Saturday, June 23, 2007

Who inspired me?


When I travel and speak to other professional photographers, often Im asked "Who is your mentor?" or"Which photographer has made the biggest impression on you?" This is always a tough one because Ive studied with several of the nations best photographers.

Of course I am a portrait photographer. I could have chosen Advertising and commercial work, or Fashion, or Photojournalism.

When I was younger I thouoght I wanted to be a commercial photographer. I wanted to attend Brooks Institute. Its THE SCHOOL for professional photography. But after a year in regular college, i decided that the cost was out of my reach.

While in college at Texas Tech I decided I would be a photojournalist and work for newspapers and then work my way up to a national magazine, such as NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC. I loved to travel and thought this would be a very good fit for me. I worked for a Central Texas newspaper and the pace of constanly working day to day seeing tragedy, hanging out of airplanes and the constant deadlines taught me that I didnt really want that type of work for the rest of my life. Even though I loved it for a year, longer than that would of been too much for me. (Seeing people die in house fires and children was so sad.)

So after talking to the counselor at Texas Tech, I decided to become a Portrait Photographer. (even though the pay is much more for comercial photographers working in advertising.)
The small town I grew up in had a great photographer, Master Photographer Bill Weaks. He had a command of lighting that I had never seen before. He literally bathed his subjects in a beautiful light that reminded me of the great Master painters. Seargent, and Rembrandt.

I knew this is what I was destined for.

One of the very first photographers I had the opportunity to study with was fellow Texan Clay Blackmore.

Clay is a portrait and wedding photographer up near Washington DC. (in Virginia)

He worked for many years with the late great Monte Zucker. When I studied with Clay, it was like the male version of myself! I could finish his sentences and he mine! It was a natural click! Clay is a really versitile photographer and can work fast and in any situation. And talk about a comand of light.

He really knows his lighting.

I bumped into Clay on the streets of San Antonio earlier this year.
Clay was out in the ice storm photographing San Antonio on an ice cold day. (remeber the ice storm in January?)

I was out photographing wiht my Itallian photographer friend Luigi. Luigi had flown from Italy to stay at our home for 2 weeks and attend the convention with me. Not too many people were actually out in the cold that day.

There was Clay on the street! What amazed me is that he knew my name even though it had been 10 years since I had seen him!

He remembered a lot about me! WOW, talk about a personalble person.

He loved my pink hat and pink gloves I was wearing that day and being CLAY, He asked me to pose! He immediately started taking images of me, He traded cameeras with me and had me hold his camera for a few and took some images with my camera so i could have some images on my flash card. He chatted with me for a while and met Luigi.

Even though Clay has photographed the Ultra Famous, Including Larry King and so many celebrities, he is still a down to earth photographer. He has a way of making you feel special.

So if you want to know who one of my inspiration photographers are I would have to say Clay Blackmore. I remember when he crtitiqued my wedding images. I held my breath as he turned each page. He was very kind, but pointed out some minor things in lighting and posing, that I have never forgotten.

Hes a special person and a wonderful photographer. Always smiling and always happy to be photographing. I hope he isnt too lost without Monte, his mentor.

He invited me to attend a wedding with him, he said "Fly up anytime and Watch the sparks fly!!!" That was just a few months ago. I might take him up on it. Thanks Clay for being one of my heros. That 6 day workshop taught me so much.

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