To all the ships at sea, the following will be a chapter in my new book. And as far as a title for this chapter, the working title is Richard Drew Super Star. Subtitle; a great talent with a very small ego. In 1976, I had the pleasure of working as a pool photographer for the Canadian Olympic Association. One evening I was assigned to shoot a soccer game (never shot soccer in my life). It was extremely dark and extremely cold of the middle fo the summer, and torrential rain, and I met Associated Press photographer Richard Drew. It appeared we were the only two photographers shooting this soccer match (or maybe it’s just my memory). The first indication you’re with someone with great talent and a great attitude is Richard brings a new meaning to laid back. He’s calm, he’s cool, never breaks a sweat, and appears to be 100% in control all the time. I immediately liked him. He was a direct contradiction to some of the super stars at the Olympic Games who let you know that they’re shit doesn’t stink. And they’re the best of the best so get the hell out of my way peon. If I’m not mistaken Richard Richard suggested that we shoot in the area sheltered by the unfinished oval stadium opening, rather than in the rain on the pitch while shooting this soccer game. The other thing I learned about Richard that night was that he was a minimalistic shooter. No five cameras and five lenses with two assistants, two cameras, two lenses, and the end product (photograph) was always on the money, it always told a story, it was honest, it was sincere, and it put the viewer at that soccer game that night. That’s my first run-in with Richard Drew, remember its 1976. Just for the record, in those days we were limited to 36 exposures, extremely slow motor drives, no auto focus, many of the hot shots would shoot a zillion frames looking for that one photo. Drew, couple of rolls of film, again a minimalistic shooter, but he always got the photograph.
I can’t write this chapter without mentioning another great photographer. And a super star. And yes, great talent and a small ego. Bill Eppridge. Bill was not only a friend of mine, he also one of my heroes. Extremely dynamic at the same time extremely laid back. Always in control, always calm, and always got the photo. In 1968 while Bill was working for “Life” magazine he made the iconic photograph of Bobby Kennedy as he lay on the kitchen floor taking his last breath. I’m going to regress for a moment, I’ve heard a lot of general comments, you’ve gotta be in the right place at the right time. The old f-8 and be there. My guess is, if you took 100 photographers in that situation, there would be a large percentage of them that would freeze or lose it, or close their eyes. The last time I saw Bill was 2013 at his one man show in Connecticut, which was stunning, magnificent, and great. Unfortunately he passed away in November of 2013. While writing a blog on Bill I discovered that my dear friend Richard Drew not only was there at the Ambassador Hotel but he also made an iconic photo which at the time did not get the same amount of play as Bill’s photo did. I didn’t know this until 2013. Hell, it was only 45 years late. He was working for the Pasadena Independent Star-News then.
Oh my god, I’m all over the place.! On September 11, I was in the middle of a 7-mile run about a half a mile from my home. When an automobile pulled up and the gentleman said “ plane just hit the World Trade Center” I immediately thought of a single engine plane that made a mistake and ran into the World Trade Center. By the time I got home I turned on CBS in time to see the second plane hit. It was pretty obvious this was a terrorist attack. I looked into my studio and my camera bag was packed, I took a two-minute shower, got dressed , walked over to the bag, looked back at the TV, and made a decision. By the time I drove 74 miles I wasn’t going to get anywhere close to the World Trade Center. WE all my brothers and sisters, lost 3,000 people that day. One of which was an extremely good friend of mine, and another who I spent several days with diving. Both were firefighters for the NYFD. At the time, Terry Farrell and Douglas Miller. A few days after September 11, I realized that my friend Richard Drew was there and he made some amazing photos, but that’s all I knew. Why? Because Richard never blows his own horn, he never waves a flag to tell you how great he is. That’s where the amazing talent is only helped by his small ego.
Yesterday, I was in an extremely bad mood. As a matter of fact, I was in a shitty mood. I normally wait until 6 o’clock to have a cocktail but I decided to make a very strong gin and tonic at 4:30 and I scrolled on the TV. Something caught my eye called the “Falling Man”. I had no idea what it was about. I hit the button, I sat back, took a sip on my drink, and there was Richard Drew and one of the most amazing photos that I have never ever seen. It actually took my breath away. I put the drink down and I was just blown away by the image. I’m not a big email guy and it was a Sunday, I sent an email to Richard and said “love you, Joe D”. I got an email back from his lovely wife Molly wanting to know what it was all about. I said I’ll tell you tomorrow. Hey Molly, it’s now tomorrow. Richard Drew is a great husband, a great father, a great photographer, and one of the kindest beautiful people I’ve ever met. Did I mention He won the Pulitzer Prize for another photo? The only thing small about Mr Drew is small ego, super laid back. We all should go to school by Mr Drew and maybe we will turn out to be better people and better photographers.