Meeting your Heroes
There's an old adage that you should never meet your heroes. The idea is that they'll never live up to your expectations and you're sure to be disappointed, so you're better off just sticking with your probably false yet positive conceptions. In the past few years of taking pictures I've had the opportunity to meet and talk to some of my heroes and the results were decidedly mixed. Some have been better than expected, and some a disappointment. Spending 30 minutes chatting and shooting author and host of the old TV series Connections on BBC, James Burke for instance, was one of the top 10 experiences of my life. It's ok to laugh, I don't care if you think I'm a nerd. Well as you can probably gather by the previous post, yesterday I got to spend some time with legendary photographer Jay Maisel at his enormous 35,000 square foot studio building on the Bowery. This is a guy who shot that out of focus picture of Marilyn, and the cover of Kind of Blue, and pretty much all the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit stuff from when I was a kid. This guy has probably shot more Kodachrome in his life than all the pictures taken by everyone reading this combined.
All of those drawers are filled with tear sheets and unsigned prints for VIPs. Crazy. I couldn't imagine keeping 15 copies of every magazine my work has been in.
His building was like something like Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory for photographers. A giant, 120 year old bank building that he's been in since the 60's. In the basement is the old bank vault which has been retrofitted with an environmental system to become his archive. About 25x10 feet and stocked completely full with boxes of slides. Here are a couple shots to give you some idea. That's John, the studio manager getting shot by Randy Duchaine.
Here's a sample box of slides. Apparently his system is to make marks along the top edge of the slide of images he likes. So over time, the more marks, the better the photo. Pretty slick eh? And this is a man who likes to save his images.
The little tabs in the box are very specific. For example: "Pittsburgh - Sunset&Buildings", "FLA Canaveral", "FLA, Forest - Semi Sharp", "Florida Wire Fence Bridge", and so forth. I'm sure there's a system, but it's a bit beyond me. I'm terrible about tagging my images, so this is a whole other level.
Here's where the bad pictures go. So don't take bad pictures. Actually, there were bins and boxes and bags of unused slides all over the place. Behind bars outside the vault, and inside plexi topped tables. It was like packing peanuts. Then again, when you've got 60 years of pictures and you shot them all on chrome, that's what's gonna happen.
Finally here's a picture of Jay and I chatting taken by Randy. I need to do more of that. Getting my picture taken with people as opposed to always just taking it of them. Like a record of all the people I've met in my life.
Anyway, a good time. Jay looked through my books and made some really glowing comments to me which I'll be sure to parrot to my clients as proof that I know what I'm doing. Thought all of you might get a kick out of some of the images and such behind the scenes. I guess the moral of the story is that sometimes, meeting your heroes works out just fine.