts with form, space, and movement to create shadow, texture, and mood. I also have a passion for music. Jazz music. Jazz music tells a story. A story about life. Jazz has always been about expression of emotion, from pain and sadness to joy, exaltation, and humor. All of the musicians who have chosen to play this music have a commitment to that expression through their instrument.

The intimacy of the jazz club provides the setting for my photographs. It is in this environment that I attempt to recreate visually the mood and feeling of the music through the use of light and shadow.

I prefer to photograph during live performances, while the music is rich with energy and feeling. Improvisation is integral to jazz and it is equally important in the way I make the photograph. When I photograph a jazz musician I am combining what I see in the camera lens, what I feel from the people around me, and what I feel from the music that is being played. It must all merge at one moment to tell the story.

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In the process of trying to tell the story through photographs my special respect for women jazz artists has emerged and grown. Jazz has been primarily a male-dominated art form, a subculture where women have been on the periphery. As Linda Dahl describes in her book ``Stormy Weather -- The Music and Lives of a Century of Jazz Women,'' ``The historian of women's music finds a long and quite illustrious group of women who have participated in jazz from the beginning. Often they've been buried in footnotes, or in the memories of other musicians. A minority to be sure -- and they probably will be for some time to come: women playing jazz, recording it, leading bands, writing, arranging, producing albums, managing groups, concertizing.''

With the passage of time this group has grown. As a result, unique contributions to jazz music continue to be made due to the dedication and talent of many great women musicians. All of this has made it possible for me to capture some very special moments. Donna Paul

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