The Flashing Muse: Pinball Wizardry


On a recent flight to South Florida I committed a cardinal sin of creative inspiration: I made a plan. While planning is essential in many endeavors, you can’t summon the muse of inspiration to attention. “You cannot petition the Lord with prayer!,” Jim Morrison implored. As such, as my plan receded, inspiration flowed.

Photography comes in as many flavors and styles as popular music. Tell someone you’re a musician and the possibilities range from types of instrumentation to musical genres. Say you’re a photographer and the options are as diverse, from commercial to journalistic. And like most musicians I know, I’m not gonna work your kid’s bar mitzvah. My identification as a photographer is far more abstract than that; my themes inspired by a less concrete call.

reflective mannequin 12My fated plan was to refresh my Reflective Mannequin series, which emerged a few years back while browsing through a South Florida shopping mall. “I need to get my camera. The storefront mannequins are asking to be photographed,” I told my wife. Being a visual artist herself, she didn’t look at me askance, or consider a mental health evaluation. Following the muse, my mannequins soon came to life. But the time to revisit the theme was detoured by the persistent allure of vintage pinball machines, inspiring a visit to an area museum featuring a bevy of classic machines.

fantasticMy Pinball Wizardry series began when searching for a fun way to celebrate my mom’s eightieth birthday. My mom is one of the coolest people I know, so a pinball party was perfect. Scoping out the pinball museum, complete with working games going back to the 1940s, I was instantly inspired to capture the bevy of games I played as a teen, with artwork as captivating as the game itself. Using the reflection inherent to glass on the pinball tables, I was able to employ my technique, whereby I use reflections to generate a multidimensional effect in a single layer. What resulted are very vibrant and abstract impressions, designed to bring joy to anyone with an affinity for pinball. I considered my quest complete. Not so fast, I learned.

The one machine I wanted to capture over the rest is the Tommy game, commemorating the pinball theme essential to the tale of the 1969 rock opera composed by Pete Townshend, and performed by the Who. While I’d already captured a few other games in the Tommy theme, the game itself proved illusive. I could never get the right reflection, until this recent revisit, and displayed atop this blog. You’ll a find a few other additions in my Pinball Wizardry gallery, which you’ll find browsing the Galleries tab to your left.

Aside from my images of particular people, all my work is available for reproduction in a variety of sizes, and mountings. If you’d like to place my work on your wall, or as a gift, talk to me. I’m happy to play interior designer and assist with the right image and mounting for your setting.

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