Last Friday a good friend and one of Don Blair's favorite "nieces", Cindy Smith, posted a wonderful tribute to Don on her Facebook page. It was ten years ago he passed away. While there's rarely a day that goes by that something doesn't happen that makes me think of him, I can't help but feel he's watching over all of us in the industry right now. Sadly, there are too many of you who never got to know him, hear him speak or take one of his workshops. However, you do know the legacy of quality and techniques he left us.
This image, along with the copy I wrote below, ran in the November 2004 issue of Rangefinder Magazine as a full page. I found it as a pdf on an old backup drive last night. In all honesty, there are only two simple points this morning...I wanted you guys to meet one of my very best friends and classic portraiture is timeless.
Within minutes of the announcement on September 26 that Don Blair had passed away, there was an eerie silence that started in every studio in Utah and stretched around the globe. It was simply inconceivable that he was no longer with us.
“Big Daddy” was the recipient of virtually every award and honor in professional photography. Over the last 64 years his presence in photography has been as consistent as the daily window light he used so often in his portraiture. It’s hard to imagine he’s gone, but here’s the beauty of what he achieved – maybe he hasn’t left us at all…
There are hundreds of thousands of photographs created every year all over the world using the lighting and posing techniques Don Blair taught and often had created. If immortality and success can be defined as the number of lives a person has touched, Don Blair has plenty of both.
He never compromised on quality and never quit a single project he ever started, no matter how impossible it might have been. He was an ambassador for much more than just photography. He was an ambassador for life with an unmatched passion for the human spirit and friendships.
Lord Alfred Tennyson wrote, “I am a part of all that I have met.” Every professional photographer who ever attended one of Don’s seminars or met him at a convention became as much a part of Big Daddy’s life as he did theirs.
The mark of a great portrait lies in the ability of the photographer to capture the essence of the subject in the lighting, the pose and the expression. Nobody could have captured Big Daddy better than in this image created by two of his closest friends, Louise and Joseph Simone, just two years ago.
If you’re real quiet and just stare into this image you can almost hear him thanking you for being a part of his life and the profession he loved so much.
As he so often said to all of us, “Hey, I love ya man!”
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