“There’s certainly a decisive moment when photographing nature,” David Randall (Randy) Blythe says. “You’re waiting for the wind to move the trees so the lines are right. You’re waiting for the golden hour when the light is diffuse. There are leading lines in the ocean drawn by waves and tides.”
There’s a poetry and a deep value system that informs Blythe’s expression in his many creative pursuits: as a photographer; as a lyricist and singer for his Grammy-nominated heavy metal band, Lamb of God; as a writer of a 500-page memoir, Dark Days; and as a surfer.
For his upcoming exhibit, “A Longer View,” at the Leica Gallery in Boston, he asks viewers to consider various aspects of the environment—a subject he thinks we must prioritize for the health of future generations. “In my mind there’s no excuse for the cavalier disregard with which we treat our planet—our only home,” he says.
The images, drawn from his travels across the world, complement and contrast with each other. The series combines three themes: environmentally-focused protests, images of the human impact on nature and landscape shots of pristine natural beauty. Says Blythe, “I try to take something that concerns me and put it through my personal filter, and hopefully the original intent comes through and the audience can make it their own.”
Blythe doesn’t think twice about environmental activism. A native of the coastal regions of Virginia, Blythe went to Standing Rock to support the water protectors protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. Rolling Stone got wind of his presence there and commissioned an article and his photos for publication.
Photography, he says, has become inseparable from his life, informing his values. “[Photography] is a tool of self-discovery for me; it’s how I understand myself and my life in that particular moment,” he says.
Influenced by the romantic street shots of Henri Cartier-Bresson’s Paris and friends with photographer and musician Nikki Sixx of Mötley Crüe, Blythe looked to the tools they used to capture the decisive moment: namely, the Leica M.
The first time he used the camera, he had borrowed it to shoot friends Duff McKagen and Slash of Guns N’ Roses. Describing the process of photographing them like a slow dance, he says the manual nature of the camera and the solid glass allowed him to stay in the moment with his subject rather than ‘spray and pray.’ That’s not how Blythe likes to shoot. Although metal music may have connotations of male aggression and machismo, Blythe is understated and self-aware.
Fast forward to today, Blythe doesn’t leave his house or a tour bus without his Leica M, he says, always on the hunt for pictures that reflect how he see’s the world. “[With photography] I remove my tinted glasses,” he says. “I’m hoping my intent will come across to viewers and make them question their own deeply entrenched belief structures. Everything needs to become a lot more ethical or we’ll no longer have a planet to call home.”
Learn more about the Leica M by visiting www.leicacamerausa.com.
—Sponsored by Leica