Friday, October 17, 2008

Photographer William Claxton Passes

Helina and Chet Baker, Redondo Beach, CA, 1955

William Claxton was best known for his candid portraits of jazz greats and other celebrities. He was considered, by many, the greatest photographer of the American jazz scene. Sadly, he is dead at 80.

Claxton's love affair with photography and jazz began when he was a young man. Learning the art of picture snapping with a Brownie box camera and wetting his appetite for music listening to his father's extensive collection of Big Band 78 LPs, Claxton began haunting Los Angeles' underground jazz clubs in the 1950s while a student at UCLA. Soon, Claxton and his camera were welcomed by musicians visiting Los Angeles.

Claxton became known for posing musicians in unorthodox outdoor settings, in a boat or emerging from the ocean with trumpet in hand. His work led him to snap equally candid photos of many of Hollywood luminaries.

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