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Archive for the ‘Thoughts’ Category

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, To All

Dec 24

In Thoughts at 9:31am

Have always enjoyed this picture. Made it years ago, during the Persian Gulf War. This kid’s mom was deployed, and she befriended a neighbor’s draft horse. A sweet picture for this weekend. A better shot, even sweeter, is over at my bud RC Concepcion’s blog. It’s one of the most beautiful pics of a kid with Santa, ever. Definitely go here.

Enjoy the weekend everybody, and many, many heartfelt thanks to all who occasionally stop by the blog… for 2012! More, as they say, tk…..

Louie Called Yesterday….

May 3

In Thoughts at 7:30am

First thing he said was, “It’s a good day, pal.”

Louie is an extraordinary guy, and an average one at the same time. Average in that he immigrated here from Italy as a youngster, and made a life, as many have done. Extraordinary in his decency, humanity and good will. On 911 all those years ago, he took extraordinary to another level.

Trapped in a smoky stairwell, he slipped and slid down railings, past hundreds of terrified people, to reach a door leading to the lobby of the still standing tower. It was jammed. The lobby was filled with debris from the already collapsed tower. He called for some big guys to help him wedge the door open, and told people to follow his light. There’s no way to tell how many people he saved that day.

Racing against what everyone knew was about to happen, they headed towards West. St. The tower came down. Louie was engulfed in suffocating ash. He had no oxygen tank. As many firefighters did that day, he’d ditched his to get lighter. In the blinding soot and smoke, he stumbled and his hands found, as he put it, “a miracle thing.” Another oxygen tank, abandoned by a firefighter. He clapped it to his face. He estimates he had a couple minutes left.

The news wires are buzzing, of course. Reactions range from flag waiving happiness, to cautionary reminders about the future and the complex world we live in. A murdering, soulless bastard is gone, but time and history have proved there may be more in the wings. Certainly, for the armed forces, who routinely stare down the most harrowing situations, there’s a sense of a job done, and done well.

I guess I’m thinking about all this, a lot, partly because of the news, and partly because I’ve reconnected lately with many folks I photographed right after 911. There’s a wonderful sense of the positive with all concerned. There’s the healing of time, and the staying power of life ongoing, of watching kids grow, of having another dinner at the firehouse, another run, another day. I was with Danny Foley this past weekend, who continues to fight fires from the Rescue 3 company in the Bronx. His brother Tommy was also with Rescue 3 and was lost on 911. Every day on the job, he straps Tommy’s mass card to his helmet, and walks into another burning building.

Just doing some thinking this morning. Happy’s not the right word. Nor is elated, to be sure. Satisfaction? Hmmm…don’t think so. The new buildings down there are going up, but all those people are still gone. No undoing it.

Guess I’ll go with Louie. He said it, simple and direct. It was a good day. More tk….

Pause for Thought…

Apr 14

In Thanks, Thoughts at 10:33am

We are goofing our way across the country, in our last week of life on a bus. It’s been a fun ride, mostly because of the people we have met, the passion we have encountered, and the incredibly warm welcome we have received from Seattle to NY to Grand Rapids to Atlanta to Albuquerque. We have taught, laughed, screwed up, thrown flashes in the air, logged over 11,000 miles (so far), and just in general, made light (ouch!) of everything. Just a bunch of bucketheads on a bus. Then, in the midst of a laugh, you get a note that’s like a quick snort of smelling salts. It clears the head, and removes the fog that sometimes descends after a bumpy night’s sleep in a rolling, two foot wide bed. It snaps you back to the wonderful reality of just how being involved in picture making on any level gets into the very marrow of your bones. If life is a patchwork quilt, photography can be the stitching.

From one of our attendees……

True Story about the day…

4 weeks ago the light of my life, business partner, and ongoing source of… umm… determination; was diagnosed with terminal, incurable, ultra rare, neuro-endocrine cancer. 2 weeks ago when we were meeting with the oncologist to discuss treatment, Eric informed his doctor that he refused to start any kind of treatment until after April 12th because he didn’t want to be ill for the date. I have been a follower of Strobist since I stumbled accross it a couple months after Strobist began. Eric has worshiped Joe McNally for years and we now own all his books. Off camera Nikon strobes is what brought us together. Between the 2 of us; the event of Joe and David finally coming to the Midwest to speak was a nearly religious experience.

So to Joe, thank you. I was the one with the snarky comment that you gave the disks to, it made me happy and it overjoyed Eric. We had already decided that we couldn’t afford the DVD’s. That was a gift with a double whammy that will make the trip to Indy so special for us for the time we have left together. I really can’t thank you enough or tell you how happy we were to be there. Neither of us are the kind to gush over celebrities and I NEVER write to them; but, thank you, thank you, thank you.

To David….. OMG I got to stand near DAVID HOBBY, the man made of light! And shake is hand! Seriously, it was funny sitting there listening to you and to have Eric lean over to me and say, “I understand why you think he’s so cool, he’s been hugely influential on every aspect of your photographic philosophy”.

Thank you all so much for a great day of laughter and light!

You get a note like that, and it is humbling, overwhelming, and motivating all at the same time. It makes you want to shoot better, teach better, and just be better. It makes you want to call your wife or husband. It makes you want to take more pictures of your kids. It reassures you that this lark we’re on has a good reverb.  It reaffirms that as a shooter, it’s about being in the trenches, keeping your eye in the camera, pushing through the mistakes and the misgivings and the slumps. It’s about sharing knowledge, and pushing each other. Giving back is so much more important than pixels.

Kat and Eric…sending light your way…..more tk….

Merry Christmas Everybody….And Best Wishes to All

Dec 23

In Thanks, Thoughts at 5:00pm

And all best for 2011! Blog will be back next week….

More, as they say, tk….

I Second That!

Sep 5

In Friends, Links, Thoughts at 7:58am

A couple of indispensable blogs were posted this week. First, John Loengard’s guest blog on Scott Kelby’s Photoshop Insider.

picture-3This I would suggest as a must read for photographers and picture editors alike. Tremendous economic pressures over time have fractured and adversely affected the historic and important relationship good picture editors have with the photographers they employ. This post, and John’s well reasoned and direct advocacy for the role of the photog in the world of publications, is very well taken.

The other is up on Strobist.


Greg Heisler burst onto the magazine scene around 1980 or so, and single handedly changed magazine photography. I am not overstating the case. His singular sense of light and color impacted so thoroughly that just about every picture editor out there was lining their magazine up for pictures that looked like Greg’s. He had lots of imitators (myself included) who devoured his stuff, looking at catch lights to see where he put what kind of flashes, and wondering what gel pack had produced the vibrant color palette that attended his pix. I could stand at magazine rack and look at a display of a couple hundred mags, and pick out a Heisler cover.

I have worked with Rudy, and can thoroughly corroborate what Greg breezily refers to as the “moment of truth,” on this shoot. This cover was done of Rudy at his personal zenith, and when a public figure is at such a point, their handlers are like a very effective offensive line in football, blocking all charges. The behind the scenes negotiating just to get Rudy to top of the Rock must have been intense. Then, of course, once he gets there, is gonna go up on the edge of the roof? Rudy’s actually pretty cool about that stuff once you get him to the location. Pretty down to earth, or edge of the building type of guy.

The planning of the light is very cool to listen in on. So is the lesson that could be easily glossed over. Research. A week of going to the location at the exact time of day to determine the look and feel of the light. This was an intense collaboration between an extremely talented photog, a picture editor who did and said all the right things to get the subject on board, and a magazine willing to go the extra mile to get something done right. This was the correct mix of craft, obsession, funding and preparation.

This photo is memorable, and memorable isn’t easy. You generally don’t get memorable from a $50 stock pickup.  Rudy was an icon at that moment in time, and thus demanded an appropriately iconic photographer. That combination is the reason we are still looking at this picture.

More tk….