Merry Christmas from The Platt Family

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Merry Christmas from Platt Photography and the Platt family.

Here is the 2011 Christmas card photo shoot.  My wife, Danielle is always coming up with great ideas for our Christmas cards.  Each year, after Christmas, she starts working on the next year’s photo concept.  This years was particularly difficult as we had to find all the clothing and the props.  Some of it is completely authentic period clothing and some of it was either rented or even made for the photo shoot.

All of this started when my mother produced my grand-father’s kindergarten outfit from the early 1900’s.  Then, Danielle was able to find a dress from about 1890 on ebay.  She found some cute clothes for my daughter off the modern rack that had the same feel and then my eldest son and I rented various costume pieces and my mother sewed a few things we could not find.  I also needed a period camera.  The 4×5 camera I own is too new (circa 1940), so I put out an APB for wooden field camera and my friend Keith Pitts came through.  It is an old thing and in need of much work, but looks great.  Danielle also found an old wooden tripod, but there was no plate to connect the camera to the tripod, so we had to put the camera on a modern tripod and then lash the wood tripod to the outside of the modern tripod.  Then with a little photoshop work, I was able to remove the modern tripod where it was showing through.

You will note that all of the photos are cropped to an 8×10 aspect ratio.  I wanted to keep the authenticity of the shots even down to the aspect ratio common for the time period (i.e. 4×5 or 8×10) owing to the use of large format negatives, glass plates or tin types.  I suppose I get a little persnickety about the details, but I wanted it to feel very authentic.

Here is a photo of my grandfather wearing the outfit my youngest son is now wearing in our photos.  Earl is the one on the left.

My kids were thrilled with this photo shoot.  I told the boys, you are not supposed to smile on any of these photos.  “Really?  Awesome!”  They loved it.

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This is one of my favorites from the entire photo shoot.  It was just a grab during the planning of the photo, but I love it, love it!

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Jackson was really getting into the role.  I explained to my kids that in old photos no one smiled because they couldn’t hold a smile long enough for the long shutter speed and that they were always uncomfortable because they had to hold still and they sometimes even had a brace on their neck to keep them perfectly still for the photograph.  So he did his best.  Indiana (my daughter) on the other hand just did whatever she wanted.

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I think this photograph is a perfect representation of Britton’s relationship with Indiana in comparison to the photo above.  Britton has taken it upon himself to be Indie’s protector and caring older brother.  He puts Indie first at all times and she is completely confident with her big brother as her backup.

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This is another one of my favorites.  Of course, the serious looks are perfect for the time period and not completely indicative of my wife and oldest son, but there is something very truthful about this photograph.  You know, I always comment on how “true” images are of people that I photograph, but it is always with limited information about the people and who they are, so I am making educated guesses about their relationships and personalities (which I seem to get right most of the time), but when I photograph my own family, I get to see these shots and the “truths” contained in them with complete confidence that I am reading them correctly.  There is something very proud in their relationship, a seriousness to it, complete with expectations and determination to succeed.  Not that they are not playful with each other, but there is an element of seriousness in their relationship not as prevalent in her relationship with the other children that makes this photograph ring true.

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And Indie continues to smile.  She was just happy to be there.

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Now, if there is one other photograph that rings “true” in this collection it is this one.  This is a very good indication of my relationship with my daughter.  She loves me very much and I am smitten with that little angel.  She has taken to telling me two things on an hourly basis. “I love you” followed by, “I miss you daddy.”  This, of course, melts my heart.  I am not sure she understands what that means, but she seems to understand that it means that she wants to be around me.  She was sick last night and called for me, and I spent a few hours up with her throughout the night, and although she was sick and I was tired, we both thoroughly enjoyed the time together.  So, that is what is happening here in this photograph.  She is breaking away from the family group because I am over by the camera and she wants to be near me, not in a crying and southed only by daddy kind of way, but in a genuine excited to be in my arms, kind of way.

My brother Rex Platt (my chief second shooter) is taking all of the photos that I am in, by the way.  Thanks to Rex for all his help on this photo shoot.  He is a great photographer and an even greater friend.

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This boy just makes me smile every time I look at him.

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And I love this photograph.  That little muff was made by my mother.  It was hard to get Indie to put her hands in it, but as it got colder in the evening, it was much easier to get her to see the wisdom in using it.

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My mother also made his nickers.  Thanks mom.  Good job!

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I think I could have enjoyed being a photographer in 1890, I am, after all a technical kind of guy and good in the darkroom, but I don’t miss the film days in the least.  I shot these photos and an hour later I was sitting in a yogurt shop eating frozen yogurt, looking at the JPG copies of the shoot on my iPad with NIK’s Snapseed App adjusting them and making some preliminary crops and treatments, etc.  Then I went home and loaded the RAW images into Lightroom and made the first round picks and started adjusting them.  Minutes later, I was showing the images to my wife and making plans for the final Christmas card and this blog post, which will be released on Christmas Eve.  This kind of turn around was unheard of anytime in the 20th century.  So I don’t miss film one little bit even though I have extreme respect the medium.

About Snapseed by NIK.  This is the best photo software on the iPad or iPhone.  It does EVERYTHING I need to do to a photo on my iPhone or iPad.  I used to have 30 different photo apps to do what I needed to get done, but now, when I am working on a photo on my handheld devices, Snapseed is all I use.  You have to get this app if you work on your photos at all.

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And while I am on the subject of NIK Software, I also have to mention the fact that every photo in this series went through NIK’s Silver Effects Pro 2 (a Photoshop, Lightroom and Aperture Plugin).  Silver Effects Pro 2 is indispensable when you are serious about a film look.  In this case, as much as I like Lightroom’s grain structure, I needed the photos to have a very realistic and accurate grain structure to match the historical feel of the photos.  And when I need REAL FILM GRAIN, I exclusively turn to Silver Effects Pro 2.  It is the gold standard for grain and film effects in digital imaging.  I will have to post a tutorial on using NIK Silver Effects Pro 2, it is a great bit of software.  I have included a screen shot below; it looks and feels a lot like Lightroom.  I am shouting for a few obvious enhancements that need to be made and if I am successful, it will be absolutely perfect!

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I suppose I am a photographer, truly.  I know that sounds strange to say, but when I call someone a photographer, it does not mean they own a camera and make money with it.  A photographer is a different breed of human.  We live to document and capture with “meticulous exactitude”, the world around us.  We don’t separate work from play.  Photography is life, we don’t live unless we record life.  I say this because I am so in love with this photo session because it was an opportunity for me to do something creative, fun and meaningful to me and my family and it was hard work, and it was fun and I cherish the moments we spent creating it and I cherish even more the moments I have spent looking at and thinking about the images and what they mean.  People look at art (paintings and sculptures etc) and ask, “what does it mean,” but they don’t do that with most photographs, when in actuality, every photo has as much or more meaning than a concocted piece of art, because photographs have the added element of reality embedded in them.  Even the randomly captured images have a deep meaning in them, stories, emotions, feelings, joys, sorrows, etc…  I have been spending a lot of time with these photos this Christmas because I am proud of the execution and in love with the meanings they project.

I hope you get to spend a little time with a few photographs this Christmas and get the chance to ponder what they are saying to you.

Merry Christmas, from my family to yours and from my photographs to you.

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Photographs by Jared Platt and Rex Platt, Platt Photography

Location: Gilbert, Arizona

Framing Photos from Inside a Sunset

I looked out the window the other evening and the whole world had a Tang orange glow.  Nothing looked right and as I went outside with my boys to investigate, I walked into another world.  The clouds were thick and full of rain, so very little light came through them, but instead spilled over them from the sunset below.  The dust was so thick that we were not looking at the sunset, we were in the sunset.  It was a magnificent sight.  There was, of course no time to go anywhere other than stay right outside my home and watch this spectacle change as the sun dropped to the unseen horizon.  And when this kind of thing happens, you stay outside with your camera until the sun goes down completely.  I couldn’t have asked for a better evening with my boys, watching such an incredible display of light and clouds.

As I photographed the clouds, I thought of a conversation I had with John Craig from Pittsburgh about photographic composition and the critical nature of the frame.  I asked him, “if you could pass on to your daughter, only one thing about photography, only one quick lesson, what would that be?”  It is an interesting question and one I think everyone should ask themselves.  What would you pass on to the next generation if  you had only one concept to pass along?  Think about it before you answer.  Some will say something like “follow your passion” or some such platitudinous drivel, which has nothing to do with better photography.  What I am asking for is serious conceptual advice on making better photographs, compositional strategies and theories that will, if learned and practices, make any image (no matter the content) into a better photograph.

My answer to my own questions is this: I would teach my child how to see and use the frame well.  There are so many theories and strategies that go into using the frame of the image, which is a lesson for another time, but there is no question in my mind that it is the most important aspect of photographic composition.  Yes, of course there are others, but the frame is where it all starts and ends.  It is the great unifier of photography (we all have four edges to our frame).  And yet there is nothing that damns so many photographers to second rate status because they do not use the frame well (mostly, they don’t pay attention to it).

So I offer the following as a method for training your eye to use the frame wisely:

Alfred Stieglitz made a series of photographs of clouds, which he called “Equivalence“, in which, he was attempting to photograph object, which in and of themselves held no loaded messages, and simply explored controlling random compositions as pure abstraction.  The theory being that without the loaded imagery, one could focus more on communicating the expressions of the inner soul directly to the soul of the viewer.  All a bit too artsy for me, but there was still a brilliance in his selection of clouds as a subject.

The experience of photographing clouds is a fantastic lesson in framing which is the cornerstone of composition.  The organizational structures of the clouds keep changing, morphing into something new every minute, so that there are an infinite number of frames before your camera, with constantly changing elements.  But there are no intellectually loaded symbols to distract the photographer, so the act of including or excluding something is not to avoid a particular statement or to make a point, but rather it is simply to create a stronger composition.

The greatest failure of inexperienced photographers is their inability to emotionally and intellectually distance themselves from the subject matter and watch for composition.  But, with clouds, a photographer has the freedom to practice composition by disregarding the content and dealing only with the composition.

So, with such a perfect opportunity, I took a few moments to practice my framing and enjoy the experience of pure compositional shooting.  Here is my favorite image.

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And when I say, Tang Orange, I mean it.  This is perfectly accurate color.  What you see here was exactly what we were seeing.  We were literally inside the sunset.

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Guess that ISO – a lesson in film and digital grain structure

(First Published on the Pictage Blog, Thursday, Feb 11, 2010.)

So I have a little game I first played with Elizabeth Pratt from Canon. The game is called “Guess that ISO”. We are going to play it here today.  for those of you who are not professional photographers, ISO is the sensitivity rating of the film or chip in the camera.  Lower ISOs are best in bright lighting conditions and higher ISOs allow for proper exposure in low light situations.

Here is the image we are going to work with. It was shot with a Canon 1D Mark IV. This is the final image with various adjustments and increased noise reduction etc. I just wanted you to get a feel for the image we are working with.

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The Fine Print:

The zoomed in detail images below have only one adjustment applied. I have to be upfront here, I am not going to show you the original image with no noise reduction because that is not practical, no image is used without a default noise reduction. So, what I am showing you below is the image with absolute “normal” noise reduction in Adobe Lightroom. I have the NR set at 25, witch is the default for Lightroom for basically every camera on the market.

With the fine print out of the way, let’s play.

GUESS THAT ISO…

Look at the grain structure and noise levels and tell me what ISO did I use?

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Now for a little lesson on color noise and grain.

In the beginning, was film. Film is made up of millions and millions of floating silver halides (little flex of “want-to-be silvers). These silver halides float in a gelatin emulsion (like jello but harder – made mostly of cow hooves etc…). So, no film image is ever a continuous tone. Even the best film image has a grain structure to it. The image is made up of tiny little randomized dots that, when seen from a distance create the illusion of an image. George Seurat made paintings in this manner, which is known as pointillism. His paintings were constructed from random specks of paint placed in proximity to each other. Colors were mixed, not by blending pigment, rather, several dots of yellow and blue were mixed by the eye to create the illusion of green. As the dots got closer together, the tones became more dense and vice versa as they grew further apart. The further back you stand from a Seurat painting the better and more continuous the tones and colors in the painting appear. If you have ever seen a color newspaper or magazine up close, you have seen a very large and pattern based version of pointillism. Photographic grain (color and black and white) exhibits with the same principles.

Film’s inherent grain structure was a necessary part of the photographic image making from the the 19th through the 20th centuries. We accepted it and grew to love it, because it was the only option available. Slower films, which required brighter light, had less grain and more continuous tones; faster films, which could be shot in lower light situations had more grain and created a more pointillistic effect. We came to see grain as part of the art form. Larger, more prominent grain structures felt gritty and press like. They insinuated “documentary” and “reality”, while tighter, smother grain structures presented a cleaner, cleaner view of the world, so we saw them as more controlled. Landscape photographers and commercial photographers shot this way, so naturally the images were typically more perfect and therefore a little less believable than the gritty “documentary” style images with all that grain.

Originally, photographic emulsions were mixed in only one variety: the grainy, gritty kind. But, with the advancement of the science and the introduction of finer grain structures and faster emulsions, photographers began choosing film speeds, not just to deal with different lighting conditions, but also to create a different mood or feeling in their images. Selecting a 1600 ISO press film for a commercial fashion shoot was a choice specifically made by the photographer to suggest reality, documentary or art! Films were chosen based on their color bias and for their grain structures. Some photographers loved large grain, others loved fine grain. But grain was always a part of the photographic life and we all accepted its existence and learned to manipulate it to our advantage.

With the advent of digital photography as a viable photographic medium, photographers no longer had to accept grain. Unlike film, digital captures are made up of a grid of pixels, and those pixels are so close together that from one point of color or tone to the next there are no gaps. This means it is a truly continuous tone. Digital presented us with a grain-less option that was so clean and so flawless that the visual language began to change. Photographers expected more out or their image making tools and started seeing grain as a flaw in the image as opposed to a beautiful part of it and, to some degree, some clients have rejected that gain as well. Seurat would be agog at our negative reaction to grain in a continuous tone digital age. He went through great pains to create paintings completely out of this grain-like effect and here we come in 1010 thinking that grain is an eye sore? Strange indeed.
While it is great to know that I have the option for grain-less images, the fact still exists, that grain has a purpose in image making and when used well, enhances the photograph. But, one thing digital has not done well, in the past, is grain.

Our love affair with the cleanliness of the digital capture, only lasted in the lower ISOs of the camera. Digital cameras had a problem of color and luminance noise in the higher ISOs. I remember shooting with a Nikon D1x and then a Canon 10D. Both cameras were absolutely worthless at 800 ISO. Even if you could stand the blocky and offensive grain structure, the color noise was so atrocious, you could only keep the file if you were willing to turn it to black and white. Even just 3 years ago, when comparing film to digital, one would have to admit that while the digital capture did a better job at creating a continuous tone in the lower ISOs, films were far superior to digital in the higher ISOs with its beautiful grain structures. If a digital photographer wanted beautiful grain, he would have to shoot his image in a lower ISO and then digitally manipulate the image and render the gain into the image. This is no longer the case…

Recently, camera technology and image software technology together have reduced the color noise and randomized the grain structure in the higher ISOs to the point that a side by side film and digital grain comparison at 800, 1600, 3200 ISO will leave film in the dust for continuous tone and fine grain structure. Our little guess the ISO game proves this point. In a dimly lit room, the Canon 1D Mark IV can record details, brighter than the eye can see them, at a 100th of a second and yet the grain structure is tight and beautiful. It seems that with each new generation of cameras, film looses another unique feature. Beautiful grain in the higher ISOs is the just the latest.

I have never bought into the notion that grain is a negative thing. When I shot film, I loved the grain of 400 TMAX. I loved shooting with Fuji 1600 or Ilford 3200. Now, digital has matched the beauty of those grain structures without any heroic manipulations in photoshop. Say it with me again and again, “grain is beautiful!” And now, in digital we have every option before us: heavy grain, light grain or absolutely no grain. And we don’t even have to change film!

Thanks Canon!

And the ISO is…

So now, are you ready to know the ISO? 12,800 ISO. I am still astounded. The Mark IV, together with Adobe Lightroom’s standard noise reduction creates a beautiful, tight grain structure with no offending color noise whatsoever. You can not beat that. It this point, every ISO from 50-12,800 is usable in digital without a second thought.

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PS. Don’t get on me about Nikon v Canon, or Film v Digital. I’m not judging you if you shoot Nikon or Film. I used to shoot Nikon film cameras. To date, my favorite body I have ever shot with is a the Nikon F5. Film still has its place and still beats the pants off digital when there is no electrical outlets to charge your camera or when it comes to latitude of capture. I’m just talking about where we’ve been and how far we’ve come with respect to grain in photography. Think about it. We’ve come a long way.

Jared Platt

Platt Photography

This article was first published on the Pictage Blog on .

Remembering Bill Jay – Professor, Historian and Friend
Bill Jay being interviewed at his home in Mesa, Arizona by the BBC.

Bill Jay being interviewed at his home in Mesa, Arizona by the BBC.

I began by writing the title to my post here by writing “Remembering Bill Jay – Professor, Historian and Fiend“, accidentally missing the R on the keyboard, and as I moved the cursor back to correct the error, I laughed, because Bill Jay (if he has a blog feed of everything we are saying about him in the hereafter) would have laughed as well.  He would have quite readily taken the title of Fiend and run with it.  He was just the sort of self-depreciating, sarcastic humorist that could find a hearty laugh in any stinging insult one might thrust his way.  As I remember him today, I think of the twinkle in his eye that flashed as he smiled and chuckled warmly during almost every conversation I ever had with him and I am convinced that he chuckled again as I misspelled the word friend and instead called him a fiend!  But he might prefer a more embellished version of this title: Politically Incorrect British Fiend.

Bill Jay was my mentor and professor during my undergraduate and graduate years at Arizona State University.  I was among the very last of his students before he retired and I was privileged to be one of the very last to have him sit on my graduate thesis panel.  I took every class he taught, every semester, and when I wasn’t taking classes from him I was in his office listening to his stories about the great photographers of the past.  He had met, published work by and knew the sordid tales of more of the great photographer’s lives than most people will even read about in their life time.  And every time he spoke, I listened in wrapped attention.  In fact, I recall a semester where I did nothing but listen.  I think I completely stopped taking notes and just soaked in his ideas.

Bill Jay smoking a cigarette at his home.

Bill Jay smoking a cigarette at his home.

Bill was famous for his unconventional view of the history of photography and had a talent for pushing buttons across the world of art academia.  His lectures and articles were hard to swallow by the artist who surrounded him in the university faculty because his ideas were full of facts and historical documentation. He ridiculed the artist’s natural longing to create by accident and without method or schedule.  And discounted the irrational and emotional discussion of art without the grounding influence of history and perspective.

I will recall one article, in which he chided the art community for their hatred of advertising and reverence for art.  You know the argument… when an artist finally sells his work to be reproduced on a coffee mug, or a corporate advertising campaign, the other jealous artists who are still working at the ever so non-corporate Starbucks to pay their bills scoff and call him a “sell out”.

When I hear my colleagues pontificate on the purity of art versus the sordidness of advertising I have to wonder at their own grasp on reality. The boundary between art and advertising cannot be erected because there is no dividing line. This has always been true. Art, even so-called Fine Art, is no different in principle or spirit from advocacy. The chances are good that our ancient ancestors, like us, were equally complicitous in the selling/buying pact.

Recently I was reading a turgid tome speculating on the purpose of neolithic cavepaintings, in which the authors were blathering about magic, spiritualism, ritual, psychic connections, shamanistic practices, empathetic resonances, on and on. It seems to me more than likely that Og, hoping to be elected a tribal elder and so have his pick of the meat and women, is boasting of his prowess with spear and bravery on the hunt, and in an effort to sell himself hires Ugh to produce some visuals on the cave wall which when lit by the flickering flames of the fire look like television commercials.

-Bill Jay, Artist Rebells without a Cause

Bill discussing the selection process with photographer David Hurn.  David was a consistent figure that appeared into my life once or twice a year.  Hang around Bill enough and you were bound to see David Hurn.

Bill discussing the selection process with photographer David Hurn. David was a consistent figure that appeared into my life once or twice a year. Hang around Bill enough and you were bound to see David Hurn.

I listened to him discuss art from the rational viewpoint, its business, the political implications of it all and the light turned on inside of me.  Finally I was home in the art world.  I was raised by an artist and a lawyer.  My mother is a very talented art teacher, and my father is an intelligent hard working lawyer.  I am 50/50.  So I, like Bill, never really fit in among my artist colleagues.  I was far too rational to buy the gibberish that explained their unexplainable art work.  I knew I had a talent and an eye, but it was only when Bill spoke that I found a place in the world of the photographic arts.  There was actually a rational way to see art.  Yes, art is emotionally based and full of musical communications between souls, but it is also something that the rational human being can discuss, without developing a whole new circular vocabulary of catch phrases and hippie drug induced comma speak.
Bill ran the small but defiant Photo Studies program in the Photography wing of the School of Fine Arts at Arizona State University.  With a few exceptions, the powers of the Art School were hell bent on watching his program wither and die.  His little program consisted of four or five students who studied not just the act of photography, but learned how to research and write about the medium.  It was the goal of this program to create photographers and photo historians who could leave college with a useful set of skills, industry and academic contacts and the ability to earn a living in their chosen medium.  It was a “professional” program.  Translated for the artists: we were the “sell outs”.  So with Bill’s tutelage, our little photo studies program continued to defy, the conventional art culture.
It is funny indead to put it that way, most artists see themselves as defying culture, going against the grain, but in the end, they are falling right in line with their own art culture where everyone is just the same.  They must rebell to conform to the social norms of their peers.  Without the tattoo, the nose ring, a joint and full funeral black dress, they might stick out and look like a happy “normal” person, they might be too different from their crowd.

But in this crowd of artists, I and my fellow photo studies graduate students had found a less morose, and more intellectual home with Bill as our father figure, showing us how to step out on our own and do something truly unique in the art world, succeed.

Bill Jay being interviewed by the BBC.

Bill Jay being interviewed by the BBC.

For years after his retirement, I spent many mornings at his favorite diner having pancakes as he ate his eggs, bacon and hash browns talking with him about my latest efforts or listening to more stories about this photographer or that one.  He would encourage me to run with one project or another and I always thought, ‘I need to spend more time with Bill, record our conversations and document this man and everything he knows before he leaves us, because at the rate he salts his eggs, he can’t be around for much longer.’ Bill had already had a series of heart attacks, but he swore that life was only worth living if you could live it well.  And salt and eggs were part of life.

Soon though, he moved to San Diego for health reasons.  (Phoenix is to hot!)  And I recall meeting him at his apartment there several years ago, when I presented him with a small portfolio book of my wedding photography.  I suppose I presented it to him with the same eagerness my son presents his latest drawings to me.  I hoped that my “photographic father” would approve of the work I was accomplishing, even though I knew he probably wished that I had taken a more intellectual path, following in his historical footsteps.  But his response both shocked and thrilled me.

Perhaps it was that he had not seen the state of the wedding photography industry, but I like to think it was the work itself to which he was responding.  “Jared, this is the most amazing wedding photography I have ever seen.”  He continued to tell me how fantastic the images were and that it was great work, for it’s own sake, regardless of who’s wedding it was.  It was timeless work, he said, that would be important beyond the client’s spear, like portraits by Avedon or Penn (not that he was putting me on their level) that are important beyond their subject’s immediate use.  I was flattered and excited.  It was a confirmation that what I was attempting to create in wedding photography and portraiture was something more than images just for the clients who hire me, but images that would be important to anyone who saw them because of the visual and intellectual concepts in the photographs themselves: composition, emotion, shadows and highlights, movement, moments, metaphors, framing, lines, perspective…  Perhaps he was more complimentary than was warranted, but Bill was always genuine.

I learned something about myself that day, about where I tend to and should look for accolades.  It was his opinion of my photographs that meant more to me than anyone’s, more so than that of another photographer’s, even a master photographer, because it was his considered opinion that stood against changing fads and whims.  Because he knew the traditions, the movements and the alterations of the medium, he could see more clearly from a more objective vantage point.  It was the validation that my work might stand the test of time that I sought and received from him that day and no award that I can receive in this medium can match that small comment from one of the worlds most treasured photographic historians.

Bill Jay in California with one of his students.  Bill took us on extended networking field trips to meet people who may be helpful to our careers in the future.  But I think he also just liked being a tourist.

Bill Jay in California with one of his students. Bill took us on extended networking field trips to meet people who may be helpful to our careers in the future. But I think he also just liked being a tourist.

Unfortunately that may have been the last time I saw Bill.  We spoke on the phone on occasion, but he soon moved to Costa Rica, where I swore I would go as soon as I could to see him one last time.  I somehow knew that he would not be coming back and I missed the chance to see him again before he passed on.  I regret that missed opportunity, but his passing doesn’t bring me sorrow.  He wouldn’t approve of that anyway, sadness was not in his nature.  I have only once seen him with tears in his eyes, and that was for his youngest daughter as we discussed her challenges when she lost her leg in an accident.  But I think they might have been part sadness and part pride at her successes.  I rarely saw him without a smile on his face, or at least in his eyes.  I think that came from the furious curiosity that churned inside him.

He approached the opportunity to gain information with pure excitement and then to pass it on with even greater enthusiasm.  He used to tell me, “I have so much to get out into the world, I have plenty of papers in there that haven’t been submitted, just put your name one and get it out into the world.”  He wasn’t interested in the credit, just in getting the information out into the world for the benefit of the historical record.  I suppose I should have taken him up on that once or twice.

Perhaps the things I write and the lectures I give about photography are still his voice.  I found my voice through Bill Jay.  It was as though I had found my thoughts inside someone else head and as he spoke I recognized my own thoughts about photography and the world.  I don’t know what drew me to Bill, or why I rejected Law School to study with him.  Perhaps it was the intellectual and objective approach to the art.  Perhaps it was the historian.  Perhaps it was the sarcasm.  Perhaps it was the funny old englishman and his crazy stories.  Perhaps it was his rebellious spirit.  His independence.  His wisdom.  His beard.  But whatever it was, Bill Jay was my friend from the beginning  and soon became my guide and I hope as he reads his blog feed at St. Peter’s internet cafe’, that he has a good laugh as I call him a Politically Incorrect British Fiend.

Bill Jay and David Hurn.  This is Bill signature laugh/giggle that was to common in conversations with him.

Bill Jay and David Hurn. This is Bill's signature laugh that was common in conversations with him.