Brian May – “Queen in 3-D” – Classix! Italia – Transcript


By Tony Aramini – Classix Magazine
October-November 2017
Translated by Barbara Mucci

See article in Italian HERE


Let’s start with some technical information. Stereoscopy is a photographic technique, which produces two images of the same subject taken from slightly different angles, simulating the points of view of the two human eyes. These pairs of photographs, viewed through a special viewer (stereoscope), create an impressive three-dimensional effect. Strangely enough, this is a technique older than photography itself that, after decades of attempts, was perfected in the mid-nineteenth century using pairs of drawings.

Brian May has discovered stereoscopy when he was a child thanks to a couple of complimentary cards inside a cereal box. From the back of that pack, he filled a coupon to order, at the price of one shilling and a halfpenny, the appropriate viewer. Little Brian was astonished to receive the keenly awaited parcel: through those lenses, the hippos depicted on those cards took magically life, turning into three-dimensional images. He didn’t know it yet, but he had just found a passion that would have marked his life forever, second only to that electric guitar that would have given him honour and glory with Queen. Caught up in the excitement, he began to experiment with that ingenious technique, with his simple camera, taking pictures from slightly misaligned perspectives: although it was a rudimentary method, it worked. They were the first of many stereographs taken by Brian May who, over the years, would cultivate the passion providing himself with the appropriate equipment, starting from dual-lens cameras. By demonstrating his sense of originality on this front too, May, despite all technological innovation, was not tempted by Polaroid’s immediate gratification but, even during the global success of Queen, he didn’t give up a flair for this particular kind of photography, taking dozens and dozens of images documenting Queen’s life both off stage and on stage (in fact, during their gigs, May often entrusted his stereoscopic camera to some collaborators placed to the side of the stage). Snaps being hidden for years in some drawer of his house. At least to this day….

In fact, this is the premise with which the luxurious “Queen In 3-D”, a huge coffee table book (with attached stereoscope) is born. It will make possible to everyone to admire the best of sixty years of snaps in three dimensions (copied from the original negatives when possible, and sometimes digitally cleaned to ensure the best quality): from the first free card found in a cereal box (“I don’t throw anything away”, May admits in a serious way. Thank goodness!) to the Queen World Tours in the 70s and 80s, until the recent tours with Adam Lambert behind the microphone.

But it’s more than that, because this not only is an aesthetically pleasing book but it is also interesting to read: all the photographic material is in fact accompanied by lines and lines written by Brian May himself, who, without a ghost-writer and with a sober and “confidential” style, indulges in memories, anecdotes and comments. Do not expect an autobiography or a classic biography about Queen. Although he follows a quite methodical timeline, May often jumps from one topic to another or deals summarily a few chapters of his long life story (artistic and personal) in favour of other ones, but here is the best part: he sounds like an old friend talking.

This is obviously an essential appointment for all the staunchest Queen fans. Moreover, ‘Queen In 3-D’ is an interesting publication on many levels so that it can aspire to even reach a larger audience (photo enthusiasts, for example, may appreciate Brian May’s story about the evolution of the techniques used). The price, about fifty euros, is not ridiculous, but correct when compared to the quality of the finished product.