The cover photo of Band of Horses' 2006 debut, Everything All the Time , was taken at the intersection of Florida and 26th streets, right next to the Balboa Park Golf Course.
"I would walk through that area all the time and I thought that little copse of trees in the middle of all this urban chaos was really beautiful," says Golden Hill photographer Christopher Wilson, who has spent the last year as Band of Horses' personal photographer.
Inside the CD sleeve are more stand-alone photos, like Polaroids. One is of the apex of a telephone pole, a cluster of wires and power boxes. Wilson is obsessed with telephone poles. Another is of a rocking chair in a room with flowers and teddy bears and grandmotherly dÃ©cor. The third shot is of a hand waving at a low-flying plane, also taken at the Balboa Park Golf Course.
"If you live anywhere near downtown San Diego, those airplanes are part of your life," Wilson says. "It blows my mind that you can be relaxing in the park and, all of a sudden, a 747 comes roaring over your head."
Wilson met vocalist-guitarist Ben Bridwell about 10 years ago when they were both working in a cafÃ© in Seattle. When Bridwell's folk band, Carissa's Weird, broke up, he and vocalist-guitarist Matthew Brooke formed Band of Horses, which signed to Sub Pop Records.
Wilson moved to San Diego, working on a series of photos called "It's Lonely Here," which tried to capture the "sad beauty of everyday life." His work was shown as installations at local spots like The Whistle Stop and downtown's L Street Gallery. He eventually amassed them into a book, Christopher Wilson--Photos , and gave a copy to his friends in Band of Horses when they toured through San Diego. The band used the photos for their debut, and the album art has been nominated for a PLUG Independant Music Award.
"I think the photographs have a certain sad, desperate beauty to them which matched the feeling of the record," Wilson says.
On tour, Wilson documents Band of Horses' live shows and everything in between. He and the band are sifting through 6,000 photos to possibly put into book form. He's also shot for The Flaming Lips and local blues musician Diablo Dimes. On Feb. 26, he'll be at The Casbah for the opening date of the all-original lineup of Sebadoh--his first assignment as a photog for online music site Pitchforkmedia.com.
"Trying to make a living by making any kind of artwork is always a hard hustle. I've always had to work a cafÃ© job to make ends meet," he says. "I wouldn't have made it this far without 'Judy the Beauty' Forman, owner of The Big Kitchen restaurant. She's a big supporter of art and artists. People like that can be few and far between in a conservative town like San Diego." www.christopherwilsonphoto.com.