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

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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

Fun Photography

Fun photography. Fun photography.

To all the ships at sea,

What have we forgotten?  When did we forget it?  Why did we forget it?  When did photography become so important?  When did photography become fingernails on a chalkboard?  When did it become so critical that we start to tear people apart for no particular reason?  I think it’s time to go backwards, and when we go backwards, we’ll actually go forwards, and we’ll go forwards quite a bit.  I’ve been making photographs for quite a while… and exactly why did I get started in photography?  Ask yourself that question, why did you get started?  I was on a New York set for Lights Out, sitting with some great, great, great photographers;  Kenny Regan from Camera 5, Johnny Iacono from Sports Illustrated, and Al Bello from HBO.  We started to talk about photography and we all kind of giggled and laughed.  We wanted to change the world?  No.. We wanted to show the importance of an image?  No… We wanted to tear down the establishment and build up independent thought?  No…  We wanted to meet girls?  Yep, that’s the reason.  My God we were in our teens, of coarse we wanted to meet girls.  The reality is, we wanted to have fun.  Sometimes we forget why we do things.  I’ve been with the same girl for a long time, so I don’t need to meet girls anymore, but what I really need to do is have fun.  That’s really what it’s all about; and to be quite honest, I think I’ve forgotten it.  I’ve made a promise to myself, I’ve had some of the greatest teachers in the world.  They’ve given me so much to be grateful for.  I need to take all of those tools for the balance I have left on this planet and incorporate it into having fun.  The reality is I’m not going to change the world.  A journalist asked Bob Dylan if he feel like he changed the world with the songs, and did he realize how important his lyrics were.  Dylan looked at the writer and said, “Hey man, I just play music, I play music and I’m not trying to change anything, I’m trying to have fun.”  So if Bob Dylan didn’t change the world, I probably won’t change the world either, so let’s concentrate on having fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wave© Joe DiMaggio

©JoeDiMaggio

Ice Spikes ©Joe DiMaggio 6942 copy

©JoeDiMaggio

 

Waterfall Snow Ice 9498 RB

©JoeDiMaggio

 

Lovable Lew, a Magnificent Jew

Hi to all the Ships at Sea,

One of my friends is a great internationally known photographer by the name of Lew Long, or Lovable Lew.  He started his career in NYC and ended up with a Rolls Royce in England. He worked for every major advertising company in the US and Europe. I remember one of his great ads of a TWA pilot inspecting an engine on a rainy day. It was brilliant. He’s now based in Miami and still generating great photographs. He’s begun to delve into videography. He has a great friend, who was a major player at McCann-Erickson, by the name of Greg Birbil. He was born in Coney Island, doesn’t get better than that, especially if you love Nathans. I’m going to reblog some of his blogs because they are just great and I would like to share them with my friends…that’s you…if you didn’t know. Follow his full blog here: An Ad Man in Greece

While in college I worked for the post office at Christmas time delivering mail. This was pre Internet and it was snail mail, especially at Christmas time, tons of it. Two to three weeks of helping the regular mailman. It was my first government job; my second was the Army a few years later. Before I go any further, I have to explain something; as a kid growing up in Coney Island, dogs were not part of my life as they are now. Through my wife and kids, all dog lovers, I have become pretty much a dog person. In an immigrant neighborhood where I was raised, nobody had pets, certainly no dogs, maybe a cat for mice if you had a store. Dogs were scary; think of the expression “junk yard dogs.”
I delivered mail in Brooklyn, but a Brooklyn different from Coney Island. I delivered mail in a neighborhood that had single and double family houses. These houses had front yards with fences around them and they had dogs; big noisy, snarling, vicious, rabid dogs, between me and the mail box, which was usually on the porch. Perhaps the regular mailman knew each dog personally…but not me, to me they were “junk yard dogs.” All dogs were supposed to be dangerous. There was only one way to deliver the mail, after all, the mail must get through, even though it was only Christmas cards and life magazines and ads. I opened the gates and the dogs ran out, free and happy I guess. I could deliver my load of mail. I have created a whole neighborhood of released happy dogs involved with each other, probably mating and making more dogs for next years Christmas help.
I am not proud of this crappy thing I did, I would like to personally apologize to my daughter Chris (she is a great dog lover, check her blog, thelifeofcaptainchip.blogspot.gr.) I remember arriving at a house, no yard, and no dog. I start to put some mail in the brass slot at the bottom of the door and I am ambushed by a dog on the inside, he grabs my fingers and I try to pull my hand out and the mail slot closes on my fingers cutting them. Freezing weather, bleeding fingers and the dog is on the inside proudly barking away. How do I get me revenge on this beast, it actually might have been a tiny poodle, but to me he was a snarling Ridgeback; I get a life magazine out of my bag, I have no idea if they even subscribed. I put the magazine in the slot until the dog gets a hold of it. I then pull him into the door and then ram the magazine in…hoping to skewer him; I must have missed because he continued barking and probably making fun of me, giving me the “paw.”
Aside from the cold and the dogs, delivering Christmas mail was OK, meeting for coffee and killing time so we could go out on a second run and drag it into heavy overtime. I now know all dogs are not “junk yard dogs’” at least the ones I have in my yard aren’t.
All the Best,
Joe D