Recently, Canadian photographer Chris Taylor went to Texas for a month with the mission of photographing Bill Callahan every other day for a month. He captured the heavy-hearted, baritone-voiced singer in and around his Austin home, and folded his intimate snapshops into a heavy, hard-bound book. Today marks the opening of an exhibition of his photos at New York’s Ed. Varie gallery. Read some words from the photographer on the genesis of The Life and Times of William Callahan below, and pre-order the book directly from the artist.
Back in 2008, I was wandering around some side streets in Spain and passed a record store with albums hanging up in the window. One of them stood out, and when I moved in closer, the chicken scratch cursive revealed itself. I paused, walked in and came out with an album called A River Ain’t Too Much To Love. Bill Callahan was Bill Callahan at the time when he made that album, but as a musician, he was called Smog. Slowly, a sixty-four-thousand dollar question built up in my mind. I eventually picked up a couple more records during a rocky spring-time I experienced after returning from Spain, I guess to help with whatever it was I was upset about. As a means to shake the ashes and sac cloth off, I thought about how I wanted to make pictures and even maybe time to start on my first artist book. I had a few ideas, but after I received a reply to an email it took me three hours to draft, I knew that I had a fit—a photo book about the personal life of the artist Bill Callahan.
A few months later in summer, I drove a day to meet him—to see if it would work out. I still remember feeling intimidated and excited the first time I shot a few Polaroids of him and his guitar on a riverbank. I had this idea to go down to Austin Texas, home to the side-growing oak trees, to photograph Bill every other day for a month. I had the book’s title decided—The Life and Times of William Callahan—before I got on the plane to fly down to Austin to make the project. Something that I might not put too much thought into until after the dust had settled. I felt like I just followed my instincts, and came up with something good.