It's Throwback Thursday, and there's a great lesson that goes with the backstory on the image above. (Note: Apologies for the quality of the images in this post - they're scans from the original book since the negatives for the originals are long since gone.)
It's 1998 and Don Blair, and I decided to do a book together; Don Blair's Guide to Lighting and Posing Body Parts. I've written a lot about the project in past posts. It remains one of the most important and special projects in my career. It wasn't just a great book to help photographers raise the bar on their portraits but a testimonial to a group of extraordinary friends, the Four Musketeers, Terry Deglau, Tony Corbell, Don Blair and me.
Don and I chose to shoot all the images for "Body Parts" in Las Vegas using local models. Since the book was going to be introduced at WPPI in 1999 at the opening night program, we wanted to be able to stage tips in our live program from the book using the same models.
Terry and Tony came out to Vegas for four days to help us shoot. Remember, this is all pre-digital using Polaroid proofs for our storyboards and shooting everything on Kodak Portra. Well, Terry had an idea for the author shot of the book bringing body parts from a scrap yard into the theme.
After three days of shooting everything for the book, he headed out to a junkyard outside of Vegas. He found the perfect scrap yard for the shoot but then had to explain it to the owner. It wasn't an easy sell until he mentioned one of the authors was a famous photographer. Well, the owner of the junkyard asked, "Oh yeah, who?"
When Terry mentioned Don Blair from Utah, the guy lit up like a Christmas tree. "He did my senior portrait from high school in 1982!" That was all it took. We had carte blanche to do anything we wanted. He opened the yard for us on a Sunday morning, and with Terry's direction, he moved cars around along with the crane in position for the background.
While the image we eventually used for the cover of the book was Bambi Cantrell's on the right, the "Junkyard Dogs" had a two-page spread in the book. Plus, we loved the images so much, we later used them for some fun publicity releases over the next few years.
And here's my point; nothing is more valuable than your reputation. Never compromise on the quality of your brand because it's your shadow. And depending on which way you're headed, it's often leading the way as well as being behind you!
Don never compromised on his love for the craft, respect for his subjects or his passion for the quest to capture the ultimate image. Someone once asked him, "What's the best photograph you've ever made?" he answered, "I don't know. I haven't made it yet!"
But my most favorite memorable comment from Don was at a class he was teaching. We had a photographer who thought he could make a point about Don always having beautiful models who asked, "So what do you do when the bride isn't beautiful?" Don looked him straight in the eyes and couldn't have been more direct, "There's no such thing!"
Terry Deglau and Tony Corbell in action during the making of "Body Parts."
Throwback Thursday is all about memories. While, these images take me back to one of those wonderful times in my life and a milestone with my first book, they mean so much more. They're a reminder that nothing beats great friendships! It's what I love most about our industry, and it's why I almost always share author Jodi Picoult's quote:
" This is what I like about photographs.
They're proof that once, even if just for a heartbeat, everything was perfect."
Use Throwback Thursday for your own trip down Memory Lane or as content on your blog. Throwback images are a perfect way to remind "Mom" how quickly time is flying by, the fast kids are growing, and the importance of a new family portrait!
Happy Throwback Thursday!
PS Time to call Terry and Tony!
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.