Behind the Lens with C. Andrew Hovan
Favorite venue to shoot:
I don't know if I can narrow it down to one particular place that I like to frequent for my photography. When it was running at full throttle under Skip Norris's direction, Detroit's Jazz Cafe was a great place to shoot. I also love to hang out at Smoke in NYC.
Favorite festival to shoot:
Not that I have been all over the world shooting at various festivals, but the Detroit Jazz Festival on Labor Day weekend has always been a favorite for me. I've been attending the festival every year for over 20 years and have been covering it for about the past ten or twelve years.
Where was your first assignment location?
My earliest work shooting jazz musicians was at the Detroit festival with a point-and shoot camera from behind the gates and fences. A few years later, I was able to score a photo pass and had my F3 and F4 in tow. I have always found it be be a challenge, but also very exciting. Over the years I have been thrilled to find my work appear in many places, including Down Beat, The New York Times,and a multiple page spread for the Japanese magazine English 4U.
Your favorite musician(s) to photograph:
I never tire of shooting drummer Matt Wilson. He always gives so much of himself in every performance and that always translates to the photographic medium. I have a large file of favorite Matt shots.
Did you know...
The summer before my senior year in high school, I traveled out west with my mom and dad in a van. We spent 30 days hitting all the big attractions such as The Grand Canyon and Mount Rushmore. We carried a large and dedicated cooler just for the massive amount of Kodachrome that I took with me. I shot constantly, but over the course of the entire vacation, I only took one picture of my mom and dad. As I said before, I never was much for people pictures. Go figure.
Your favorite jazz story:
My favorite times were spent in the late '80s and early '90s hanging out with Bubba Brooks and Bill Doggett at the Theatrical in Cleveland. Not only did I shoot the band, but I also sat in playing drums on more than one occasion. Bubba often talked of his brother Tina Brooks. He had tons of stories about Blue Note Records and Alfred Lion. He also talked of playing with Don Pullen, one of my all-time favorites, who always called him "Bricks." I think my favorite story was the one about how the Brooks family met Thelonious Monk one afternoon. They lived in Fayetteville, North Carolina and on one particularly hot summer day, there was a knock at the door. When Mrs. Brooks went to see who it was, she saw Monk standing there with a thick wool topcoat on and a knit hat on his head. Monk asked to talk to Tina. With that, Mrs. Brooks went back inside and announced that there was some "crazy man" on the porch asking for Tina. After all, it was nearly 95 degrees outside and here's Monk with a wool topcoat. Bubba took a peek and realized it was Monk, but had to do a bit of work to calm his mother down, since she was convinced he was up to no good.