Photographer and Nice Guy Shelly Katz

Photographer Shelly Katz

To All the Ships at Sea,

Approximately 4 months ago, my friend Sam called me and told me that an old friend Shelly Katz was not feeling well.  I called Shelly and we spoke for about a half hour. I sent him several photos of the Apollo Soyuz launch with all the guys from TIME Magazine.  I followed up with a couple more photos and wished him a Happy Birthday.  Unfortunately, last Friday Shelly went to the Darkroom in the Sky or actually maybe it’s a the Lightroom in the Sky!  Just for the record both JoAnne and I had the utmost respect for Shelly as a very fine photographer. Shelly, also had something else going for him,  everybody loved him.  In a profession that is ego driven Shelly had the goods and treated everybody equally.  At a time when male photographers did not give credence to female photographers he did.  Below is a beautiful letter from  long time good friend Sam Garcia.  Who every said Sam was a hard ass?  Was it me?  Maybe I was wrong.

“I hadn’t talked to Shelly in a couple of years.

It just goes like that sometimes, even when you like someone.

You can’t beat yourself up about it, but you’re going to a little bit anyway.
Couple of months ago a friend had a photo/home accident—they came back from a trip to find a pipe had burst directly over where they stored some of their work in their garage. Images and negatives literally sitting in water.
They called me; I told them what I thought was the best course of action to save/retrieve what was salvageable.
Then, because I don’t know know nearly enough about everything as I want to, I decided to double check what I’d told her by talking to another shooter with deep knowledge about a lot of stuff in the industry.
My first thought was Shelly.
And I was irritated to realize I didn’t have his number at hand it had been so long.
Called a mutual friend who gave it to me.
I called the number, said, basically,  “Hey, Shelly!, want to talk to you more, but will call you back because I’ve got a photo-emergency you might be able to help me with.”
Told him what I knew. What I’d suggested. He offered a couple of additional things.
I drove out and spent the afternoon trying to help my distraught friend save her memories.
(mixed results, but less overall disaster than she had feared.)
In one of the FEW responsible adult/mature moments of my Life, I called Shelly back in a couple of days to thank him for the help. Also, to actually talk about how he’d been, and swap those fill-in-the-blank stories you do with someone when you haven’t kept in touch as often as you’d have liked.
I got the sense he was under the weather health wise. But he was talking about his upcoming 75th birthday, and how well his son was doing, and we both bitched about the state of the industry we both liked probably more than it liked us.
Shelly’s background was certainly professional. Worked under the Time-Life umbrella for a few decades. Was represented in it’s glory days by the late great Black Star agency.
I had met him for the first time when I was traveling with the Nikon School.
We were both in the ‘Day In The Life’ book projects family as photographers.
That was back in…, September…?
I’m sitting at the table this morning, finishing up Xmas cards and thinking about lunch. I look over at one of the multitudinous piles of notes on various scraps of paper and see the one I’d scrawled Shelly’s name and number on.
I hadn’t wished him a happy 75th birthday.
I’d frankly, simply forgotten.
But I picked up the phone to see how he was doing pre-holiday.
But his son, Andrew answered the phone.
It’s not a genius thing to catch that tone in a voice which has only said ‘hello’
.
Shelly had died Friday.
I stumbled through my condolences as one does in that terrible moment, but you keep moving forward even when you’re uncomfortable because it’s not about you, and even if his son is a grown man, he just lost his dad.
I told him what I knew to be true–Shelly was one of the nicer guys I’d met in the industry over the years.
He was smart, and funny, and friendly, and really liked the business, even on those days when it beat him up a bit.
I kept it short, but as bad as I am at this stuff I stayed on, I hope, long enough to let him know other people liked and respected his dad, and the World was going to be a little less kind, a little less fun without Shelly in it.
His son asked me if I would mind letting people know.
So this is me doing that.
Right now he’s at Shelly’s home and answering that phone, but he also asked me to pass along his number if anyone wants to call.
Shelly’s number (in Texas)  972-247-0700
his son Andrew’s number, if you don’t get him at the above: 214-458-4858
I feel bad. I could’a, would’a, should’ a…fill in the blanks.
So I’ll try and do better. I think Shelly would accept that as the only apology worth giving.
Over the years I have come to believe the single worst lie you have heard via literature, and oft quoted, and oft repeated is the famous, ‘no man is an island‘.
It’s simply wrong.
Every single person is an island, and can slip away, slip beneath even calm waters in a moment, in a heartbeat.
 
But I do agree with John Donne a bit further into that piece, that, “Any man’s death diminishes me.”
I should have called him far more recently, and without the excuse to pick his brain, simply because I liked him. And I feel badly. And I’ll try and do better.
And the best thing I can offer Shelly’s spirit is with any luck you’re thinking of some ‘island’ you’ve been out of touch with, and maybe you’ll call them or write them.”  – Sam Garcia

*Article in the New York Times by John Camera Section on Shelly Katz by John Durniak (freelance writer, editor and photography consultant.)

www.nytimes.com/1991/07/21/news/camera.html

 

A signed copy of Joe’s Book FILL THE FRAME is $20 plus $4 shipping 

Dr. Jeffrey Liegner vs God

To All the Ships at Sea,
     I had an epiphany the other night after driving 160 miles round trip to photograph a boxing assignment.  What I found out was that highways have exit and speed limit signs and was totally taken back by this!  A friend mentioned they’ve been there all along but you could have fooled me!
     I’ve probably mentioned before that I don’t particularly like smart phones, however,  like them or not,  they are here to stay.  I no longer use my car GPS because it’s not up to date, so I have been using my IPhone. Up until recently,  I was unable to really see the directions on my IPhone very well.  So how do I account for my improved eyesight all of a sudden? This all came to be,  thanks to a friend recommending eye Doctor Jeffery Liegner, a specialist in corrective eye surgery to me, telling me how truly great he was.  I have to agree Dr. Liegner is truly an amazing guy and a true visionary.  He came up with new protocols for eye surgery including eye drops that are put in the eye during the surgery and not needed afterwards (also a great savings.)  I had cataract surgery in my shooting eye,  and my vision has gone from 20 /400 and progressively worsening to now seeing better than 20/20 both day and night.  Before my surgery Dr. Liegner told me I’d see colors, depth and sharpness like I’ve never seen before.  I now understand what he was saying.  He also gave me vision in my left eye which I had not had since I was a young child! That eye was virtually blind (or so I was previously told.) I am absolutely freaked out by the contrast, detail, and color I now see!  It is so truly amazing!  I take my Beret off to this very special Doctor.  I also found out Doctor Liegner, donates a good amount of time helping the underprivileged as well.  When I return from my trip to S. America, I plan on making a documentary on Doctor Liegner and shooting an in-depth picture story on him because I find it important I do that. I truly am a lucky man!
     An additional note, Dr. Liegner is an active Pilot and is in the process of building his own plane.  I’ve included one of several photos of Andrew Wright in a F-22 Raptor from the NY Airshow.  Also a couple photos from one of the fights I shot that evening.

©Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

GREAT DAY TONS OF FUN!

 

PhotoPlus at Jacob Javits Center

DynaLite’s Peter Poremba


To All the Ships at Sea –

Yes, I’m late with this blog… the last few days have been a little crazy.  Let me extend a thank you to my dear friend Peter Poremba, for hosting me at the DynaLite booth at Photo Plus.  It’s a little known fact that Peter is a great administrator, and the ultimate source of studio/location lighting. Yes that’s him in the tutu.  As the truth be known, it was actually my Tutu but since  I gained some weight the tutu no longer fits me. So, Peter agreed to put the tutu on to help promote my book FILL THE FRAME!  I would like to thank all my friends who came by to say hello and all the new people who stopped by to purchase my book.  By the way, the new battery operated Baja is very sweet and shoots TTL.  Like I always say DynaLite is the best lighting equipment ounce for ounce, pound for pound, dollar for dollar.  Not a commercial a fact!

“Recalling His Adventures as a Working Photographer from the 60’s to present day. The book describes his career working for publications such as SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, TIME MAGAZINE, HBO, rapidly followed by a brilliant career in Corporate and Advertising.  It’s also about how photography has evolved over the years.”

FILL THE FRAME goes into detail about the many people he has photographed – celebrities, sports figures as well as so many others and his experiences working with them, and the stories behind the photographs.
Book is $20 plus $4 shipping. You can pay by check, paypal or credit card (through Paypal.)  

Front Cover FILL THE FRAME

Alan Kaplan vs Peter B. Kaplan

© Joe DiMaggio

To All the Ships at Sea,

For whatever reason photographers rarely get together and socialize with each other.  Wow, what a shame that is.  Alan Kaplan, an internationally known photographer has been our neighbor for about 15 years. Only recently did we get together to break bread.  I’m only sorry we didn’t do this sooner. Alan’s wife Wendy is an international producer of films and a world class model.  Everybody knows my partner JoAnne and as Bill Shatner would say “also one of the finest photographers in the United States.”  Our lunch was wonderful as well as the conversation. Alan is one of the few intellectual photographers.  He’s not a button pusher he puts a whole lot of thought into his photography and his place on the planet.  Wendy is diametrically opposite – she’s a very quiet woman of few words, totally laid back, with no particular positions on politics, the human condition, or most matters.  NOT!  Wendy is very outspoken and dynamic. Don’t get on her bad side because she’s a tough broad which is a good thing!  Alan’s studio was one floor apart from my friend Peter B. Kaplan’s -another world class photographer and also was next to the artist who put the capital © in copyright but that’s separate blog.  That evening the four of us continued onto Malibu ranch to photograph a rodeo and had a great time which was   followed by a late night dinner at the Fauchére.  It doesn’t get better than that.

In a month or so Alan will be having a show on Ethiopia at Lenox Hill Hospital.

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

 

A Great Friend Don Nelson

 

To all the Ships at Sea-

  • 2017 has not been the greatest year for many of my friends. It’s been a great year for me but not so good for them!  My dear friend Don Nelson, one of the most powerful, beautiful human beings, with a awesome sense of humor has gone to the great darkroom in the sky, making a short detour  to Grandfather mountain where he helped thousands of photographers over the years.  He’s joined his beautiful wife Christine , and they are now traveling together into infinity.  A quick story about Don, back in the 80’s it was not uncommon for him to pop in and out of the White House.  One day he popped in giving the press secretary Larry Speakes an acorn asking him to give it to the old man.  Larry said, it just an acorn.  Don told him to crack it on the desktop (in those days desktops were made out of oak not glass.)  He cracked it and out popped a condom.  He laughed and said the old man is on his way to Andrew’s and inquired how many more he had.  Don gave him maybe 6 or 7.  Don headed back to Virginia  & maybe thirty minutes later he got a phone call from Air force One. In those days car phones looked like house phones.  A woman asked if he’d accept a call from the President of the United States. Of course Don said yes. Ronald Reagon got on the line laughing so hard and asked Don if he could get him a couple dozen so he could send them out to his friends?  Don I loved you then and I love you now.  I will come visit you at Grandfather Mountain.  Live, Love, Laugh and Be Happy.  Life is great!

Don & President Reagan in Limo

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.

Michael

Mike Phililps forblog copy

© Joe DiMaggio

To all the ships at sea,

“Oh no, here he goes again repeating himself.” Guys, I really try not to do that, it just seems to work out. This world is moving at light speed. One of my closest friends, Mike Philips,unfortunately passed away 10 years ago and I never saw this obituary (found below) on Mike. JoAnne found it on the web and sent it to me. Michael was an unbelievably great photographer. He had one of the most amazing studios on Cedar Alley – it had to be 12,00 square feet. I had a small room by the elevator (it was designed to bring up a car), down the block from Tommy’s. I really loved that S.O.B. Above my desk are two photos of Michael. He knows why they are there, and I know why they are there, but I’m not telling. Attached is a couple of photos; the last photo is one that I think Michael would have really loved. By the way, I never title photos but this one is titled Mike 47.

Mike Phillips & Maggie 050 copy mike phil 1

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

“Mike Phillips

January 13, 2006 in Photographers Remembered

A key technical advisor for Nikon Professional Services, died at his San Francisco home on January 9, 2006 . He was 60 years old. His body was found by a NPS worker at his home after failing to appear at the booth for Nikon at the annual Apple MacWorld Conference. It was reported that he had some health issues for the past several years.

He spent his entire professional career with Nikon, starting with the company in 1970. In addition to acting as liaison between Nikon and professional photographers, he was often asked by Nikon to shoot major events such as the Olympics, World Series, Super Bowls, Kentucky Derbies, Cape Canaveral launches and many more. He helped hundreds of photographers in both camera and lens equipment loaners and technical assistance. He also had a vast knowledge of every generation of Nikon cameras as well as digital photography information.

Mike was a long-time major supporter of the San Francisco Bay Area Press Photographers Association. He was instrumental in getting Nikon to donate a Nikon camera as the award for the Greg Robinson Memorial Student Photographer of the Year Award since its inception. He also was responsible for the donation of thousands of dollars of Nikon ware for door prizes at various SFBAPPA events as well as sponsoring numerous luncheons. Mike was also a speaker at every annual SFBAPPA Digital Workshop.

A native of San Francisco, he attended college at U.C. Davis and San Jose State University. He is survived by his mother, Marie Phillips Japs of Davis; his sister Suzanne Finigan of San Francisco; his brother Kirk Phillips and nephew Collin, both of Northern California.

There will be no formal service planned at this time. A wake is pending. At his request, any memorial contributions may be made to a charity of your choice.

San Francisco Chronicle contributed to this story.” 

© Joe DiMaggio

© Joe DiMaggio

Will Barnet: One Hundred and Five (I Wish)

Will Barnet Artist © JoAnne Kalish 576e

© JoAnne Kalish and self portrait Will Barnet

My partner, Joanne Kalish, received an assignment to do a portrait of Will Barnet. The first two sittings were canceled by Will. When JoAnne questioned the artist, he confided in her that he was not comfortable. Most great photographers know everything about shutter speed, aperture, sharpness- all of the things that are not that important in a photograph. JoAnne has the ability to make a total stranger comfortable and gets the best of the best.

They say the third time’s the charm. Will asked that there be no lighting, per se, and no assistant, pomp or ceremony. JoAnne went to Barnet’s studio armed with just one camera and two lenses and came away with the definitive greatest photograph that had ever been taken of Will Barnet. How do I know that? Will Barnet told JoAnne six months after the photo was taken that this was his all time favorite photo and the best photo ever taken of him. He’s not only been photographed by thousands of photographers but also at least fifty of the best photographers in the world.

Today would have been his 105th birthday. No photographer likes to take a backseat to another photographer. I love the photo so much that I actually purchased one from JoAnne and it hangs above my desk. We also now have a framed 40×60 called “Will Barnet at 100” that came from the National Academy Museum and School. Over the years, I’ve collected eight or nine pieces of Will Barnet’s art.

imgres

JoAnne introduced me to Will and we had lunch and dinner together a few times. I have to say, he was one of the most amazing people that God put on this planet. At lunch one day we started to talk politics- not a good subject. I said, “What we need now is a new WPA (Works Project Administration)” and Will sipped his tea and said, “What a good idea, I headed the WPA as applicable to imagery.” I was sitting with a man who was at the forefront of the WPA.

WPA-USA-Sign

To all the ships at sea, I’d like to end this blog. One of the biggest thrills of my life was when Will Barnet looked at my portfolio. He looked at me and said, “You are not a photographer, you are a painter.” That will be one of the things I will always remember when I check into the darkroom in the sky.

Artist Will Barnet & Photographer JoAnne Kalish

Artist Will Barnet and Photographer JoAnne Kalish ©DiMaggio

 

Melchior the Great

Melchior DiGiacomo has had an extremely amazing career, it would be fair to say that he’s one of the finest tennis/sports photographers in the United States.  Some of his black & white work is amazing.  He’s a great street photographer and has the ability to make a fine photographs in some of the most adverse conditions.

 

 

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©???

The Junior Tennis Foundation (JTF) will recognize four integral members of the tennis community on Friday, April 24, 2015 at 7 p.m. during the 28th Annual Eastern Tennis Hall of Fame celebration at the Beach Point Club in Mamaroneck, N.Y.

Mel DiGiacomo has been a staple at the US Open for the last 44 years. Whether it is down on the court, in the stands or directly alongside the players, DiGiacomo is there with his camera in hand. In addition to the US Open, DiGiacomo has traveled the world to photograph a variety of sports and events.

The North Bergen, N.J. native currently lives in Harrington Park, N.J., where he has proudly resided for the last 40 years. 

“It’s remarkable that Harrington Park, a 4,800 person town, has two residents in the Eastern Tennis Hall of Fame,” DiGiacomo said. “Neil Amdur, the former sports editor for The New York Times and me.”

DiGiacomo began his career at CBS as an usher and worked his way up to production supervisor for “60 Minutes.” After working for CBS for ten years, he decided to become a photographer when he was 27 years old.  

“My friend photographed my semi-pro football practices on the weekends and I always made fun of his photos,” DiGiacomo said. “One day, he joked ‘if you’re so good, get a camera,’ so I bought one, put it together and told him that’s what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.”

A year later, DiGiacomo moved to England to photograph rugby, then moved back to the United States and photographed hockey at Madison Square Garden. 

“A publisher hired me to make a hockey book,” DiGiacomo said. “Gene Scott, founder of Tennis Week magazine, saw it and wanted the same thing, only for tennis.”

DiGiacomo didn’t play tennis and, at the time, had never seen a tennis match. As someone who was familiar photographing football, DiGiacomo began shooting tennis matches with a football lens. The different lens gave him a new perspective to the game, which made him take photos in a way no one else did.

“In those days, you could get close to the players,” DiGiacomo said. “I used to shoot everything in black and white and in a very photo-journalistic style, which was another thing people hadn’t been doing.”

DiGiacomo’s photos have been featured in several publications including, Sports Illustrated, Tennis Magazine, Newsweek and Life Magazine. His new style of shooting and vivacious personality greatly influenced his fellow photographers.

“He’s a wonderful person to be around because he is so friendly,” Bob Litwin, a close friend of DiGiacomo’s said. “Even with really famous people he becomes a friend, not just a photographer.”

Throughout DiGiacomo’s time at the Virginia Slims Circuit and US Open he interacted with several professional players, writers and fans including Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Jimmy Connors, Arthur Ashe, Martina Navratilova and Mary Carillo. 

Outside of sports, DiGiacomo photographed a number of weddings, specifically tennis weddings. The first wedding he shot was Jeanie Brinkman’s, the director of the Virginia Slims Circuit. 

“I didn’t think too much of it,” DiGiacomo said. “Then, 20 years later, I was asked to shoot Jimmy Connors’ manager Karen Scott’s wedding, and more stemmed from there.”

Pam Shriver, a former professional player, Richard Evans, a longtime tennis writer and Gene Scott each requested DiGiacomo for their big day. 

DiGiacomo values all of his work, but is most proud of the impact he has made in Antigua photographing the tennis tournament at Curtain Bluff. In his first year shooting there, he noticed the ball boys and girls had bare feet, so he followed them home to their village, Old Road. 

“I ended up doing a book that had nothing to do with tennis, but also had everything to do with tennis,” DiGiacomo said. “I was down there for tennis, but I went into the village to document their stories.”

The proceeds from DiGiacomo’s photographs go into the “Old Road Fund” to benefit the children in the village. When the fund earns enough money, it goes toward helping the children attend college. 

DiGiacomo has always supported tennis and the people he has met through tennis. He raised both of his children to become tennis players because he values being part of the tennis community and enjoys that tennis is a sport his kids, who are now adults, can play for years to come.    

“I owe a lot to tennis because it changed my life,” DiGiacomo said. “It has given me so much, my family too.”

mel-martina_navratilova

©???

Joel Kleiner

Joel Kleiner, there’s a word for Joel in Italian.  It’s called mensch.  Joel’s been with me on over a dozen photo safaris.  He’s an absolute sweetheart, and a very accomplished photographer.  On our last trip to Cuba, he took his lovely bride Susan, and we all had a great time.  Joel tagged me on Facebook, so now I guess i’m “it.”  Be careful Joel… I’m going to have to tag you back.  Photogrphy is an awful lot of fun.  I think I’ve learned not to take myself all that serious.  Life is good, it’s all good, take it one day at a time.  Thank you Joel.

Joe D.

 

©JoelKleiner

©JoelKleiner