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Memories of a Cover Story

Oct 3

In Memories, News at 6:59am

Trademark cigarette drooping from his lip, Tom Clancy stands in the calm swirl of the Chesapeake Bay, a body of water which occasionally had a mention in his novels, in 1988. He was in the throes of the amazing success of The Hunt for Red October, followed on by Red Storm Rising, and many others. He had 17 of his novels hit No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list.

We spent some time together, and he was an amiable subject. Given his relationship with the Navy, we got ported out to the Aegis cruiser Yorktown, on maneuvers in the Atlantic, which was the setting for the cover below.

No lighting here, small or large. When a fast ship like this is moving, it’s not the time for a light shaper of really any description. We were on deadline, closing the cover, so this was 35mm Ektachrome, gray day, quick hit, done deal.

On the bridge, I pulled out some flash and gels, because, as Clancy said to me, “This is what Luke Skywalker wishes he had.”

I don’t know about that, ’cause the force still does seem kind of a cool thing to me, but Mr. Clancy was a devoted technophile, and one of his trademarks was the density of detail he brought to his accounts of hi-tech warfare. Shots like the above happen in a heartbeat. They scrub the screens, give you a non-classified angle to shoot from, and you are literally lighting, moving and shooting on gut feel, instead of considered decisions. No LCD digital confirm, and barely time for a 35mil Polaroid proof from a Marty Forscher back. A cover day like this, with a celebrity, on board a Navy vessel, no less, ┬áis exhausting.

As always, the gift of a camera in my hands opened up the door to a fascinating couple of days with an author who captured the public imagination in a huge way. He will live on, of course, as authors do, via his words. His next book is out on Dec. 3.

More tk….






art meripol says:

on October 3, 2013 at 7:12 am

I can only imagine how exhausting a shoot that indeed would have been. Stressful, exhausting and … fun. Personally I think the no light cover shot has a great ‘at-sea’ mood…thank you Ektachrome and a grey day.

Marc Austin-Zande says:

on October 3, 2013 at 7:16 am

As always Joe, thank you for sharing. I have had the privilege of shooting some amazing subjects but I wish the camera in my hands opened such doors.

Joseph Nienstedt says:

on October 3, 2013 at 7:21 am

I love your tributes – You always remind me of the number 1 reason I love photography, which is the connection with people.

Garethgr says:

on October 3, 2013 at 7:24 am

Amazing story to honor and amazing man.
Thanks Joe for these awesome images.

Fadi Kelada says:

on October 3, 2013 at 7:25 am

Sad to hear about the loss of such a great author. Thank you, Joe for sharing these images.

Jere says:

on October 3, 2013 at 7:31 am

Great memories, one of my favorite authors he will be missed. But his books will live on and cant wait to read the latest novel when it is available.

Darren Elias says:

on October 3, 2013 at 7:33 am

I never knew you shot that pic of Mr. Clancy on deck in his yellow jacket. I always loved that shot. It just painted a picture of a man who’s work I admired and enjoyed, in his element, or at least the element his writings would have you believe was his.

What’s funny to me is that I have autographed books by you, and books autographed by Mr. Clancy. My world is smaller or at least more interconnected than I thought!

Thanks for sharing the pics, Joe.


Nat says:

on October 3, 2013 at 7:39 am

I love the tales of your interesting journey :)

Ken says:

on October 3, 2013 at 8:05 am

I have loved Clancy’s books and am saddened at his early departure. RIP Tom….

Joe – thanks once again for such an insightful and personal glimpse into a person that many of us feel we already know. Your words are thoughtful and appreciated…..

Sander Baks says:

on October 3, 2013 at 8:09 am

Epic memories. I love his books..

Don Koehler says:

on October 3, 2013 at 9:13 am

Great memories and great photos Joe. I’m a longtime fan of Mr. Clancy and it’s sad to see his light extinguished. However, re-reading is the great thing about books. I’m also a furloughed Navy worker. Many if our folks are also Clancy fans.

Brook says:

on October 3, 2013 at 1:08 pm

You do the best tributes. Direct, personal, and honest.

Chris Monitz says:

on October 3, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Unfortunatelly, there’s nothing more tk…may his soul rest in peace.

RodneyB says:

on October 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm

Hunt for Red October is in my personal top three favorites, make that top two. And the guy standing next to Clancy looks a lot like the actor who did that same job on the Red October.

Randy McKown says:

on October 3, 2013 at 8:40 pm

Tom will be missed.

Rand says:

on October 4, 2013 at 11:10 pm

I am always impressed by your photo work Joe but I have come to realize that your thoughtfulness and written words are a really significant part of that feeling. Thanks for being you and sharing it with all of us who are smart enough to follow…

Tom McKean says:

on October 5, 2013 at 6:16 am

Wonderfull story. Back in the amazing days of film. Just shot and it was a done deal.

Ivan Boden says:

on October 11, 2013 at 11:07 pm

Terrific story!

Woa, Marty Forsher. Hadn’t heard his name a long while. I remember Forsher’s repair shop in NY. He was so well known as the premier place to go for camera repairs. Plus his innovative invention of the polaroid back attached to a 35mm you mentioned.

Clancy… Forsher… remembered.

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