It’s 2011 and I’m NOT the guy to the left. Anyone should know I don’t have that much hair. Last week, as I drove through a Toll Booth on the Florida’s Turnpike, the loveliest booth operator I’d ever met thought I was, for sure, “Why, look at chew! Yer that guy on TV…sure you are….um, (snap the thumb and fingers three times) Yer, you know…..oh, c’mon, tell me your name!!” I glanced over at my son in the passenger seat, looking for his reaction to his dad being a famous, nameless TV guy….he never looked up, he was too busy playing Ken and Barbie, or some goofy game on his iPhone. As she was making change, I answered as a guess…”McGuyver?” “NOOOOO!” “Jack Benny?” “No, I’ll think of it!” She handed me my change and smiled big at me. I drove away, my 15 seconds of fame, stumped as to who she thought I was. Just a few seconds later, it dawned on me, she thought I was Larry David. HA! What was she doing watching a show like his?
A couple of summer’s ago at a benefit Traverse City Film Festival party, I had a guy look over my way and say, “Hey Larry…how do you like Traverse City and this festival? Do your kids go to Interlochen?” I looked over my shoulder for Larry David, then I realized in a instant, what this guy thought, was that he was hitting on a celebrity at a TCFF party…..Of COURSE Larry David would be there! “Oh”, I said, “this is a wonderful place…how do you like it?” He started gushing on and on about how he just moved up here and paid all this money and paid for blah, blah & blah….EWWW! Fame is a curse…and it’s worse when someone thinks you are someone you are not. Privacy is invaded. Suddenly, people can take all kinds of liberties with a stranger, who they are sure is “______”. I was at least comforted at the thought that I wasn’t mistaken for Suzanne Somers.
I’m no movie star, TV star, stage idol, music super star…..I’m just little ol’ me. A legend in my own shower. Hanging my hat on this shiny pate for over 30 years as a “photographer”. (Photographer, short for “Oh, I bet you take the best pitchers of butterflies out there in the field”)
Most people, including my parents (Hi mom and dad!), are clueless what a “Photo-graphic-er” is or does. I imagine since some photographer, (person with camera in-hand) in most people’s past found some way to traumatize said victim, photographers are to be avoided like root canals.
With the advent of the electronic camera, taking pitchers is in everyone’s hand, just like George Eastman had envisioned a hundirt thurdy years ago…
“What the heck? Who needs a photographer? I got a camera!” Thank goodness! You…of all people, have gone out a bought a camera! Y-O-U are a photographer now! Congratulations. We’ve got a Baldwin piano at home, so I must be a pianist!
Many, many people like to buy photographic equipment…it’s some of the finest, most precise inventions in mankind. Oh, and “My, what a BIG lens…..!” Every goofy ring-tone phone comes with a camera now. (One of my boyhood friends’ phone plays the theme from the “Exorcist”, when his wife calls him……suh-weet!) To me, cameras are a tool, a means to an end. I don’t worship or collect them any more than a plumber collects wrenches. Yeah, I use the best stuff out there…it’s gotta hold up to unbelievable use, travel and makeup powder.
My marketing statement for years has been…..”I don’t take pictures….I make them”. Think about it…you don’t take a painting, you make one. You don’t take an ashtray (in pottery class) you make one. Everybody with a camera takes pitchers. They don’t need me. They already do it. They snap their kids first poop, blowing out birthday candles, picking their friends’ nose, their first bike, first car, first drunk, they shoot everything…it’s ALL recorded. That’s dandy. But for all the Amateur Ansels’ out there, 99.875% of it is just noise. Yeah, sure it’s fun. Go get’em cowboy. Shoot your brains out. Shoot all day! But making a good image from a camera, one that makes everyone go “WOW”, regardless of quality of the camera, is kinda like performing a solo, on stage, with everyone watching and listening and judging and analyzing and comparing and appreciating the ease, smoothness and collaboration with the other performers. You just don’t get up and do it. And it’s not target practice….I don’t shoot anything. I’m not stalking prey. I’m not bulls-eying anything. (that’s poor composition). Yes. I aim my lens at the subject, just like you aim your car down your lane of the road. You’re not trying to hit anything. You are trying to get there.
So, for almost 32 years, I keep perfecting my craft. What do I do? I capture light. I don’t hunt it, it’s my primary tool. The guy who invented the term PHOTOGRAPH, must have taken a class or two from the ancients…see it’s Greek roots are PHOTO (light) & GRAPH (write). Write with light. Give a chimp a camera and sooner or later, he’ll take a pitcher. I RECORD what I light, with a camera. Light has to caress the subject, like soft bunny fur under your chin. I don’t take the miners-helmet-light approach of all the “shooters” with the flash perched atop their prized NiCanOlyLeiPanSonJi. It takes a church van to move my equipment to a location. The last case in is the camera bag. It’s all lights, backgrounds, tools, power everything, massive this and thats, heavy as all HECK. It’s not the camera, it’s the light. The concept, the vision. That’s what I do. A still version of a movie set.
Why? Because I like to create the best possible image. Why? Because I can’t stand Mediocre. Why? Because I can. Because there is a market for making people, places and products look great. Why do beauty salons exist, when we can wash our hair at home? Why are there barber shops when we all have a pair of scissors in our drawer? Why do we have car washes when we have our own hose? Why do we have hospitals? Why do we have movie theatres? Why do we have hotels, restaurants, offices? Because of the specialized, accurate, professional care and treatment these places and people provide.
You may like to type all day, or sell things, or serve things or save things or order things….I like to make people and things look great! Unmistakably great. Wow, great. I love to make people FEEL great. To put a great face with their name. To preserve and record the best possible part and look of a face, to be remembered for future generations to view at our good looks. In future pages, you’ll see how we do it and why you should have it done. I have heard all the excuses. Your time is up. Come down out of your room right now, young lady!
There’s something you need to know.