This evening, on Mike’s “The Online Photographer”, I read that he (Mike) had given something to someone, and never got it back:
“Even though others have done it to me—I sent a quite valuable Charles Peterson print to American Photo once, for a show announcement, and they “lost” it. Yeah, right. I’ll bet it got lost right into somebody’s collection.”
That reminded me of a book I once gave to a colleague who just bought a DSLR. I wanted to show that colleague a good example of how to use small, external flashes to do almost everything, and so I gave him this book of a real master photographer: Joe McNally.
I never got it back. The colleague swears that he did give it back to me, and I searched every bookshelf and locker and backpack and whatever, both at home and at work, and cannot even remember having gotten it back.
“What the heck”, you might ask, “it’s only €23.95, so get over it and get a new one!”. Yeah, that was also the proposal of the colleague after I told him that I really don’t have the book. But:
Joe hand-signed this very copy of his book for me when I met him at Photokina 2010 in Cologne, and my brother Willi and me had the honor and the pleasure to have the man join us for an hour (thanks to the Manfrotto School of Xcellence).
Ok – I’m over it by now, the loss of the book I mean. Much more important is the remembrance of that hour-long meeting with Joe. Assuming that others would surely nail him with questions about his camera and technique and whatever (since this was frickin’ Photokina), and since I had my brother Willi (a psychologist, not a photographer) in tow, I decided not to ask him to show me one of his cool lighting setups. Instead, we searched for a relatively quiet (well at least not so crowded) place where we could sit down and just talk. For an hour. About Joe. About his life, his work for National Geographic and the world’s other top magazines, about constantly being away from those you love, about war zones and the dangers involved, about when not to take a picture, but to help instead. I even told him about Kirk Tuck, who had done just that, once in Russia for instance.
Like every time when something good and interesting is happening, the hour went by much too fast, at least for us. But I’ll never forget it. Joe is a real nice and down to earth guy, not just that crazy one who chains himself to the Empire State just to take photos of the workers who have to change the light bulbs up there. He is living and breathing photography – always did. And beside signing my copy of his book, he was nice enough to take my brother’s portrait for us, using my Olympus E-520 with the 40-150mm kit zoom, right there at the table where we sat (he would have preferred a shorter lens tho, to show more context – but I wasn’t fast-thinking enough to just change that lens for him):
Thank you, Joe, again. It was an honor to spend this hour with you.