In my career I have been blessed with a few fortunate lucky right place, right time relationships. The first and foremost was attending the University of Missouri school of Journalism Workshop. It really doesn’t get better than that. The second would be assisting W. Eugene Smith who taught me more about communications then anyone. Actually, he taught me more about many things but for the purpose of this we won’t go there. When asked to deliver a keynote speech at the NPPA, one of the people I thanked was Bill Eppridge. I would love to tell you that I know Bill well but as the truth be known, that’s just is not so. But here’s what I do know. Bill Eppridge has very few peers. He stands alone with his great talent. He also has another quality that generally photographers don’t have. He’s an extremely humble about what he’s accomplished over the last few decades and he’s still a viable force to be dealt with. Bill invited me to his retrospective at the Fairfield Museum. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend. This past Sunday I had a little time off and decided to go to Fairfield, Connecticut to see the show. I thought I knew exactly what I was going to see. Boy, was I wrong. I had no idea the depth and scope of his work. Like many other photographers, we know about the positive RFK Photos, but the retrospective truly showed what an amazingly great talent he is. This is one of the few times I wish I was a great writer because there aren’t enough adjectives to express what an important body of work he has. Photographer Alfred Eisenstadt, once told me, he had maybe only a dozen fine photographs. When I had the audacity to tell him, “no you have thousands of great photographs,” he smiled, clicked his heels and said, “one day you will understand.”
Thanks Bill for continuing to teach me the importance and power of a great still image.
About 7 years ago, I walked into Gleason’s gym on a very hot August day. The 3 rings were filled with boxers. 2 rings had 4 or 5 people in each one of them going through different protocols. There were 2 young men in a full-blown sparring session. I didn’t know either one of them. I walked over towards the red corner and started to recalibrate my white balance. A gentleman came over, drank some water, looked at me, and said, “If I have one loss, my career will be over and I’ll be back to being an electrician”. He was sweating profusely, he had beautiful intense eyes, and under his 2-day beard, a great smile. Little did I know then that James Moore was going to be the focal point for my film In This Corner. Why, you may ask? Because I didn’t go to Gleason’s to shoot a feature documentary, but rather a 15-minute teaching vignette on JoAnne Kalish’s action photography DVD. I’m pretty sure anyone who knows me has heard me say that the first rule of photojournalism/documentary films is never become friends with the protagonists. That is not your job. Your job is to record what they do in the most honest and sincere way with no prejudice and no rooting for a winner. I will share a quote with you from Cliff Edom. (Cliff Edom is the father of modern photojournalism and was, and in some ways, still is, the backbone of the University of Missouri School of Journalism photo workshop).
“Show truth with a camera. Ideally, truth is a matter of personal integrity. In no circumstances will a posed or a fake photograph be tolerated.” ~Clifton C. Edom
Sunday June 26 2011, I will remember vividly. That’s the day that I shut down the Lady Liberty ferry for approximately 55 minutes and later that day I attended James and Leanne Moore son’s christening. And he was christened with a beautiful name. Dylan Michael Moore. You just have to love the name Dylan Michael. At this point, I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that I have all the respect in the world for event photographers. It’s not something that I know how to do properly or particularly like doing. So please enjoy some of the snapshots of the christening party.
I think I bent one of the rules.