January 18th: Somebody’s Birthday

© Sam Garcia

To all the ships at sea,

As I’ve told you many times, I’m the luckiest guy in the world. 95% of all my friends are artists, photographers, blues and jazzmen, writers, poets, sculptors, boxers, and occasionally a copyright attorney. I’ve had a very long friendship with Sam Garcia. As a matter of fact, it goes back six decades. Well, we know that’s impossible because I’m only 29 years old… so obviously, I’ve misspoken. Sam, a very fine photographer, sometimes tends to continuously remind me of things. Maybe he feels that he has a responsibility to me. Hell, maybe that’s a good thing. The photo in the blog is a candid shot of Jay Maisel, copy written by Sam Garcia. I’m pretty sure that everybody who reads this blog knows who Jay is- one of the finest photographers in the last six or seven decades. And today, he’s 39 years old. Well Jay, wishing you one hell of a great birthday. Give Sam a hug and a squeeze for me.

Zero Degrees or %@*!!$ Cold!

© Joe DiMaggio

To all the ships at sea,

If you’re anywhere near the East coast, you’ll know that it was beautiful. Then it got cold, then brutally cold, and then the ice came. Well last spring I packaged up all of my winter garb and I put it someplace. Did I write it down in the computer? No. Did i put a label on it? no. Did I put it in the same place? No. I found it, but I found it very, very late. In photography, I’ll tell you “standardization and simplification” – simple, clean, elegant. Also, repeatability. You should be able to go to your insurance shot and as soon as that’s done you should be able to throw caution to the wind and be able to do some crazy fun stuff. Oh yeah you’ve gotta have fun with it. Its all about fun and hopefully generating a new image, or maybe new just for you. New hasn’t been done in 40 years. So when it comes to protecting the cameras, we do that. Or I do it. Make sure they’re all in the trunk so that they’re all the same temp as outside. Tripods, the same thing. Clothes, the same thing. Three, four, five layers. Headgear, eargear, nosegear and gloves. Well, I couldn’t find my stuff so I borrowed some of JoAnne’s scarves and stuff. Not good. The lesson is pretty simple. Repeatability- put it in the same damn place all the time and if you think you’re gonna meed it in January then get it ready in September. Attached are a few photos… yes, I found my stuff. Want to know where it was? The last place I looked! It’s always in the last place I look, think about it.

© Joe DiMaggio; words by Sam Garcia. Where are the two right gloves?

Everybody knows that I’m a Canon photographer, so I very rarely get specific about a camera and a lens. In this particular case I’m going to talk a little but about it, I took out my Canon 5D Mark IV, the 100-400 zoom, a relatively midrange Gitzo carbon fiber tripod, two batteries and two extra cards. That’s it, nothing else other than my trusty cell phone. When climbing on the ice, you really want to have a cell phone with you. What I forgot was that the night before I had a house guest and that he plugged his phone into my charger. Where am I going with this? Well, you know where I’m going with this. It starts to snow and it snows very heavily. I’m not paying attention, I’m just shooting. I’m not making excuses, I’m just explaining. I looked down and the camera was covered in a beautiful coating of white snow and the lens had white snow. It was kind of a pretty picture. Then I looked down to see my itsy bitsy camera bag covered in snow. I reached into my pocket to take a photograph with my iPhone and up popped a thermometer saying “aint gonna happen fella, you dont got enough juice.” It’s one of those snapshots that I have in my brain but not in my other camera- get it? My other camera? I believe an iPhone is a phone, not a camera… other people, not so much. Again, preproduction is the key to a successful shoot. This includes gloves, mittens, scarves, batteries and yes, a cell phone- if I had fallen,  I would  have needed that phone for more than just taking a snapshot of the snow falling down on the camera and  the lens. Don’t leave anything to chance. Remember- Murphy is sitting on a rock waiting for you.

Hope to see you on the road again,

Joe D.

© Joe DiMaggio

 

Young Pup

© Joe DiMaggio

To all the ships at sea,

Back in the day I coined the phrase, “Standardization and simplification,” when it came to photography. Another phrase I coined was, “Shoot it when you see it, because you’ll never go back to photograph it again.” Everything I say is my opinion, not fact- I get it. I was on a Sports Illustrated assignment to photograph the largest white shark that was going to be caught on rod and reel- 3427 pounds (hadn’t been caught yet but they had been fighting it off the coast of Montauk). I had just left a TIME Magazine assignment when a phone call came that told me to go to Montauk. I changed my clothes, my photographic gear, got my foul weather gear and left for the 70 mile drive where I would meet a fishing boat to take me the balance of the 30 miles to get to the fish. Ten minutes after leaving, I realized I left two electronic flash in my darkroom. When it hit me, I lifted my right foot and went to hit the break and said, “No ____ way!” but I kept going. Did I need the flash? Yeah, I think so. Pushed the film anyway, made the photo, and it ran in TIME and accidentally in Newsweek- not my fault. Also the DailyNews and Newsweek. I think somebody syndicated it.

Yesterday, I had a very special appointment in Manhattan. I canceled a shoot to make this appointment. Right before I got to Route 80, I saw a magnificent sunset. (You know what, they’re all magnificent. But this one was special.) I looked to the left, was going 70 mph, looked straight ahead and knew it would be gone in five minutes. I looked and found that there was a turn off for an exit. I hit the brakes, made the turn off, went two blocks and wound up in the parking lot of a bar. No photo. Drove down a very narrow road of very expensive homes; the photo was still up and running but too many trees and homes were in the way. Went another mile down the road, found an opening, got out jumped over a 1 foot fence that said “No trespassing.” I recalibrated the ISO and started to shoot before the first dog came out barking, followed by the second dog barking and doors opening. I went back to car and said, “I knew this was a bad idea..” Drove some more, saw an opening for a PRIVATE YACHT CLUB ENTRY MEMBERS ONLY, but made believe that I didn’t see the sign. I drove another two or three football fields down to the end of this beautiful lake and there was my sunset, waiting for Joe DiMaggio. Also waiting for Joe DiMaggio was a police officer in a shiny new SUV. Did I have my seatbelt on? No. Was it shining? Yes. I made an executive photographic decision and drove past him like I was a member. Got out, recalibrated the ISO and made the photo. First time going back fora photo. Was it worth it? I think so. Maybe old dogs can learn new tricks… woof, woof, woof. Ice photos were thrown in, shot it the day before. Video to follow.

Joe D.

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

 

RIP Photographer Howard Bingham by Joe DiMaggio

To All the Ships at Sea,

© Kenneth Lambert, AP

I’d like to share a story. My son Dylan came home from school from 4th grade class with a unusual request. He asked that I get Muhammad Ali to call all the kids in his class.  I told him that would not be easy.  He said please, “I’d like you to do this.” I called my good friend Bert Sugar – “Mr. Boxing”  and the “Bertster” tried to reach out to Ali, but was unable to connect.  He said, “Joe on a conference call we will phone Howard Bingham” (Ali’s photographer.)  I had met Howard a few times but we were not close friends.  We spoke to Howard and he said he’d see what he could do. He asked me, what time and on what phone number?”  I told him approximately 1:05 on Thursday afternoon & gave him the number. I figured there was a very slim chance of this happening.  I was told the call went through the speakers and sure enough It was Muhammad Ali talking to all the kids in Dylan’s grade class.

There are very few people and this goes for Bert Sugar, Howard Bingham and Muhammad Ali that would extend themselves for a bunch of kids.  I’m blessed knowing people like this.  I might add, it is mainly due to people I’ve met through photography.  Bert Sugar died on my birthday a few years ago, Muhammad Ali died this year and now Howard Bingham died December 15 this year.  I casually mentioned this story to my friend Sam Garcia and he insisted I do a blog on Howard, which I was going to do anyway.  He said you can tell your people from me, that Howard was one of the sweetest most self effacing people he had ever met.  He always remembered everyones’ name, was a genuinely sweet individual, and one hell of a great photographer.

We’ll have a 10 count tonight for Howard.  Attached you will find a short video I did in Cuba a few weeks ago at Kid Chocolate Gym.  https://vimeo.com/193916645

© Joe DiMaggio All Rights Reserved

© Joe DiMaggio

Sam by © Sam Garcia

 

Life Is Good, Life Is Great- For God’s Sake, Smile and Enjoy It!

israel-simon-joe-dimaggio4056

Simon Jacob © Joe DiMaggio

To all the ships at sea,

It seems like when the world gets together between December 24th and January 2nd, friends and family come together on many different levels. It’s a time for remembrance and love; it’s a time to celebrate, a time to party and a time to forget differences; it’s a time to be warm and fuzzy. Then again, some people are warm and fuzzy 365 days a year- you know who you are!  Anybody who’s read any of my blogs or tweets knows that I’m the luckiest guy in the world.  Approximately three decades ago,  my brother Amir Orly from Israel introduced me to a young man by the name of Simon Jacob. Simon Jacob basically adopted me as a part of his family. Simon has one of the most magnificent families I have ever seen: great mother and father, great brothers, great cousins, and great children, of which there are many. One day, Simon and I were out photographing aircraft along with his very young son Shimshon; Simon asked if we could stop for 15 minutes to pray with his son. Of course, the answer was yes. That’s how long I’ve known him, I watched him grow up.

About 7 months ago, I visited Simon. Shimshon is now a full grown man and a rabbi who lives in Israel. He showed me the outline he had for his institute for very special kids who would come from all over the world to study with him, and I was so taken with it that I volunteered to teach for two weeks at the institute as soon as it was up and running. I would love to have the ability to write a substantial check but giving my time is a better fit for me at this time (although I have made a financial contribution to the institute). A few weeks ago, he sent me a letter addressed to “Uncle” Joe. I was so flattered that he called me “Uncle” Joe, and I am an uncle to him. It put such a smile on my face that he made my pre-holiday season.

In all the years that I have been on this planet, I have never asked anybody to do something like this. This is a personal email to everybody, it’s not just a form letter. I’d like everybody to take a look at the institute, watch the short GoFundMe video below, and please make a donation if you are comfortable doing so.  Any amount is fine. To tell you the truth, I think it will make you feel really good at a time of year when we want to feel really good about everything.

https://www.gofundme.com/kemach-institute-scholarships?ssid=853400738&pos=1

This is Joe DiMaggio wishing you a healthy, happy, warm holiday season. Remember to live, love, laugh, be happy and smile. Life is good, life is great.

Joe D.

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

israel-dimaggio-227

© Joe DiMaggio

israel-children-playing-joanne-kalish-3388cr

© JoAnne Kalish

israel-joe-dimaggio-5648c

© Joe DiMaggio

israel-joe-dimaggio4368

© Joe DiMaggio

You Thought You Were Out and then They Pulled You Back in Again

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

We had an extremely successful holiday workshop in NYC. Everyone had a great time, it doesn’t get better than that. As we were strolling to Saint Patrick’s Cathedral we ran into a few demonstrators in front of Trump Tower. Under normal circumstances I would be very wordy right about now, but unfortunately I just had an old visit from our old friend Murphy. yeah, Murphy stopped by and fried my iMac so I’m working on JoAnne’s laptop which is a little uncomfortable so I am going to wish you a very merry Christmas, happy New Year, happy Kwanzaa, happy Chanukah. Happy, happy, happy! Live, love, laugh and be happy. Oops! And don’t forget, smile. It’s like the flu- it’s contagious! Did I say that?

Holiday Time in NYC

© Joe DiMaggio

Holiday Time in NYC

© Joe DiMaggio

Holiday Time in NYC

© Joe DiMaggio

Holiday Time in NYC

© Joe DiMaggio

Holiday Time in NYC

© Joe DiMaggio

Holiday Time in NYC

© Joe DiMaggio

Holiday Time in NYC

© Joe DiMaggio

 

Winter Fun

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

To all the ships at sea,

What I strongly recommend at this time of year is an ice breaker. We are rapidly coming up on the winter solstice and the temperature at the falls drops to five below zero at night. It makes for some very beautiful ice designs. Please remember to keep your camera and lenses in an extremely cool place before you take them out in very cold weather when photographing in the wintertime. I recommend transporting the camera and lenses in the trunk of your car, especially if you are driving any distance. This is because you don’t want to know what will happen when your camera transitions from the seventy-eight degree interior of your car to near-freezing temperatures. You won’t need a fog filter, that’s for sure! Common sense is a great ingredient when making a photograph.

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

House Call in Old Havana

doctor-visit-7848-copy

© JoAnne Kalish

To all the ships at sea,

I know you’re going to find this hard to believe but Murphy even travels to Cuba! As a matter of fact, Murphy has a pretty much free reign in Cuba -one little slip on a cobblestone pothole and I went down like a ton of bricks. No big deal, I know how to fall… well, I did something to my back. When I went back to our pencion (B&B), our host family turned me on to some local doctors and, believe it or not, they made a house call. Not one, but two- a doctor and a technician. They came in with a tens unit, the typical doctor’s bag, and went through a whole protocol on trying to piece me back together again. Yes, there was ice then there was heat then a fabulous massage. We ran that tens unit on 220, it was really great. The interesting part about it was that the doctor was President Obama! Now I know you may find that hard to believe, the president of the U.S. stopped by my room to make sure I was okay. They pieced me up so I could finish my shoot in Old Havana but more importantly, it was just the way that they went out of their way to make sure that I was okay. Not to be outdone, on return to Miami and then to Boca Raton, I had a fabulous doctor in the ER at Boca West at 11 o’clock in the evening. A five hour wait was cut down to 20 minutes, then they gave me an epidural and prescription medicine for my back with a recommendation for acupuncture and a massage. I had the greatest massage I had ever had from a Taiwanese master masseuse and then the acupuncture was unbelievable. Everybody came together to piece Humpty Dumpy back together again… oops that’s not my name! It’s Dumpty Humpy….no, I think its Joe DiMaggio. It’s surprising what service you can get with a white beard, man when these people find out I’m 28 years old they’ll be angry! Medicine from Cuba, to Miami, to Boca, to New York- it’s all good. It’s actually all great!

A Communist State Moving Towards A New Beginning

havana-cuba-6383-e

© Joe DiMaggio

One of the most exciting experiences we had on this trip to Cuba was watching the new entrepreneurial fever that you see in all aspects of Cuban life. We visited the first privately owned restaurant in Havana circa 1995. We met the beautiful owner, some of her children and all of her staff. Granted, they still have ties to the government but all of our businesses in the United States have ties, rules and regulations. The next morning, after leaving Kid Chocolate, we came across the very first government bakery in Old Havana. It was an amazing sight to be seen. The interesting part is that they sell out every day- every roll, every piece of bread is always sold out and then they start again for the next day. You have to love and respect the work ethic of the Cuban people.

havana-cuba-6185-e

© Joe DiMaggio

All cuban people make the same amount of money, whether you’re a doctor, a lawyer, a truck driver or an English teacher- that is $28 a month. Yes the education is free, yes the medical is free, yes there are equal food rations. In many ways, to a certain majority of people, that’s a very good thing. We as Americans have a difficult time understanding that. It’s not uncommon for a doctor to moonlight as a taxi driver or a guide and they can make that $28 in a day, which again does not seem like a lot of money to us but it is. It is a windfall for the Cuban people.

havana-cuba-6888-e

© Joe DiMaggio

We also went to a small bar on the corner of the square- the service was great, the drinks were great, and the coffee was great. When asked how long they were open, they were proud to say that they opened in late August of 2016. Again, keep in mind that this is the beginning of capitalism. It is privately owned, sanctioned by the Cuban government, but the key is that it is privately owned and they can openly market their product by word of mouth. They put a tremendous amount of effort into their product. Entrepreneurs are looking to the future, and who do they emulate more than anyone else? Americans. I would be remiss to say (remember, no talk politics!) they’re very concerned about the changes that will happen after January 20th, 2017. I hope that the change in the government will not drive these people back 60+ years. All you can do is hope.

havana-cuba-6883-e

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

Cuba VIP???

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

Both my partner JoAnne Kalish and myself have put together the most fantastic VIP trip to Cuba ever. It was the best of the best and totally upscale across the board; the best part is that we brought it in for an extremely reasonable price. Actually, it was not a penny more than the regular trip. Now, that’s the good news. The absolute not so good news is the fact that two of our group members had multi million dollar business in Europe. The husband of another husband and wife team in our group had to go in for surgery. Last but not least, one of my long term friends had some serious concern about her father’s health. JoAnne and I made an executive decision to postpone the VIP trip to late April/early May of early 2017. When I went to JoAnne and said, “Let’s go to Cuba anyway, just the two of us,” she thought I was crazy. Anybody who knows me, however, knows that I am certifiably crazy and that it just goes with the territory. I called my very dear friend Malia Everette from Altruvistas and explained my situation. Malia is not only a brilliant businessperson but also a world traveler that has been to Cuba dozens of times. (Malia has some family there.) On the fly, she came up with one or two suggestions, one of which was to take advantage of a new B&B. She also lent us her driver and a beautiful young lady by the name of Cece who Malia calls my boss in Cuba. I have to tell you, with all the times I’ve been to Cuba, I’ve stayed in some of the best places, including the Nacional and Cohiba. This was definitively the best trip we ever had. It’s exactly the way JoAnne and I traveled from day one. When you stay with a family and you eat with a family and you listen to their advice, all of a sudden you go from a traveler to a member of the community, even if it’s only for a week or so. We were thirty feet off of Plaza Vieja, one of the most beautiful squares in Old Havana. By the last day, people were shouting at JoAnne and myself because they knew us; they weren’t looking for money, they just enjoyed our company. My agent in California always reminds me to ”never use the terms ‘in the old days’, ‘back in the day’, or ‘this is the way we did it in the beginning'” Well I’m not going to use any of these cliches. What I am going to say is that this was one hell of a great way to travel. This was first class all the way. Our hosts were Josefa Clemente Hernandez, Weneslao Ortiz Andres, and Jelena Ortiz Clemente. The father, Weneslao, was born in the same village and lived in the same mountains as Fidel and his wife, Josefa, was not only beautiful but extremely warm especially when there were a few minor problems. When I took a nasty fall and threw out my back, she made sure that I was well taken care of and that ice was available at night to soothe my aching body. Breakfast was also out of this world- every suggestion they made was spot on. JoAnne and I will continue with our trips to Cuba (presuming that the new government will continue with leaving the door open to one of the most beautiful islands in the world, not to mention some of the most beautiful and educated people in the Spanish speaking world.) 

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

If this blog seems a little painful, that is because it is. It seems that my back has developed into a full blown case of sciatica. I’ve never had a child, but my guess is this pain is worse than childbirth times ten. So, if I’m not hitting on all cylinders, forgive me. I will follow this blog up with three more. Consider this part one.

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

Hope to see you on the road again soon. By the way, we will incorporate everything we learned on this trip on our next VIP trip and there’s no doubt in my mind my sophisticated group will absolutely love it. 

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio