Archive for the ‘history’ Category
You know you’ve been in the business a long time when startling, talented newcomers cause waves and news, and you photograph their sterling debuts. And then you see them retire.
So it is with Paloma Herrerra, who I photographed years ago for a story in LIFE. She was then the “baby ballerina” of ABT, incredibly gifted, and young, and poised for greatness.
Below, a portrait, onstage at the Met.
Along with Paloma, Julie Kent is also retiring in the next month or so. I only had one chance to photograph her, below, with Marcelo Gomes.
Also exiting the stage is the vibrant and wonderful Xiomara Reyes, another principal with American Ballet Theater. Seasons of change in the world of dance in NY. Below, their pending departures are noted by the Washington Post and the New York Times.
It was a privilege to have photographed these amazing, talented dancers. Definitely, if possible, go to the ABT website and try to see them before they go.
When I first arrived in NYC, nurturing faint hopes to become a photographer in the Big Apple, Danny Farrell was the dean of NYC press photography, a class act, and much respected. A shooter’s shooter, nobody was tougher when the job was on the line. He delivered. A resplendent generalist who shot it all, his particular genius was on full display at Yankee Stadium, and at the tracks, Belmont and Aqueduct. Baseball and the horses—nobody beat him. He loved pictures, and life. As good as he was, he was also approachable and decent, always up for a laugh and a beer, or maybe even a good “martooni” as he occasionally called them.
He passed away this week. I will miss that laugh, his distinctive voice, and his wisdom. We will all miss his pictures. The NY Daily News, where he spent his entire 50 year career, did a great thing this week, running a portfolio of his images. Do yourself a favor and hit this link. One photographer, with keen eyes, and an unerring touch for human moments, helped create our collective memory. Below is his most famous frame.
A year or so ago, I went to Danny’s house, and shot the below. My way of saying thanks.
In 1976, I went to NYC straight from photo school at Syracuse University, seeking work as a photog. It was a foolish act, fueled by the lack of knowing and the hubris of youth. New York, a stern taskmistress, sorted me out quite quickly.
The only work I found that was connected to photojournalism was as a copyboy at the New York Daily News, New York’s picture newspaper. They had at the time over 50 staff photographers and a daily run of well over a million copies.
I ran copy from desk to desk, got coffee for nickel tips, and delivered lunches to columnists. My connection to photos was to make subway runs, collecting bags of film from the photogs, especially the sports guys, at the stadiums or Madison Square Garden, and race deadline back to 42nd St. I took home $107 a week, lived in a cockroach laden, tiny, hotbox of an apartment. It was broken into on a couple of occasions, and I lost all my camera gear. I also lost my dad that first year in NY.
No one even thought of me as having potential to actually shoot the pictures. My job was just to run my legs off with bags of pictures somebody else shot. I would go home at night, sit on my bed in the wash of an old, oscillating fan on the floor, and listen to the traffic blaring on Broadway. The stench of garbage, wrapped in the heat of the summer, drifted through the window, leeching into the stained carpet, the sheets, even my sweat. I would sit there in the dark and weep.
It was about that time that Danny Farrell looked at my work. The fact that such a photographic luminary took the time out to look at the portfolio of a desperate copy kid was an act of kindness I have never forgotten. I was broke, running out of hope, and thinking about packing it in. He looked at my pictures. He said, “Kid, you know a picture when you see one. Hang in there.”
When I was sent to Yankee Stadium for a film run, I would race to get there early, and watch him. He shot baseball with a Nikkor 400mm f5,6, with gaffer tape arrows on the barrel, marking the focus points for second base and home plate. Audaciously, he would occasionally give me the camera and lens and let me shoot an inning. I framed up second base once, playing with the focus, and was off his arrow mark. He quickly said to me, “Kid are you sharp there?” I was not, and I told him I was just playing with the focus throw. He relaxed and nodded. “You know, I would double check myself if you thought it was sharp. You got those young eyes.” I know now whereof he spoke. I no longer have young eyes, and good AF is a blessed event, not available to the shooters of that day.
His mantra in bright sun was “A thousand at f11.” I remember one brilliant day, another photog proclaimed loudly in the photog bullpen at the stadium, “So is it two thousand at f8?” Danny said yes, but “I’d rather be a thousand at 11.”
He was laid to rest wearing a tie picturing horses, racing for the finish line, where he would have been waiting. Also, there was a Nikon camera, created of black and silver decorations. At the bottom was a banner–Always at thousand-f11.
At his funeral mass, the fine photojournalist Kathy Kmonicek made a picture of Dan’s great grandson, Braydon, saluting his great grandfather’s coffin as it passed. An amazing, spontaneous echo to mark the passing of a remarkable man.
I will miss him. He meant a lot to all shooters, but in particular the “boys” in the studio, like Johnny Roca and myself. We grew up in his shadow, learning, listening and laughing. We are better for it. A print he signed for me, of one of my favorite pictures, is treasured. Danny Farrell’s signature on a picture about the Knicks winning. Best of a couple worlds, right there.
Up where you are now, Danny, I’m sure it’s a thousand at 11. And, if by chance we meet again, it would be my honor to run your film once more.
Today’s blog is over at Jimmy Colton’s estimable Z PhotoJournal.
It is high praise to refer to someone as a good picture editor. That means that he or she is possessed of certain qualities. Among them, and not in any particular order, would be a deep sympathy for the uncertain craft of being a photographer; an understanding of the near keening need photographers have to engage in their trade, and to tell stories that move people and create understanding; the necessary patience, acumen and diplomacy to be the benevolent bridge between the raging beast of the photographers’s needs, demands (and ego) and the matter-of-fact nature of the publication in question, which is invariably run by at least some folks who couldn’t give a rat’s ass about any need or mandate other than to sell issues and make some damn money.
As a very good editor told me once, photographers think about their story. Editors think about the magazine. The issue, in toto. A picture editor has to think about both. They have to be concerned about the overall look and feel and timeliness of the whole package about to be sent to the newsstand. They have to think of the flow of a story, as it moves from page to page, and the linkages and issues the pictures address. They have to be dispassionate, and judge a picture based on the picture, and not favor the fevered account of a photographer who will occasionally be wildly exclamatory in the description of what he or she did to get said photo. It’s not about the shooter, it’s about the picture, and sometimes bad news has to be delivered. “The take doesn’t work.” Or, “They killed the story.”
They have to deliver this news in supportive fashion, so the photog knows they can rise from the ashes of a tough take and still have the confidence to deliver the goods on the next take.
And a good picture editor has to take the heat and defend the shooter. We are rarely in the room when judgement is handed down, sometimes unfairly. Many a good photo has gone unpublished or disregarded in the world of publishing and it’s up to the picture editor to fight to the last yard, that boundary line where they pull up just short of being fired for their passionate defense of the picture.
Being a good picture editor is a tough, essential job. And Jimmy is one of the best. We started in this business as kids, gadding about Poland, chasing the Pope. I shot probably the toughest assignment I’ve ever shot for him. (I talk a bit about it in the interview. It was a near impossible, expensive picture, and he stuck with me on it, defended the process, and got the image in the magazine. Wheeling and dealing at a major magazine is not for the faint of heart, and many a photog out there knows how good it was to have the certainty that while they were in the field, Jimmy had their back at the magazine.)
I’m so glad he is out there on the internet, writing about the craft and practice of picture making, which is an endeavor he has so much experience with. Z PhotoJournal is a great stopping by point in the cluttered world of photo news. Just like he did at Newsweek, or Sports Illustrated, when he would go through a take, he cuts to the chase, and distills what is important to remember about pictures.
He is a good picture editor, and a dear friend. More tk…..
This past weekend, Joe Torre’s #6 was officially retired at Yankee Stadium. He rightly took his place among the pinstriped legends. I worked with Joe a number of times over the years, and he always proved to be an affable subject. I wrote about the above snap in The Moment It Clicks.
I shot it in the aftermath of Frank Torre’s heart transplant surgery, performed by the famous Dr. Mehmet Oz. Frank and Joe were not only brothers, but also one of those rare tandems of siblings who both made it to the big leagues. I was assigned to shoot the trio, at Yankee stadium, for a story on alternative medicine. At about noon, on a sunny day. As I think I asked in the book, “What do you do with three relatively lumpy guys who are waiting for you to tell them to do something interesting.?” In five minutes or less. In bad light.
The answer, as it often can be, was a big, single blow of light, in this case a 74″ Octa. One light, full power, open up the faces, and beat back the sun. The operative thing that goes through my mind during a session like this is always “KISS!” Keep it simple, stupid. No time for anything fancy.
But, if you leave these guys alone and don’t direct them, all you got is three different head shots, only all in the same picture. So, you gotta have an idea, and venture it, at the risk of hearing no, or even worse, being ridiculed for suggesting something outlandish or stupid. With Joe and Frank, though, I knew I had a couple good guys who had spent enough time in locker rooms to respond to “How about giving Dr. Oz a big, Brooklyn smooch?” Which set the doc to beaming. Three minutes or so, and I left with a picture for LIFE.
Shot Joe and his equally famous golf buddy Rudy Giuliani for the cover of Golf Digest, also at the old Yankee Stadium.
We shot this in the left field warmup area, hence the rumpled seamless. The biggest problem I had was that as soon as the team got wind that the skipper and the mayor were doing a photo shoot, they started pulling home run balls over the left field wall during batting practice, hoping for mischief, or perhaps to see one of my lights explode. One ball was a screamer that might have done some damage, but we were saved by Mo Rivera, who Joe described as the best pure athlete on the team. Rivera made a helluva grab, and the set stayed safe.
Congrats to Joe, who always made my job easy. More tk….
A bright light just went out. Robin Williams could speak faster than most of us can think. And when he spoke (often in tongues) we laughed, long, hard and well.
Only photographed him once. Typical of his irreverent whimsy, he walked onstage to rehearse wearing a “Forty F%&*$#&G Niners” t-shirt, and dared the assembled photogs to take his picture and put that in your “family f%$*(**&^%g newspaper.” Had to bring my timing to get a publishable snap.
We were all lucky to get anything sharp. He kept it lively, doing his routine, and riffing here and there. His pinball wizard brain kept us anywhere from chuckling to outright howling. I know I missed a bunch of pics just standing there, slack jawed at the pace of it, camera in my hands and not to my eye, giggling like an idiot. Old style chrome, EPT pushed one stop. Radio City Music Hall, 1982. Long time ago, and lots of laughter since then.
Thank you….Godspeed…..more tk…..