The title of this post is purposely stolen from David Bowie. When I think about the people who have had the greatest impact on my development as an artist he's at the top. He helped me through a difficult teenage phase and he stayed relevant for every step after that. He was my big brother, the guy who taught me life hurts, but that pain isn't always a bad thing. He taught me that adapting to life is a strength, because there are ways to do it on your own terms with no compromises and no apologies.
Which is why the photo accompanying this post is the only color photo I will probably ever publish on this site. (You can read below why this isn't a better photo.)
I took a lot of photos of Bowie on October 16, 1995 at McNichols Arena in Denver, Colorado, and this is the best shot I got that night. Why? Because Bowie and his band were on tour with Nine Inch Nails, so the venue set up a mosh pit between the stage and the photographers, which meant I had to take the photos from very far away. This image is from a slide I took that night and it is uncropped, like all of my photos. I had a very good and fast telephoto lens, but between the lighting, the distance, and the stage effects, I never had a chance to get a better photo. But I did what David Bowie taught me: to do the best with what I had available. I absolutely love this photo, although I deeply regret not getting a better shot, and I share it with both pride and humility.
True yet embarrassing story: I saw Bowie perform the lead role in the play The Elephant Man in Denver in 1980. I saw a Sunday matinee of the play with some friends. We hung around the stage door afterward with maybe 5 other people, but our group decided we should head home. I fully supported that decision, and I was probably the one who suggested we leave. I later heard Bowie eventually came out of that same door and when he saw the few people who were waiting for him, he invited them to his hotel's restaurant for tea before he had to get ready for the evening show. I really hope that's not true, but every now and then I realize it probably is true and it makes me sad.
If you aren't familiar with it, you should check out this YouTube video to see a little bit of Mr. Bowie's performance in The Elephant Man. Seeing him in this play was instrumental in my decision to become an actor back in the day. Maybe I'll talk about that in more detail in some future posts.