While going through hundreds of thousands of images looking for 47 photographs for my new book- that first need to be found, then scanned, cleaned, and yes a little Photoshop maybe, it’ll all be good- what do I come up with? A short film that I directed a few years ago. I’m looking at half of the control room and half of the set. Oh my God. Total crew; 22 people, two gaffing trucks, executive producer, line producer, two editors, craft services, gaffers… that’s enough, you know where I’m going. See the last photo, talk about streamlining your crew. It’s all for fun, it’s all good. It’s Monday; go make a photograph, or a short film. Gone with the??? Joe D.
To all the ships at sea, working photographers make photographs for many reasons. One of the number one reasons is money, and it’s not a great motivator. Once every four, five, or six years, you have an opportunity to meet not only a great and powerful person, but a genuinely beautiful human being and you’re asked to do an environmental portrait. In this particular case, that person was Vito Russo. In my opinion, he was possibly the most powerful person on the planet, when it came to being an advocate not only for gay rights, but for pushing the envelope to seek a cure for the dreaded HIV/AIDS. I would love to tell you that we were extremely close friends, but that would be a gross exaggeration. I met him two or three times before I photographed him, and as with all great relationships, my love for him was predicated on respect. Last night at about 10:30, with my eyes starting to drip blood as I was editing 80 gigs of video (throwing out the unacceptable footage), I turned the TV on and there was Vito. Somewhere towards the middle of the documentary, up popped one of the 300 photos I had taken of him over the years. As a filmmaker, I was extremely proud that they held that photo and then zoomed in, and for HBO it was shown for an eternity. Then again, they used it at the end of the piece. Twenty-four years ago, the last thing I remember is Vito and I in a warm embrace at the end of the shoot. Photography is more important than money; it’s history, visual literacy that will not allow us to forget. Sometimes, even I forget the power and beauty of a still photograph.
To all the ships at sea; still working on the book, looking for photographs of the Olympic trials. This photo was done for Time Magazine, doesn’t really need a caption. Shot with a Canon f1 EOS-1N, 180mm lens, 1/200th of a second, at 2.8 kodachrome 64.
To all the ships at sea; we’ve been working on the third and final edit of my book. The problem is, we have five different titles. Maybe in the next 20 years I’ll become decisive, who knows? While looking for an illustration of a London pub, I found an old kodachrome 200, shot on a Nikon f2 with a 15mm 5.6 lens, at 1/30 of a second, wide open, handheld. Hollywood spends an awful lot of money smoking a set to get this type of effect. The smoke may not be good for you, but it’s beautiful on film. Smoke and back lighting; it doesn’t get better than that. Go out and make some great photos. It’s all good. Joe D.
Today is Tuesday. I’ve had three back to back days – 14 hours, 15 hours, 12 hours and today I’m doing a short segment on Ricky Boscorino for our Photo Retreat in July. Late last night or early this morning (I genuinely forget) I stumbled across an essay I did on Mountain Biking. One frame got my attention. When we pick up a camera, we all strive to make a new photo but 99% of the time it’s been made before. So we try to put a new spin on it. Guess what? 99% of the time someone’s already done that. It’s up to us though, to keep trying. That’s what we do. It’s all Good. Canon film camera 14mm lens 1/250 f/5.6 film Velvia 50
Everyday of our lives, is an important day. Six months ago I made a decision to teach a work shop at Gleason’s Gym. When my studio manager reminded me that it was my birthday I said great. I consider work a privilege and what better to do then teach photography at Glesons’ Gym. Its just does not get better then that. I knew it was going to a very special and an amazing eclectic group. From Brazil, Chili, Colombia, England, Norway, and all over the east coast. A great balance between men and women, and great help from JoAnne Kalish, Larry Malang, Peter Poremba. It was a hell of a great day. Life is funny, I was on a great natural high, and I got back to the studio. Did not check my voice mail, did not check my email, downloaded the cards, checked facebook. I don’t check it that often and I find one of my close friend died of a heart attack. It was Bert Sugar. On Wednesday, I called Bert, he answered me as usual “Uncle Joe.” I always call him the “Bertster”. I asked him how he was feeling, and he said” I have lung cancer, and have internal bleeding but that’s not the problem.” Then I asked him what the big problem was? He said, “I have F@$!#ing terminal acne.” Thats the Bertster, no matter what the dialogue is he always finds humor in it. He was loved by millions, hated by thousands, he was a true Damon Runyon character and a great friend. I will miss him, yes I will miss him… Off the record, he suffered “Cuttysheimers”, his words not mine. RIP Bert Sugar.
Bert Sugar, Playwright Budd Schulberg, and son Benn Schulberg
Well, next year it’ll have been 30 years since I loaded film into your Nikons at the 1982 Indy 500. It was a complete thrill to finally be able to work the other side of the fence after growing up at the track each May tagging along with my Dad. Of course things have changed a bit since then. In addition to the digital revolution, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway has undergone a major facelift and is a World-class facility. I started shooting the 500 for Reuters in 1990 and have been back ever since. Last year, I had the honor of having my college-aged daughter, Ainslie, join the family “business” and become the 4th generation of Millers to pick up a camera at the 500. Back at the 1982 you captured the memorable image of the Johncock/Mears finish, and who knew that 24 years later in 2006 I’d repeat the feat by capturing the Hornish/Andretti finish that would appear double-trucked in SI as well as the NY Times.
I am so proud of you not only as a photographer but as one hell of a fine human being. There are very few young people that would give up their bed back in the day so we could get to the Indy 500 at 5 A.M. to beat the traffic. And like many of my assistants, you did so much more than just load film into my Nikons. Without your help, that photograph would not have been done. It’s something that I’ve been aware of my whole life. We tend to think we work in isolation. We tend to think how important we are. But the same way that Rick Mears would say “It’s a team effort”, I say the same thing. We worked as a team. Your work is amazing. You deserve everything that you get and some more. And who knows- maybe in the next couple of years, we’ll have an opportunity to work together again. Keep on shooting and remember the first rule of photographing racecars: Never turn your back on one.