As I was thinking about what to write this morning because there's nothing in the pipeline, I was looking at the wall over one of the two desks in my office. It occurred to me that each piece on the wall represents a chapter in my life.
People outside the industry are always surprised that our house is covered with photography, all images from friends over the years. If you were to describe my life regarding what I've collected, I guess I'm a professional memory collector and creator. This wall in my office is a prime example.
It starts with Afghan Girl by Steve McCurry. It was a present from Catherine Hall who used to be one of his assistants. It's signed, but it's also my favorite because it's one of the most recognized portraits in the world and testimony to having a great skill set. McCurry didn't set out to create an iconic image, but he had the skills to capture it!
Then at the top is an award-winning image that Jerry Ghionis did one year at WPPI of Ryan Schembri with Johnny Cash in the background. It's a favorite, first because it's just so good and second because both Jerry and Ryan have been good buddies of mine for years. Most of you today think of Jerry as a wedding photographer, but don't ever sell his skill set short. I'm not sure there's anything he can't shoot.
The portrait of the woman looking down is from another Aussie, Giorgio Karayiannis. There's a great backstory on this one. It was called "Cancer Patient" and scored a 100 in WPPI Print Competition in 2006. We later wanted to run it as a cover for Rangefinder Magazine and lost the argument to the owner of the company. He thought it was morbid and wouldn't allow us to use it. Personally I think it's stunning. She was a cancer survivor, and the image was then being used by one the Cancer associations for their fund-raising back then. It ran in the magazine but never made it to cover status.
The guy in flight on the time machine is a Vedros original because it's not only from another good friend, but it was done before digital. All the special effects in every Nick Vedros print back then were done in the studio - no photoshop! He was a master at creating images without a computer because it was the only way to do it. Today, he's still one of the finest commercial photographers in the world, and I can't help but believe a huge part of his success is never doing anything half way. His skill set is incredible, and I love the way he presents in a workshop, often taking us through what an art director wanted and then, how he interpreted it for the final results.
Then there's Astro...Maria Lopez is another good friend and thanked me for helping to create some Spanish speaking programs one year at WPPI by presenting me with this cartoon. Her father, Ernesto, who sadly passed away last year, had been a cartoonist for Hannah Barbera way back when. It's one my most favorite memories.
"Little Bengt and the Forssbaecks" never really made it as an album, but this is probably from sometime around 1991, and it was created by our printer at the time. Again, it's pre-digital. Bengt Forssbaeck was the VP of Marketing for Hasselblad in Sweden. We fought and argued just about every day during the twelve years I was president of Hasselblad USA. However, with each argument the friendship became stronger. We became the very best of friends. He passed away many years ago, but there's isn't a week that goes by that I don't think about him.
On one of his visits we either grew or trimmed our beards, had the same shirt and tie on (both ugly) so we could look just like Bengt (on the far right). It was a classic practical joke. That's me, Chuck Guttierez (then sales manager), Al Zimmerman, VP of HUSA and later president and Bengt. We wanted it to look like an album cover.
Sometime around 1994 I bought Ansel Adams 1977 Cadillac on behalf of Hasselblad. We then sold it as a fund-raiser for $12,000 and the money went to Photographers + Friends United Against AIDS. There are enough stories about the car for an entire Throwback Thursday post, which I'm going to run this next week. That's Ansel Adams' widow, Virginia, turning the keys over to me along with the original rear license plate from the car.
Back to the top right - Hasselblad was awarded one of the best Swedish companies in America in 1998 and Al and I headed off to D.C. to receive the award at the Swedish Embassy. It was a pretty amazing evening and event. The US company represented just over a third of Hasselblad's worldwide volume at the time.
Last on the list, David Ziser sponsored me as a Kentucky Colonel after speaking at what's become the Kentucky Professional Photographers Convention. The certificate is the most recent memory on the wall, but it's a classic. The state of Kentucky has done an amazing job drafting professionals from all over the world to support so many different charitable events. Best of all is a business card with "Colonel Skip Cohen" on it. Somehow, "Colonel Skip" just doesn't fit.
So, there you have it...a post that's technically too long and the images of just one wall that pretty much tell a story of at least twenty-five years of my career!
As always, make it a great Sunday. Take the time to appreciate family and friends and go for those eleven-second hugs. Remember, not just today, but all the time - be proud of what you do for a living. No industry has given the world what photography does every day, and whether digital or analog, that's not about to change. As Scott Bourne once said, "We're the high priests of memory protection!"
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