STORY WRITTEN BY TARA LYNN JOHNSON
For 21st Century Media
Five days after his 16th birthday, photographer Will Vogt’s life started heading in a new and creative direction. He and two friends went to the Arena Theater on 69th Street for his first rock concert: The Jimi Hendrix Experience.
“What I saw that night changed my life,” he said.
Hendrix’s music and show was so mind-blowing, he still remembers the night clearly, though it happened more than 46 years ago.
“The loudness and intensity of his music was overwhelming and Jimi’s stage presence was unlike anything ever seen before or after,” he said. “It was a very memorable event.”
Besides the amazing show, Vogt saw people with long hair and pot smoke hanging in the air. “I saw many things Mom and Dad hadn’t told me about,” he said.
And he would see more of the same when he went to concerts featuring Cream, Blind Faith, The Who, and The Band. At the same time, he had started to play with photography and was able to take pictures at some of the shows.
“I always had an eye out for a good rock and roll image that captured the bands and the music that I was lucky to grow up with,” he said.
Vogt saw Hendrix twice before the guitarist died in 1970. Photos of the guitar legend are featured in the “Sixties Photography: ‘Rock and Ring’” exhibit at Montgomery County Community College’s Fine Arts Center Gallery in Whitpain.
After all these years, he still loves taking pictures.
“I think I have some artistic bent. I can’t paint. I can’t draw Gumby,” he said. “This camera has given me an ability to express myself artistically.”
Even though he may take thousands of images to get 50 good ones, it’s worth it.
“Sometimes, it’s like catching lightning in a bottle,” he said. “You take picture after picture and maybe you have a few that you’re really proud of. You caught something that was better than the average snapshot.”
He’s thrilled to be in the exhibit with Ed Wheeler, a professional photographer and his friend of more than 40 years. Wheeler, a pro for more than 35 years, showcases photos of boxing matches in the exhibit. They were taken in 2010 at The Blue Horizon, a Philadelphia boxing club that opened in the early 1900s that’s now a historically-certified building, ranked as one of the top fight venues in the world by two sport magazines. “It’s a great location, and had great atmosphere,” he said.
He photographs more than sports, of course, as a professional. He’s happy no matter what he’s shooting. “It’s given me so much pleasure,” he said. “I get so much joy from the creative process.”
Though Vogt works in the oil and gas industry (in Texas, where he now lives), he enjoys being creative, too. He’s most excited about showing his photos in an area where people can appreciate where they were taken — venues in and around the city, some that aren’t there anymore, like the Spectrum. It’s a bit of rock and roll as well as local history.
“I’m excited to be part of the exhibit,” he said, “and for people from Philadelphia to see the work.”
IN YOU GO
What: “Sixties Photography: Rock and Ring” featuring works from William T. Vogt and Ed Wheeler
When: Nov. 17 through Dec. 19. Hours are 8 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Mon.-Thu.; 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Fri.; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sat. A reception is planned for 1 to 3 p.m. Dec. 7.
Where: Montgomery County Community College, Fine Arts Center Gallery, Central Campus, 340 DeKalb Pike, Whitpain.
Info.: Call 215-619-7349 or visit http://www.mc3.edu