Godlis made evocative Brassai/Weegee inspired vignettes of the 1970s New York Punk & New Wave scene, shot inside CBGB and outside under streetlights, always without flash. His subjects include the Ramones, Patti Smith, Television, Blondie, Talking Heads & many others.
Godlis tells it best. Here’s his story. “I came to New York in 1976 looking for work in photography. I’d finished photo school in Boston, and answered phone calls in the complaint department of Fotomat. In New York I landed a job for a guy who did catalogue work by day, and prostitutes’ portfolios by night. I spent most of my day photographing bank gifts and educational toys. I worked on the Valium and Crazy Glue accounts. I was in desperate need of entertainment. One winter night I stumbled into CBGB to see Television. I knew nothing about the band or the place. It wasn’t very crowded – in those days you could fit everyone who went to the place in one or two subway cars. But it didn’t take a genius to figure out that this was the most interesting thing happening in New York City in 1976. The right people were attracted like flies, the wrong people didn’t want anything to do with the dump.”
“The next trick was how to photograph the place. I made it my business not to use a flash. I pushed the film like crazy so I could shoot under streetlights on the Bowery while everyone was hanging out between sets. In between beers and conversation, I used a Leica 35mm camera with long, handheld exposures. I wanted to set down on grainy film what occured in this particular place at this particular time. I was influenced by everyone from Diane Arbus to Weegee, from Brassai to Walker Evans. I went back to CBGB every night for the next three years. When I graduated, I was a ‘rock photographer’.”
Godlis’ exquisite signed handmade silver gelatin photographs are available to purchase in a range of sizes, starting with a small but perfectly formed 8 x 10 inch (20 x 25cm) paper size.