Guest Post: How We Live is How We Make Art

A special guest posting by Dan Neumann, rough-cut editor for Her Aim is True

I have been involved in the documentary since August and as we are busy developing the film’s central theme of an independent spirit that pervaded Jini’s photography and the Sixties garage rock scene she was capturing in the Pacific Northwest, Karen and I have recognized another important element of this story: Jini’s role as a mentor to creative people.

In the interviews, Steve Lalor, the guitarist and singer of Seattle’s premiere psychedelic band the Daily Flash, recalls a photo shoot when the band members and Jini wandered the vaulted chambers of the Suzzallo library at the University of Washington where Jini talked with them about their music and lives, not bothering to take out a camera until late in the day.  Bandmate Doug Hastings was surprised that this older woman, who Merrilee Rush described as “a Katharine Hepburn-type”, was so interested in their stories and that she somehow made him feel like someone worth having his picture taken.  Flash forward to the 2010 Taking Aim rock photography exhibition in Seattle, where a new generation of rock photographers were discovering Jini’s photography.  Backstage Alice Wheeler, who has shot the likes of Nirvana and Neko Case, was surprised at how quickly she and Jini bonded.  She said she had never had such an easy and open friendship with another woman in the competitive environment of the music business.

For me, while editing the footage, I have begun to see that openness is Jini’s creative methodology.  It was her openness that allowed her to pick up a camera in her late thirties, after she had to give up her jazz career, and quickly master a medium she had only superficial experience with.  And it was openness that allowed her to be ready and confident when Etiquette records called her up one day and wanted her to do an album cover for the Wailers.  And it was her openness that allowed her to rediscover photography in old age after her husband of 58 years passed and go back out to shoot a reunited Sonics and a new folk quartet in Seattle, the Moondoggies.  In this time when we are expected to be boldly active in our grandiose schemes, Jini’s story reminds us that how we treat people, and how we open ourselves to their influences, is fundamental to the quality of what we put out into the world.