Talking Pictures By Her Aim Is True director, Karen Whitehead
Embarking on this journey to tell the unknown story of pioneering rock and roll photographer, Jini Dellaccio, I had no idea how deeply immersed I would become in a fascinating dialogue with the community around Her Aim Is True about the impact of photography, as an art form and why it matters so much. I think the documentary’s contributors have given the film’s audiences at upcoming film festival screenings a chance to place Dellaccio’s remarkable archive in a broader context than an undiscovered archive of cool band shots taken in the mid 1960s. By the end of the film, I am confident viewers will feel Dellaccio’s life in art resonates with so much in our own lives and how we choose to connect with the world around us.
I had two immediate reactions the first time I experienced Jini Dellaccio’s unusual photos of garage punk rockers hanging out in (trees) in her Pacific Northwest backyard.Firstly, whether they were peering at the camera through mist and tree branches or striking poses against the foggy banks of Puget Sound, these images are anything but still. In the process of photographing young, and many soon to be legendary musicians, Jini captured something else – and did so with a sensibility rarely seen in photography before her. Here’s what rock photographer Alice Wheeler (Nirvana, Neko Case) had to say when we interviewed her for the film:
“You can tell she’s really getting into the heads of the people she’s photographing …when it’s just the one camera, the person and the band and you’re out on an adventure… your outside somewhere and you’ve got to got through out all these physical things and you get them to loosen up and climb the tree like some of her photos are, “ Climb the tree”, or “Pose this way,” or “Play with your guitars,” or “pose your Beatle boots tall so we can see them” or when I would shoot everyone had tennis shoes(that was grunge!), not Beatle Boots. Women photographers I think we have a slightly different point of view and our subjects react to us a little bit different…”
This brings me to my second response to Jini Dellaccio’s fascinating archive. Jini was not merely producing publicity stills for bands that needed album covers. Jini was taking photography in a new direction, with her unique approach there is no doubt she was truly documenting the bands and the music subculture they were creating for themselves. You may not know all the bands Jini photographed but how she photographed them has a timeless quality and style rare for that time period. Another renowned Grunge-era photographer, Charles Peterson, really pinpointed this in his interview during production.
“One of my favorite Jini photos is a picture of The Wailers playing during sound check, and it’s in like a high school gym or something like that with some windows behind them and they’re in their cardigans and just their casual clothes, they haven’t changed out to their stage costumes yet. And that could be any slovenly indie rock band today.”
Often art is regarded as giving expression to the human condition, exploring who we are, defining humanity. What drew me to make this film is very much bound up with my first reactions to her work and my sense that Jini’s archive is in the same league as “great art” because, as so many of the film’s interviewees remarked, Jini’s photography makes you feel something. Delving into Dellaccio’s archive you get an incredible sense of Jin’ s compassion. The bonds with those early rock and rollers are all in that click of her Hasselblad: she painted the musicians’ true pictures.
The photo Peterson is referring to was taken in Tacoma, 1964. You can see it in the trailer in our cool lightening tour through Dellaccio’s stunning archive.Click here