Everybody who ever knew Don Blair has a story about the experience. He remains one of the most beloved instructors, artists, friends in professional photography. He may have passed away in 2004, but Big Daddy's spirit lives one.
When I posted a short story about him last weekend, I never anticipated the response. In Jeff Lubin's forum on Facebook, which every serious photographer should follow, there was a stream of Don Blair comments and the best tribute I can give my good buddy is to share them with you.
If you're a serious professional photographer and doing portraits, somewhere in your life, whether you knew Big Daddy or not, you've been influenced by somebody who he spent time with, somebody whose heart he touched.
So, Big Daddy, it's that time of year when you'd be wishing everybody a "Cool Yule" and wearing that ugly sweater with every color in the rainbow...we miss you, but your quest to create the ultimate image is alive and well with thousands of us.
Jeff Mantler: Numbnuts & Nieces Skip! Big Daddy was truly a legendary character amongst characters... So many great stories that can't be aired publicly, I'm sure you both have some too!
Ronald J Krowne As one of the directors of the LI Photo Workshop, I had the privilege to spend alot of time with both Don & Monte in their "closing years'- I will forever cherish those priceless memories- and be grateful for all the knowlege they shared with us all. I have a photograph of a glorously laughing Monte placed next to my phone. I see it as I answer every business call, hearing Monte's voice in my head. . In truth- "We may never see the likes of them again"
Carole Honeyman-Huff I had the pleasure of meeting and studying with Don Blair about one week after I moved to the U.S. He gave me a wonderful welcome and scared me half to death: I wondered if ALL American photographers were like him and if so.... how could I ever hope to survive here.... then I quickly learned he was a most unique man, and a wonderful one too. There are times I'm glad I'm 'old' and got to grow up with our 'greats'.
Yoti Telio In my study library I cherish a great book by him called Body Parts from many years Ago
Woody Bowen Don was THE Master. I saw him first in Miami in 1970 and thereafter every time I had a chance. He had a way of saying things in a way that stuck. He was moving hands and arms, elbows and wrists in one of his presentations and as he the model's hand his his he said, "Now whatever you find on these pretty things that will bend, you bend it. 90 degree angles aren't "purdy"
Woody Bowen And who doesn't remember shifting the model from one "he-who" to the other "he-who"? When Don said it, his student had it. Would that there were more teachers like that in every field.
Jeff Mantler My favorite Blair technical advise, "always light a bride across her credentials!" - I still have Monte and Joe Zeltsman seminars on audio from the early 70's
Ronald J Krowne Many years ago, at the LIPW, both Monte & Don's classes were terribly under enrolled. Rather than cancel them, they consented to co-teach the week long class together. Boy, did those students have an incredibly learning experience !!
Kirk Saint I was fortunate enough to spend two separate weeks with Big Daddy. To this day I still employ his barebulb technique on most of my outdoor portraiture.
...and the memories and stories simply live on! Thank you everybody!