I've written a lot about Don Blair over the years, but not just because I miss the guy so much. In fact, everybody who knew him misses him. I love to share the stories with those of you who never knew him, because he's responsible for, along with several other great artists, leaving us a legacy of great portraiture.
The images below are from the launch of a book we did together, Don Blair's Guide to Posing and Lighting Body Parts. We pre-sold the book prior to WPPI '99, which today we'd call "crowd funding". Then, we delivered all orders right at the convention after doing the opening program, which was based on the contents of the book. Out of that evening event came two of my favorite Don Blair stories.
When we actually shot the images for the book, we did it all in Las Vegas, because we wanted to use the same models in the actual WPPI program later on. While the program wasn't scripted, we did have an outline of what we wanted to do and I made Don promise me he'd stick to the schedule.
There were two fun surprises that night, one planned and one that I could never have seen coming.
The First Surprise
Don's trademark was his red hat. Well, we stole his red hat an hour or two before the program. We had Don on stage and announced we couldn't continue without his hat. Unknown to Don, together with help from Terry Deglau and Kodak, we had bought 200 red hats, just like his. Sitting in the first four rows, everybody had on a Don Blair red hat. Don's son Gary appeared at the back of the room with a body guard team of guys right out of a CIA movie. Gary had a briefcase chained to his wrist and inside the case was Don's hat. We put the hat back on his head and once he stopped laughing, the program kicked off.
So, let me know in the comment section who you recognize!
The Second Surprise and Don Never Forgave Me...LOL
The evening program was in six sections, each one a scene from the book. Each scene represented one of Mother Nature's challenges. We did bald heads, eye glasses, short groom with a tall bride, etc.
When we got to the section on hand-posing, I sent up the models, but instead Don did the tall groom short bride sequence. I was upset that he didn't follow the plan! Although nobody else heard it, the videographer recording the program definitely heard me say in the secondary mic I was wearing,
"What the F&*%, he's doing the wrong segment!"
Actually, he was doing the only segment he could do, because for hand-posing I had sent him the wrong couple. I sent him a great groom, but a bride with only eight fingers! Not the most ideal subject for hand-posing, but he never missed a beat and just continued with the program.
Years later I was with Don. It was a week before he passed away and I'll never forget him looking at me and saying,
"My man...I still can't believe you sent me a bride with only eight fingers for hand-posing!"
There's only one real point to make with this week's Throwback Thursday post...cherish every memory you make with friends in this industry. Each event becomes a classic and often, life is just too short. Fortunately we're in the business of capturing memories. Our images keep those memories and stories alive forever!
Images copyright Cantrell Portrait Design. All rights reserved.
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