100 Years And Still As Stupid


By Derek Clark

The war to end all wars. Obviously, that was just a suggestion and not something to be taken too seriously, because it’s fair to say there have been a few wars since the first world war ended exactly a century ago on November 11th, 1918. I looked at the Google Machine to see how many wars there have been in the last hundred years, but it’s nearly impossible to get an accurate number. The number of deaths due to war in the 20th and 21st century is also hard to work out, but between 118 and 187 million, give or take.

It’s hard to figure us humans out as a species. We watch movies (for fun) that are mostly about killing each other. Lone gunmen shooting crowds of people are becoming the norm and each time it happens there’s an outrage (for a very short time at least), but we don’t bat an eye when thousands die every day on the other side of the world.

I went to the Remembrance Day parade in Glasgow on Sunday. It was busier than previous years obviously, due to the 100 anniversary of the end of WW1. It’s an emotional experience and an important event. I have so much respect for the men and women in the forces, but not so much for the powers that be, who send them to foreign soil based often on reasons far removed from those of World War II, but more to do with power or money.

We commemorate. But we don’t seem to learn.

Time Gone By

Bobby Wellins | Saxophonist | 1936 - 2016

Photography & Text By Derek Clark

The jazz world lost another great musician last week. Tenor saxophonist Bobby Wellins passed away at the age of 80. I had the chance to photograph Bobby on the 23rd of May 2013 during the recording of the Culloden Moor Suite CD with The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra. These are the pictures I shot that day for the inside of the gatefold CD. We talked saxophones while he waited for the next take. Bobby found it interesting that I play sax and photograph musicians. It was a privilege to speak to him and an honour to stand a few feat away while he recorded the sax parts.

There's been a couple of times during the three years of shooting this jazz project (I don't even think I can call it a project anymore. It's just what I do) that I have questioned my motivation. Am I done? Have I got to the point where I'm shooting pictures I've already shot? Is this important in Scotland? After all this isn't New York or Paris during the jazz heyday. But I stick with it because I always come back with at least a few pictures that I'm proud of and that I would happily hang on a wall. I get to meet and photograph jazz legends from the UK and abroad, people that have been part of my Record/CD collection for years. But above all else, I get to shoot pictures for a few hours while listening to some of the most beautiful music I've had the pleasure of hearing. There hasn't been a gig went past that I haven't just stopped taking pictures and closed my eyes to hear the music. I mean REALLY hear the music.

It's so easy to get lost in the technical side of things while we're photographing whatever is in front of our lens, the aperture, the shutter speed...etc. But we need to set it and let it be sometimes. We need to take in the moment and witness it not just as photographers, but as human beings. Time is linear. It's here, it's gone and it will never be repeated. This could be the last day for any one of us, young or old. Live it like it was!

Tommy (Smith) put together a montage of my pictures from that day and set it to one of Bobby's tunes (below). I watched it in my car and realised, beyond all doubt, that the pictures I capture of this great music we call Jazz, are important!