by Skip Cohen
It's Throwback Thursday and this is a fun post to share. I've been blogging long enough to share a favorite backstory from my own archives. I originally shared this story on a Sunday Morning Reflections post in 2014, but Ansel Adams has lately come up in a few different conversations about my Hasselblad days. So, it seems appropriate to show you his camera gear through the eyes of my good buddy, Nick Vedros.
That's Ansel Adams' camera gear on the right. It was loaned to him by Victor Hasselblad. In later years, Victor passed away, and then sometime before Ansel died, he gave it to his assistant, Rod Dresser, and told him, "It's consigned to me, just use it and keep it in good shape. When Hasselblad wants it back, they'll ask for it."
The years went by, and nobody knew the gear was out there. Rod called me one day, probably around '94, and told me about the equipment. He didn't feel right still having it.
We replaced it for him with newer gear as long as he'd help us promote it for charity. In the end, we raised $100,000 for The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and the Center for Creative Photography, when shock jock, Don Imus, put in his bid...and later wrote me a check!
But the fun of Throwback Thursday images isn't about the photographs themselves, but the memories and stories that come bubbling to the surface when looking at an old photo. They become catalysts to memory launches, and through the pandemic and losing touch with so many friends, they've never been more important!
Today's backstory is a perfect example: I wanted to run an ad for the fund-raiser, and Nick Vedros offered to help us with an image. His concept was to create something that looked like part of a shipment of artifacts to a museum. He wanted to establish historical value with one shot. Remember, this is all in the film days with no chance to play around on a computer!
Nick built a box and stylized the shot, finishing with a little light painting to give it the intense look of a shipment of valuable relics. The idea was brilliant, and it worked, but the most fun as I look back on those days is my cherished friendship with Nick.
Today's Throwback Thursday post isn't really about old photographs but friendships. I've spent my entire life in this industry and, along the way, met some amazing people - one of them, Nick Vedros. I've repeatedly described him as one of the finest and most creative commercial photographers in the world today. But his success isn't just about his creativity and skill set. It's about the commitment he makes to his friends, the integrity he puts into every client relationship, and his unmatched passion for life.
I've written this a few dozen times and just mentioned it in a podcast recently: the best thing about this industry has NOTHING to do with photography directly, but the friendships that come out of everyone's love for the craft.
I consider myself one of the luckiest guys in the industry because I keep getting opportunities to work with some of the most creative artists in the world! Through the pandemic especially, I did my best to stay in touch with old friends, but I met a lot of new people through the three podcasts Chamira Young, and I do, along with my role at Platypod.
In everyone’s life, at some time, our inner fire goes out.
It is then burst into flame by an encounter with another human being.
We should all be thankful for those people who rekindle the inner spirit.
To my buddy Nick on this Throwback Thursday, thanks for being a pyromaniac and setting so many "inner spirit" fires over the years. My head is jam-packed with Vedros stories. But, we're overdue to make some new ones!
And to all of you - Throwback Thursday comes once a week - don't let it slip by without taking some time to appreciate all those great backstories that are part of your life. Then, get out and start making new ones for the future!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.