From the Archives: Beck 1996

Words & Pictures: Ross Harris

Filmmaker and photographer Ross Harris has an incredible archive of photos, not least of all this gallery from a 1996 shoot with Beck. Here’s the backstory from Ross:

‘It was 1996 and I had just spent the year watching Beck create his classic cut-up album, Odelay. We met in downtown LA to shoot some possible promo pics. I had 24 exposures of black & white film and Beck had a cheap tan corduroy suit he’d picked up at a thrift spot. We met up on Broadway and decided to walk the length of the street and see what we could get into. The Broadway of ’96 was a slightly different beast than the one that exists today. This was pre-gentrification: no boutique hotels or bespoke breweries. All the crumbling movie palaces had turned to Jesus for salvation. But it was a great place to buy a cheap boombox or a fake social security card. Beck grew up less than a mile west in the Rampart/Westlake district, so we weren’t exactly stealing shots for street cred. He’d saved up money to buy an off-brand walkman from these same shops as a kid. I had just discovered that my camera could shoot a second shot without advancing the frame, so I decided to try some in-camera double exposures. We knocked out one in front of a place called ‘Jewels by Shawn’. It sounded like Paul’s Boutique to me but Shawn was not impressed and told us to move along. A giant cell phone caught our eye and we snapped a couple more (little did we know how that device would end up taking over our entire lives in a few short years). At the end of the street, we ran across a group of gentlemen screaming through megaphones about the end days and UFOs. With my last exposure, I finally captured a truly candid shot of Beck. End times indeed.’


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