Dec 13, 2010
Henry Butler, pianist extraordinaire, will now be recognized in another medium for which he excels – photography. The photographs of the legendary sight-impaired jazz and blues musician are the subject of a new documentary which begins airing on HBO this month entitled, “Dark Light: The Art Of Blind Photographers.” Butler is extensively profiled in the film alongside two other sight-impaired photographers – Peter Eckert and Bruce Hall.
“Dark Light: The Art Of Blind Photographers” explores the creativity of innovative artists who transcend their physical limitations. Directed and produced by renowned photographer Neil Leifer (best known for his classic shot of Muhammad Ali standing over defeated opponent Sonny Liston), “Dark Light: The Art Of Blind Photographers” reveals the fascinating landscapes of the internal world of the blind and profiles artists who are drawn to photography for a variety of reasons, including creating an image for the sighted world they hold in their mind or capturing an image experienced through nature. The film has already generated excellent word-of-mouth at film festivals ..
Said Butler, “My approach to photography is partly intuitive and a bit intellectual. The intellectual aspect is realized mostly after the picture has been taken and developed – showing the photos to people, getting their take on the captured images. Over the years, I’ve realized that if I show one image to ten people, I will realize at least ten different interpretations of the image. The intuitive part happens in the beginning, and is based on my understanding and awareness of the environment where the image is taken. I usually ask my assistant questions about distance, lighting, color scheme, my position relative to the subject, etc. If I get answers that affirm my desires for shooting photos, I will do so. The decision to capture the image is mine alone.”
A nine-time W.C. Handy “Best Blues Instrumentalist - Piano” award nominee, Henry Butler knows no limitations. Although blinded by glaucoma since birth, Butler began playing piano since the age of six and is a master of musical diversity. Combining the percussive jazz piano playing of McCoy Tyner and the New Orleans style playing of Professor Longhair through his classically trained wizardry, Butler continues to craft a sound uniquely his own. A rich amalgam of jazz, Caribbean, classical, pop, blues and R&B influences, his music is as excitingly eclectic as that of his New Orleans birthplace. Butler and his band tour worldwide and his latest CD, PiaNOLA Live, was released in 2008 by Basin Street Records.