THIS 1985 LOS ANGELES SESSION WITH THE LEGENDARY RAY Charles had a permanent impact on rock photographer Norman Seeff’s methods. “Within a couple minutes of beginning the session, we were involved in a deeply revealing conversation about his inner creative process,” Seeff recalls. “All the while, Ray was playing and demonstrating the power of emotional expression on the piano I had rented for the session. We got classic Ray shots with his spontaneous laughter and his boundless exuberance, and then there were moments where I could see his inner creative reflection.” One photo from the session was used 19 years later for the cover of Charles’ posthumously released final album, Genius Loves Company. “He was incredibly gracious,” Seeff remembers. “It was clear to me that the gift of expressing himself as an artist was for him an act of giving love. ‘All creation begins in the mind, but then you’ve got to do it,’ he told me.” Seeff came away with a new focus: “It pushed me more deeply into the exploration of the inner dynamics of creativity. This session was a beautiful environment in which to do that.”

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