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Friday, July 6, 2012

Pink Floyd Piper at the Gates of Dawn Interview with Photographer Vic Singh

Pink Floyd Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Pink Floyd Piper at the Gates of Dawn
Recently, the Syd Barrett Blog sat down with Vic Singh, the Pink Floyd Piper at the Gates of Dawn cover Photographer, and asked him some questions. In addition to providing a great interview, I never knew George Harrison gave him the prism lens, but he has made a SPECIAL OFFER just for Sydiots! See the SPECIAL OFFER at the bottom. Anyway, onward...

Please tell us how you got into Photography.

Pink Floyd Piper At the Gates of Dawn
Pink Floyd Piper At the Gates of D
My grandfather Franz Lowy was a Viennese society photographer, with studios in Vienna and The South of France. My mother Elizabeth Lowy was his assistant. My father was a talented amateur reportage photographer, always taking pictures of people. He made a dark room in the family palace; there was no electricity so a generator was installed. He developed black & white films and did the printing himself, I can remember learning this process from him at a very early age. He also taught me how to take photographs on his Rolleiflex.
Pink Floyd Piper At the Gates of Dawn
Pink Floyd Piper At the Gates of Da
(My father was the son of a Raja from India, visited Europe often and met my mother at a wine festival in Austria. At the start of the Second World War he asked my mother to come to India and they got married. He and Indian family being landowners never did any work but mixed with the Indian society and were politically motivated, he was jailed by the British with Pundit Nehru over Indian independence issue. Pundit Nehru eventually became prime minister of India.)

I was sent to boarding school in England and my mother moved to live in London. She became a partner in a photo studio. I studied at St. Martins College of Art in London as a teenager and then got a job as assistant in a photographic studio and worked my way up to a photographer finally opening a studio in London's West End.

What was it like in London during the Summer of '67?

Pink Floyd Piper At the Gates of Dawn
Pink Floyd Piper At the Gates of Daw
Surreal to say the least, it was an amazing time, being a member of London's "In Crowd" there was never a dull moment. We were all doing our thing and creativity was breaking down barriers. The arts. photography, fashion and music all merged into one and created a fusion of success and prosperity.

In the mid 60's there were a few photographers and plenty of work so we could afford a good lifestyle. The photography and music professions became very popular over the years, today these professions are overcrowded so it's much harder to support a good lifestyle.

Did you go to UFO? If so, what can you tell us?

In 1965 - 66 I used to go to Glastonbury which was well known before the Glastonbury Music Festival happened. Glastonbury is a truly magical and mysterious place; I was privileged to have an encounter with a UFO and aliens, an unforgettable experience which resonates in my being to this day! That experience has influenced some of my work which can be seen on my website.

Explain in detail how you got the EMI job.

I was enjoying success as a fashion photographer; sometimes I'd shoot a record cover or film for record companies and was known in the business on a social level. I first met the Floyd at an event in London; they were a new and comparatively unknown. They asked me to photograph them for the record cover for The Piper which they had just finished recording. I agreed and asked them to get in touch. EMI had not signed them up yet, they had a manager, so it was more word of mouth.

Explain how the Pink Floyd Shoot was put together. Who contacted you? What did they tell you?

Pink Floyd Piper At the Gates of Dawn
Pink Floyd Piper At the Gates of Da
Their manager rang and booked me for a one day shoot. I asked him if the band had any ideas for the cover and was told that it was left up to me to decide. Listening to the Piper for the first time I was surprised by the revolutionary sounds, I knew immediately that something special was needed, after a time of tossing ideas around in my head and knowing there was no point in shooting a straight photo I got a flash of inspiration! George Harrison had given me a prism lens I decided to use it for the Piper from then on a concept began to germinate. I played around fitting the prism lens over the Hasselblad camera lens and rotating the prism which created kaleidoscopic effects. The beauty of it was that I could shoot straight color film without any further manipulations. The prism lens softened the image on the edges of the figures so I asked the band to bring bold Psychedelic clothes of the time as they would give the images a stronger contrast.

Were you familiar with the band prior to the Shoot? Were you familiar with the Underground prior to this Shoot?

No. I mixed with a wide range of acquaintances at that time, from the rich and famous to the unknowns, too numerous to name.

What the vibe like? How did the band act? How did Syd Barrett act? Please elaborate.

Pink Floyd Piper At the Gates of Dawn
Pink Floyd Piper At the Gates of Daw
The band arrived in the morning on the day of the shoot with a selection of 60's outfits. We all sat around in the studio chatting having various refreshments with the sounds going. Syd asked me if I was happy with the selection of outfits, which I was. He was pottering around the studio inquisitive and was intrigued as to what imagery the session would produce?  The vibe was quite laid back; we started by selecting an outfit for each member, which took some time. We then had a lunch break with sandwiches and refreshments the atmosphere was light and happy as usual in my studio everyone was relaxed and expectant.

Please explain your process during this shoot; what equipment, how many rolls of film, etc...

It took a while to sort out the grouping who should be positioned next to whom and how the outfits would look next to each other, Syd more or less took control of this process and contributed a lot, by now he was much immersed in the session, the prism lens fascinated him as did the visual concept.

Finally positions sorted, the boys were arranged on a white background. Using strobe lighting I began taking pictures with color Polaroid film to see how the kaleidoscopic effect worked while rotating the prism lens. Syd and the band took a look at the Polaroid’s and were and excited.  I moved onto using the Hassleblad loaded with Kodak Ektachrome daylight 120 color film and shot about 6 reels getting a good selection of images.

(Later on Syd designed the back of the Piper cover sleeve.)

Did the band talk about any future plans with you or in your presence?

No. They wanted to finish the Piper and see what results they would get.

Were you able to notice anything about Syd Barrett that you can look back upon as a "sign" of what was to come for him mentally?

No, Syd was a nice happy creative person outgoing and friendly, he was not only a musician but also a gifted artist.

What is your most enduring memory from this Shoot?

It was a beautiful happy creative day. The loud Piper music drifted out of the open studio windows and could be heard in Bond Street. When it was over everyone drifted off home happy.

Why do you think Piper at the Gates of Dawn endures in popularity after 45 years?

The Pink Floyd fans consider it the original essence of the band. After the Piper and Syd departing the Floyd took different directions. The Piper has remained the worldwide icon of the band.

Here is the SPECIAL OFFER for Syd Barrett fans:

If you present this OFFER CODE: SYDPIPER67, Mr. Singh will give you a giant (A2) size Giclee print from this page for the price of a small (A3) size Giclee print:

So that's a, 250 English Pounds, Large Giclee Print for a 150 Pounds, Basically, you get the large sized Giclee print for the price of the small size.

You can pick from any of the prints on that page.

But it gets better! In addition, Vic Singh will give you a FREE A3 sized Giclee print of the image below.  This is a never-before-published "antiqued" print from the Piper... Shoot. As with the other print this is a Giclee that comes with a Letter of Authentication and is hand signed by Vic Singh.
Pink Floyd Piper At the Gates of Dawn
Pink Floyd Piper At the Gates of Dawn
So you get a large Giclee print for the price of a small Giclee print AND you get a FREE small Giclee print of a, previously unpublished, photo all for 150 English Pounds.

How you take advantage of this is that you go here:

You make your pick of what image you want and then pay for it but make sure to pay the small print price (150 Pounds).

Mr. Singh uses PayPal as his ecommerce merchant account and that's a good thing. PayPal will automatically do the conversion from English Pounds to your native currency. After the transaction is approved you will be given a Transaction Code copy that somewhere.

Don't worry about not having a PayPal Account. You can sign in as a Guest and charge a card. Or you can take a few minutes and sign up for a PayPal account.

After you complete your PayPal transaction you then email Mr. Singh at:

Put the OFFER CODE: SYDPIPER67 in the Subject line; nothing else. Then give Mr. Singh your address (billing address of the credit card) and your Transaction Code from PayPal. This will allow Mr. Singh to find your PayPal transaction order and credit you with the offer.

Additionally, Mr. Singh will provide FREE SHIPPING to your home!


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Blogger Kiloh Smith said...

Great Pink Floyd Piper at the Gates of Dawn Interview with Vic Singh!

July 6, 2012 at 7:12 AM  
Anonymous Simon George said...

Pink Floyd truly is one of the best bands that was ever together. I think sometimes people get to caught up in considering them a drug oriented band and forget how awesome the music is. Great post keep up the hard work. Check these out IStillGotMyGuitar

July 16, 2012 at 4:39 PM  
Blogger Victor Reyes said...

Love Vic and his art. Getting my hands on those prints
is priority #1.Thank-you Kiloh for getting the interview
and arranging the special
offer for Sydiots everywhere!

August 4, 2012 at 2:28 AM  

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