California Deathrock – Subculture Portraits by Forrest Black and Amelia G is a gorgeous hardcover coffee table book that includes 172 pages of deathrock gothic punk portraits with intense personality and viscerally saturated colors. Assembling this documentary of the California deathrock scene is the work of award-winning graphic designer and photographer Forrest Black and award-winning writer Amelia G. The book which debuted in late 2014 recently reached #26 in the Lifestyle Photography category on Amazon.
From the introduction to California Deathrock – Subculture Portraits by Forrest Black and Amelia G:
“Since the mid-1990’s, Forrest and I have been setting up full blown location studios in all sorts of unlikely and underground places. We’ve set up lights and backdrops in wind-blown theater parking lots in the middle of the night, while bands played their shows, in co-ed strip clubs, and crammed behind the pool table in the back of noisy dive bars. Sometimes it’s a real challenge, but this is how we shoot our personal work. We like to capture the moments in their real environments. For this compendium, we chose only images which were actually shot in California. Some of the deathrockers in this volume grew up here and some are transplants and some were just passing through. Forrest and I had a lot of debates, while hunched over a contact sheet with loupes in hand, over whether a particular photo was really more deathrock or more Gothic, as we needed a methodology for honing down what to share. When we started shooting, there were very few photographers who would ever shoot anyone gothic or punk or tattooed or pierced or fetish and the few who did approached the subject matter in a gritty unattractive purely anthropological manner, like they were going to the zoo. We wanted to create respectful and celebratory work. We wanted to capture the joy and tribal sense of community which we experienced in the various subterranean worlds we documented. We wanted the flamboyant beauty we saw to resonate with other people the way it did for us. We wanted the people we photographed to look the way they looked in our minds’ eyes when we recalled the excitement of nightlife at midnight.”
For nearly a quarter of a century, Amelia G and Forrest Black have been documenting subculture in America. Their work has been published by everyone from Rolling Stone to Playboy and, of course, the seminal publication they are best known for, Blue Blood. Their remarkable portraits benefit from a combination of social anthropology and celebration of community, simultaneously presenting documentary and aspirational artistic ideal. The hallmarks of their distinctive photographic style are viscerally saturated colors and an extraordinary talent for finding intense star quality in their often unusual subjects. Amelia G did her undergraduate work at Wesleyan University and graduate at University of Michigan. Her thesis was a cross-cultural deconstruction of vampires in popular culture. Forrest Black is an award-winning designer whose work has been covered by venues from Print to MTV. He likes black cats and beer. Home base is Los Angeles.
“The refreshingly fascinating photography of Amelia G and Forrest Black successfully captures the alluring mystique of the members of our society’s underground sub-cultures, and presents these often-misunderstood individuals in a sexy, provocative, and yet approachable way.” –Linda “FC” Fletch, Editor, Tattoo Savage magazine
“I like their style of cross processing, and I like the fact that they go out into clubland and photograph the wildlife.” –Matt Riser, publisher, New Grave magazine
“If West Coast deathrock had official scene photographers, they would be Amelia G and Forrest Black.” –Kate Deathrock, Deathrock.org