Third Greatest Indy 500 Photographs in the last 100 Years

S.I. Indy Third Greatest Photograph in 100 yearsR

© Joe DiMaggio All Rights Reserved

Most photographers spend the majority of their time building their photographic reputation for decades. Occasionally the sun, the moon and the stars are in perfect alignment and a photographer will come up with their definitive photograph that particular day. Like many things in my career, I’ve had some amazing mentors who taught me the ins and outs of a venue like the Indianapolis 500 Raceway- Rex Miller, Jim Arnett, Jim Schweiker, Chuck Robinson, Ron Thompson… to name a few. On this particular day, I was on assignment for Sports Illustrated. I had a game plan, photographing the start from the crow’s nest. At the end of twenty laps, I ran down to turn one where I “accidentally” cut a small hole in the fence (I do not recommend this), shot another thirty laps, then worked my way around to turn three and then into the pits. I started from the last pit and worked up to the first; halfway back the gasoline alley, I climbed the pagoda to shoot the finish. It was the closest finish in the history of the Indianapolis 500 up to 1982. I had a great assistant- Rex Miller’s, son Geoff Miller. A little bit of luck? Lots of practice, lots of preproduction. Know your spot, know your focal length, know your exposure. Don’t freeze, make your photo, get on the learjet and bring it back to New York. This is another short excerpt from my memoirs, not the whole story. To all the ships at sea, great shooting and have a wonderful day. Joe D.

Not Dark Yet

To all the ships at sea,

Everybody knows I’m 29 years old… thank god math is not my forte.  Saw Dylan in the day, he was great then, and he’s still great.  Here’s a lyric that just blows me away, it just fits 20515, “Sometimes my burden seems more than I can bear.  It’s not dark yet, but it’s getting there.  I was born here and I’ll die here against my will.  I know it looks like I’m moving, but I’m standing still.”

©Joe DiMaggio

©Joe DiMaggio

You May Not Believe in God


©Joe DiMaggio

©Joe DiMaggio

I consider myself extremely lucky, and without plagiarizing Lou Gehrig, I’m one of the luckiest people in the world.  I’ve received 3 doctorate degrees over my years of traveling this blue marble they call the Earth.  Another reason I consider myself very lucky is I have great friends.  The majority of them are either scientists or artists, but all of them, to a man and a woman, are considerably smarter than I am.  It’s a good thing to have highly intelligent friends because I never stop learning.  What the hell does this have to do with God?  When you look at a lion in the middle of the jungle, and you look into the lion’s eyes, it’s one of the most amazing visions you’ll ever see.  The lion will look back at you, and you will feel terror, fear, love, and respect at the same time.   But the majesty, the beauty, the strength, is off the charts.  The lion didn’t get the name “King of the Beasts” because it was a flea.  I would like to share with you a few photographs.

Under normal circumstances, I would try not to judge my fellow man.  But I’m going to make an exception on this low life piece of s*** who chose to wound a beautiful animal, and then take a half a day to kill it.  If I could get my hands on him, I’d put an arrow to his thigh close to his groin, and watch him take a day to die.  God forgive me for a bad thought.  In case anybody hasn’t figured it out, we are killing this planet.  Everyday, we’re killing this planet.  There’s an old cliche, people who live in glass houses should not throw rocks, so in the interest of being open and above board, there was a period of time in the 70’s that I would fish for large game fish.  Every ounce of those fish were eaten and nothing went to waste.  The only reason that this even happened is because I was filming for Sports Illustrated, HBO, Discovery Channel, etc., etc., etc..  99.9% of every fish I caught was tagged and released.  For the record today, if I go fishing, I fish with a camera only.

©Joe DiMaggio

©JoAnne Kalish

©Joe DiMaggio

©Joe DiMaggio

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A Cole Miner’s Daughter… No, that’s not right



While working on an add campaign for a Fortune 500 company, I did an environmental portrait of an American Indian, and they loved it, rapidly followed by an American Cowboy.  We then broke things up by doing a photograph of the Empire State Building on a very cold, rainy, foggy night, which yielded a fine image.  The creative director at Saatchi came back and wanted to change it up, and he wanted me to do a photo of an American laborer.  After two weeks I submitted three photos, he didn’t like any of them.  The following week, I submitted three more, he liked those even less.  I became extremely frustrated.  Any assignment photographer will tell you they would rather have a AD and CD with a firm story board (with approval of the end client) with very little leeway on the initial concept, but a lot of leeway on how you stylize a photograph.  It’s called a compromise.  We got in a, shall we say, small argument.  I was very frustrated, and decided was that what I needed to go was some serious manual labor, which in my opinion, is extremely healthy.  It will also stop you from getting arrested for attempted assault and battery.  Being dedicated to your art form is one thing, but doing hard time?  Unacceptable.  Stepped into the studio, looked at a full length mirror, readjusted my Dynalites, asked my best  female friend, JoAnne Kalish, if she would be kind enough to make a photograph…  client loved it.  Is there a moral to this story?  When — is not working — change it up.  If you want to see the complete story without any restrictions or censorship, in six months you can pick up my new book on visual literacy.

To all the ships at sea, grab a camera and a shovel, go have a ball.  It’s all good.


Ace could win Westminister, or maybe Belmont… I don’t know which one.

©Joe Di Maggio

©Joe Di Maggio

Like most photographers, when I’m feeling a little rusty, especially with my hand eye coordination (that really shouldn’t happen if your 25 years old right?), or if  just want to check out a new camera or new lens, I’ll take my best friend (my best male friend), Ace… my puppalupus.  He’s so much fun to be around, and to be honest with you, he makes one hell of a great model, especially when he makes eye contact.  I think what he’s saying is, “Joe I love you,” “Joe, if you get a hoop and set it on fire, I’ll jump through that.”  How many of our friends would do that?

To all the ships at sea, when you’re feeling a little rusty, go out and rent a puppy, steal a cat, or go to the zoo.

Have a great day.

©Joe Di Maggio

©Joe Di Maggio


©Joe Di Maggio

©Joe Di Maggio

A Great Voyage

©Joe DiMaggio

©Joe DiMaggio

One of the greatest advantages of being a working photographer is the travel.  I’ve been blessed and lucky to literally travel around the world more than once.  When you travel, you meet people, and 90% of the time, the people you meet are unbelievably fabulous.  In 1984, I had he privilege of being one of the pool photographers for the Olympics in Los Angeles.  It allowed me to meet up with many of my old friends from SI and work with George Long, John Iacono, John Zimmerman, and the list goes on.



Hi Joe,

I miss Gary, too.

I’d buy the book, but I have to sell about 20 photos to pay for it!!

Take care and stay well,


I met an extremely bright and creative (at that time he was assisting) photographer by the name of Alan Levenson.  Suffices to say, Alan when onto an unbelievable career in photography, and he’s now one of my favorite portrait photographers.  His environmental/corporate portraits are great.  Alan was kind enough the other day to purchase one of our new books, “Halloween.”  I will attach his email to the bottom of this blog.  Alan lived through the last part of the Golden Age of photography.  His words are to the point and unfortunately, quite true.  But who knows.  In moving ahead in the digital world at light speed, we, as a group of photographers, may transcend time and in going forward, we may go backwards.  Now, if that sounds like I’ve been drinking in the afternoon… I haven’t.  As a matter of fact, to all the ships at sea, I’ve decided to put the alcohol down for six months to a year.  Well… like Lloyd Bridges said in Airplane, “Looks like I picked a bad week to quit amphetamines.”

Alan Levenson Webpage


©Alan Levenson

©Alan Levenson

©Alan Levenson

©Alan Levenson

Pat, We’ll Always Love You!



To All the Ships at Sea,

There was a great man by the name of Pat Napolitano.  Patty was one of my oldest and

dearest friends and a person that was very important in my life.  On many

occasions, I’ve mentioned that I’m the luckiest man in the world. I have a

great family, great friends, and a great life partner I call Sunshine.  Most

of these people have been with me, most of my life. They’ve supported me and

helped me to be a better person.

When God made Pat he literally threw away the mold.  He was one of the

strongest, bravest, and true friends God put on this earth.  At the ripe old

age of 15, five people tried to kill me. They had me on the ground kicking

me in the face and chest and delicate parts of my body.  A total stranger

came along and literally pulled them off, one at a time and saved my life.

The bottom line is, if he did not help me, I wouldn’t be around today.  It’s

been many, many years ago and we’ve been friends ever since. This was the

foundation for a very long friendship.


Ralph and Pat ©Joe DiMaggioWe’d all gather at Pat’s home 10-15 of us and we’d work on our cars, have a

We’d all gather at Pat’s home 10-15 of us and we’d work on our cars, have a

party and play poker. It was a beautiful time. The Napolitano family had a

curse. They all seemed to have genetic heart disease.  Pat’s dad passed away

at 55 of a heart attack, then his mom, then his older brother Ralph.

You should not be surprised that Pat was the Captain of the Football Team as

well as Captain of the Wrestling Team.  In those days we played both offense

and defense. He was an amazing physical specimen and extremely intelligent.

Patty had an interesting way of motivating people especially someone like me

who was considerably weaker, smaller, and not nearly as brave.  One day

somebody for no particular reason, called me a “Diego Wop”, and called me

out for a street fight. One of our teachers broke it up. and as truth be

known, I did everything I could to avoid it, because I was frightened.  I

managed to avoid this gentleman and I use the term lightly, for two to three

days.  One night after a movie Pat brought me to the back alley of the movie

house in the parking lot.  He had arranged for this person to be there so

the fight could happen.  I still had my doubts and fears but Pat made it

simple. He grabbed my shoulder and pulled me nose to nose, looked into my

eyes and simply said you have a choice Joe D, you can fight him or me the

choice is yours. The fight lasted maybe 40 seconds, I beat him because Pat

taught me you may be afraid but failure is never an option. On the football

field and on the wrestling mat he was an animal but once he left he was a

mild mannered sweet person.  He had a slight birth defect which made him

deaf in one ear. He talked low, slow and cautiously.  They called us the

“Shy Ones”  Andy Boy Saccone, Richie Walsh, Lew Staudenbauer, Teddie Milito,

Jerry Riggerio, Ronnie Valerio, Frank Alagna, Pete Picciano, Bobby Wein, Ray Williamson, Al

Bukowski, Tommy Halinar, Bob Hoffman, Ralph Brandofino, Bob Piracci, and Joe

DiMaggio.  I hope I did not forget anyone of the guys.


Pocono Raceway ©Joe DiMaggio

Something happened in March of this year, exactly what it was, I don’t know

but it was very serious. It was the beginning of my friend Pat’s highly

specialized dementia.  As soon as I found out how serious this was, I got

into my automobile and drove to see my friend at Stony Brook University

Hospital. I spent about 3 1/2 hours with him and helped feed him.  He did

not recognize me.  I prayed for a miracle and prayed that God would come

down from the heavens and save him and his life would go on and it would be

good and complete.  My friend Patty had a great wife and two great children.

Pat had another close friend who was the third Musketeer by the name of

Ralph.Commack Titans 1386

Ralph, flew in from Fort Lauderdale.  I picked him up and we went to the

hospital together and visited Pat for 4.5 hours.  It was obvious then that

things were not getting better.  Pat wasn’t shaved in weeks so we asked the

nurse for a shaving kit and she brought us an electric razor.  We shaved our

friend and took turns holding his hand. While I was holding Pat’s hand I

could feel the strength oozing out of his body.  It was a strange feeling.

I had a funny feeling he was not going to be with us much longer.

At the end of our visit with Pat,  I changed my prayer.  Before we left,

Ralph kissed him on the right of his forehead I kissed the left.  At the end

of my last visit I change my prayer that God will take him quickly so he

wouldn’t suffer anymore. God answered my prayer but it didn’t make me feel

happy. I don’t believe in the word closure. I loved him the day I met him, I

love him every day of all the years I’ve known him.  I will always love Pat.

At the wake which was one day and only four hours, there were at least 400

people possibly more that came to pay their respect.  They came from all

over the United States. In all the years I knew Pat, I never heard one bad

word. One of the things I almost forgot to mention was his great sense of

humor.  One day coming back from Manhattan, he asked me for a light for his

cigarette.  He was driving his 1957 Chevrolet and I was sitting shotgun.  I

passed him my zippo lighter.  He lit the cigarette and threw the lighter out

the window. About 30 minutes later he asked me for another light. I pressed

the cigarette lighter in the car, he lit the cigarette and threw that out

the window. At the time I did not think it was funny but looking back at it

I find it hysterical.

I could write a book on what a great friend and helluva person he

was. Pat I will always love you.  To All The Ships At Sea – I pray you have

a great friend like Pat Napolitano



Pat, Joe, and Ralph


Napolitano Collage 6621larger

Gerry Cooney

To all the ships at sea,

As the line goes, “Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?”  Well, the short answer to that is, as my friend Willy Nelson would say is, “On the road again.”  Haven’t had any time to do any blogging, tweeting, or social media, and if I did have time for that, I was probably having a martini, and once I have a martini, I don’t feel like blogging.  Guess what… I haven’t had a martini yet today.  Let me share one of my old friends with you.  Gentleman Gerry Cooney, the number one heavy weight champion a few years back. He’s not only one of the sweetest men God put on this Earth, but his love of his fellow man and especially children is amazing.  He’s dedicated himself to YCS which is an organization that takes care of the children that have been neglected by everybody.  They’re success rate is totally astounding.   Great people going great work, and making great children into great men and women.  It’s truly a beautiful thing.  If we all lived our lives that way, this truly would be a paradise.

Each day YCS cares for approximately 1,500 children, by providing either residential care or in-community and in-home services. Some of the children are separated from their loved ones and have been affected by trauma, others are unable to live at home because of intellectual and developmental disabilities that adversely affect their behavior. Whatever the child’s special education, mental health or behavioral health needs, the caring YCS staff is prepared to offer individualized services to both the child and family. With your support, we can help our children find hope, and cultivate strength and resilience for a brighter future.




Cooney and Kalish, getting ready to rumble.

The Greatest Things in Life are Free

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It never ceases to amaze me the greatest things in life are free.  A little tiny pat on the back, a smile, an acknowledgment that you’re doing well.  But the advent in the digital world, many free things are forgotten.  I was pleasantly surprised when I received a visit from Peter Poremba, the CEO of Dyn-alite, his beautiful wife, and his equally beautiful, charming daughter Olivia.  I’ve know Olivia since she was born.  She’s amazingly beautiful and bright.  She made this get well card for me, which is out being framed as we speak.  Olivia, thank you so much.  Peter and Conni, you done good!  A few snaps of Olivia taken approximately seven years ago, and her puppy Harley.


























Chinese New Year Photo Walk

Come join us on our trip to Chinatown for the Chinese New Year Parade on Sunday, Febuary 22, 2015.

Chinese New Year© Kalish9416 copy Chinese New Year© Kalish 9546 copy _G0A3884 _G0A3879 _G0A3871 _G0A3831 _G0A3797 _G0A3723 _G0A3681