the zen of tony bennett

Most people know of Tony Bennett as the amazing musician, but he’s also a painter and does watercolors.  I had just come from checking out a watercolor show of a high school friend, Iain Stewart, when I decided to crack open this book and start on it while visiting my family in Alabama.

Right off the bat, some of the things Bennett notes were immediately relevant to creative businesses and photographers as well.  Case in point: “Work doesn’t feel like work if you’re passionate about what you do.” Also “It’s very important to know what to leave out, thereby emphasizing what remains.” – something that obviously all photographers who’ve ever framed a shot understand.

Throughout the book he goes through stories of his life and while many folks might enjoy his anecdotes about his life experiences with celebrities, the best insights I got were from his personal perspectives on the music business and creativity in general.

Interspersed at the beginning of each chapter is some sort of art piece from Bennett.  I right away noticed that they were all signed ‘Benedetto’ and learned that Bob Hope was the one who told Anthony Dominick Benedetto (his full name) not to use his then-current stage name of Joe Bari, but instead to become Tony Bennett.

“You can’t get a good take from technology or transform a bad take into something good,” totally resonated too.  As photographers we know that you have to get certain things in your shot at the time the shutter snaps.  Without that, no amount of photoshopping can fix it completely.  Yes there’s a lot you can do but even with a Lytro, if you didn’t frame it right and missed a critical element, the technology isn’t the fix.

Other quotes that us photographers can probably relate to:

“When the uncreative tell the creative what to do, it stops becoming art.”

“We can always seek beauty and inspiration in the world around us.”

And one of the best anecdotes he tells in the book relates to “I left My Heart in San Francisco.”  When Bennett gets asked if he ever gets tired of singing that song, his usual response is “Do you ever get tired of making love?”