We profile a lot of musicians for our 5 Questions articles, but it takes so much more than just bands to make a music scene, and we’d be remiss if we didn’t profile one of the many individuals working to make Lowell the artistic hub that it is without even picking up an instrument. One such character is Coleman Rogers, a 30-year veteran photographer who makes his home in Lowell, and the man behind some of the best local music photography in Massachusetts. The kind of local music photography that has been nominated for multiple Boston Music Awards, and has been regularly featured here on the Lowell Spin. We recently caught up with him to ask…5 QUESTIONS FOR COLEMAN ROGERS.
1. What’s the last GREAT album you’ve recently listened to?
XTC’s Black Sea. Great melodies, great lyrics, excellent 1980’s production. Some of the sounds are dated, but overall it holds up well. The political ideals of the songs are still relevant today, and my favourite lyrics of all time are in ‘No Language in Our Lungs:’
For a second that thought became a sword in my hand
I could slay any problem that would stand in my way
A close second would be Rage Against the Machine’s The Battle of Los Angeles. For an album that is pushing twenty years old, the energy and the ideas are still fresh.
2. What band or artist would you most like to capture on film?
Capture on film! I love shooting shows on film, the images look so good. Unfortunately, between the expense of the film and chemicals, and the poor lighting in most clubs, I only shoot film at shows a few times a year.
So many great bands! Parliament is at the top of my list. A band with crazy stage presence and an audience that is engaged and on top of the stage really makes for great photos. Scissorfight is an example of a band that is really fun to capture. I have spent a few shows in the mosh pit right in front of the stage during their set, and while it is a challenge for me physically, I have gotten some great shots of them interacting with the crowd from inside.
3. What passions and hobbies do you follow outside of music?
Since getting run over by a school bus 4 years ago, my life centers around physical therapy and working out at the gym; my own wellness has become my hobby, my job. I spend an hour or two every day working on my strength and flexibility. If you see me sitting in the corner of a show in between sets, I am recovering from the previous set.
4. What’s the one thing about the music scene as a whole you’d like to change?
The number of phones held up during a show, taking photos and videos, is a real problem. The obstruction of everyone’s view, the glowing backside screens, the obnoxious flashes, and the lack of attention paid to the live performance really take away from what should be a sacred interaction between audience and performer. I’m not sure how to solve this problem. Admittedly, I am one of those people taking photos and blocking people’s view, but I do not use a flash, and I try to move around so that I don’t continuously block anyone’s view and so that I get a variety of shot angles.
5. If you could paint a mural of anything on any building, what would it be and what building would it be on? This question comes from the previous 5 Questions interviewee Carissa Johnson found: Here
The 119 Gallery in Lowell used to do an annual collaborative mural on the outside of their building. I would love to see something similar in the downtown area, a large collaborative work that would change every year or two. It would be a great celebration of the art scene in Lowell. The Gates Block is located across from the Haffner’s on Market St. just as you get to DTL, and the side of the building currently has a huge boring banner on the side, featuring a photo taken of a group of artists (including me) and performers around Lowell. The banner is old and should be replaced with this new mural as a welcome sign to people as they enter DTL, with spotlights to show it off at night. Let’s do a GoFundMe!!
– Lee Martin
Coleman Rogers’ event photography, as well as his fine art photographs can be found at his personal website: