Ray McKinley's Delayed Reaction

When, during World War II, Glenn Miller, who had been leading the overseas U.S. Army Air Force band, was lost over the English Channel, his position was taken over partly by Ray McKinley, the band’s drummer and sometimes vocalist. Before the war, Glenn had a phenomenally popular orchestra; so, when hostilities ended, some Millerites, using mostly old Miller arrangements, formed a new "Glenn Miller Orchestra". I, myself, was released from the Army in time to cover the Miller Orchestra when it opened under Ray’s leadership (at the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City). In addition to my note pad (for interviewing McKinley), I had my cumbersome but trusty Speed Graphic camera. My goal, when taking pictures of musicians, was to capture--or at least try to capture--the subject’s personality. But it was my first encounter with Ray, and I found him cold and uncommunicative. I couldn’t figure out any of his special qualities, let alone capture them visually.

However, he was working his drums in front of a totally black backdrop. Because of it, I knew that, if I could keep the camera steady, by perhaps wedging it on a table, I could make a double exposure on one negative. Abandoning my hopes of capturing his personality, I decided on a gimmick: making a double exposure, with Ray in two different positions, to suggest motion.