Happily, I was in Donald’s company last week in Santa Fe, when a storm came up. Wind was rattling through the old penitentiary, speaking in tongues, maybe in the voices of those who died so viciously there. I looked outside, and looked at the sky. Then I went looking for Donald.
Donald and I go back a ways now. I think the reason I’ve been able to knock off the occasional good frame of him is that I like him so damn much. To say he is wise and decent is to understate the case. He is a soulful, a twinkly eyed water witcher of the human spirit. He finds what is good in people.
He recognizes the flip side, too. We had a hoot sitting and talking last week. He arched his brows as he mentioned a couple of posing experiences he had lately, referring to one shooter we had mutual knowledge of as “as bull headed pain in the ass.” Ah, Donald. Not only wise, but to the point. Photogs need to remember they make an impression, and it’s a lasting one.
I’ve seen him weather his own storms. He is a cancer survivor, and a few years back, he kept coming to class, posing for the workshops, without his wonderful swatch of white hair. That danger receded, and his hair grew back, and blessedly, he kept working for the workshops. And when he comes to class, he comes to class. He brings his own clothes rack, and array of boots that would stock your average western apparel store, multiple hats, dusters, overcoats, and ties. He is always early.
And, he knows more about lighting than your average Joe. I’ve seen him coach a workshop participant. “You’re gonna wanna lower that light.” He’s invariably right.
We shot this together in a matter of minutes, again, ’cause we know and trust each other. We jumped up in a pickup bed to get some elevation. I told Mike Sakas, who was working with me to help him up, even though I knew that was fruitless. Donald jumped into the back of the pickup easier than I did, that’s for sure. Help? Not in his vocabulary, unless he’s offering that to others.
Shot it with a D3X, 24-70mm lens, and a Quadra pack and head, jacked into a small strip light soft box. Maxed the Quadra to give me about f22, so I could drag shutter to about an eighth or so. Hoping the wind might whip his hair into a frenzy, which it did. The wind almost whipped poor Michael away, trying desperately to position the light. See below, shot by Garrett Garms.
With my course assistants Michael, Meghan, and Sakas coaching me, I pushed and pulled this a touch in post. (Mongo push slider! Mongo like!) They were great. I felt like a person in a self help workshop, being coached to overcome some debilitating malady or fear. “You can do it Joe! Just use the slider! You can walk! Walk to me Joe!”
Donald don’t really need much pushing and pulling. He is comfortable in his own skin, and that’s the way I’ve always shot him. He loves his honey, and takes her out on the dance floor every week. He told me at one point, “Joe, we really complicated our lives this past year. We learned a new dance step.”
He also said to me once, “Joe, the day they put me down, all the music in the world’s gonna stop.”
Here’s to the music playing for a long time…..more tk….