On the Job: Teaching (and Learning)



Whenever I teach, as I’m doing this summer in a short class on action photography at The Image Flow in Mill Valley, I find two things to be the most challenging: Explaining to others what I do instinctively in a way they understand and not knowing what the students don’t know.

Blurred runner at Blackie's Pasture in TiburonThe first forces me to think in granular terms about what I do with the camera — and why. For example, one student asked me why I usually use ISO 400 as my base setting when most digital cameras have ISO settings lower than that. Well, I answered, somewhat lamely, it’s because I grew up on Tri-X, Kodak’s legendary  black-and-white film. It had an ASA of 400 and my earliest lessons about light and manual exposure were learned using that number as a base — and those lessons still work today. In other words, it’s a habit, albeit one that serves me well.

The second challenge is more difficult. What each student knows about photography in general and the intricacies of their own camera in particular varies widely.

Most, not surprisingly, came to photography in the digital age and with cameras so advanced and so automatic  that they skipped the need to studdy the basics of photography, so they have a poor understanding of the connections between light and exposure, between shutter speed and aperture, and between focal length and depth of field.

They all have inexpensive lenses that in a short twist of the barrel leap rom wide-angle to telephoto, so they’ve never had to master the physical art of moving through a scene with prime lenses in order to change the point of view or to get closer to or farther from a subject.

Because of these gaps, each time I attempt to explain something more advanced, such as capturing the fleetness of a runner with a pan or freezing the motion of boy on bike in a half-pipe, it opens the door to a more basic discussion about the principles behind the technique and where to find the buttons and dials on a particular brand of camera in order to get the technical stuff right.

For this reason, I learn along with my students. I learn about my own habits (good and bad), I learn how different types of cameras work (even their Nikons don’t function as mine does) and, most importantly, I learn I need patience in order to succeed — and that’s a lesson that applies to photography as well as teaching.

On the Job: The Stand-in

Nate Seltenrich, Oakland writer, inside Terrapin Crossroads

Hey, Tim, I’m often asked, what’s the secret to killer lighting? (Really, it happens all the time).

They’re thinking I’m going to say expensive Swedish strobes (got ’em) or compact, go-anywhere Nikon speedlights (got those, too) or even a hand-painted, Avedonish backdrop like Annie uses (don’t have that).

John Truong, photographer, in front of the Lark Theater

Wrong. Wrong. And wronger.

What I tell them is this: The secret to killer lighting is a stand-in — someone to be in front of the camera while you fiddle with the power or feather the softbox or pile sandbags on the stands because you’re doing an outdoor shoot in gale-force winds.

Sometimes the stand-in can be an assistant, someone you’re actually paying, such as photographer John Truong, left, posing with the Lark Theater behind him in preparation for a shot of the movie-house’s owner (here’s the final shot).

Other times the stand-in might be a writer you’re on assignment with, such as Nate Seltenrich of Oakland, above, who occupied the velvet couch for me inside Terrapin Crossroads in San Rafael while we waited for Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh and his wife, Jill. (Writers are generally less thrilled about standing in than assistants.)

Oftentimes, the stand-in might be a somewhat reluctant PR person (whom I won’t show for fear of losing future favor) or and even more reluctant spouse (ditto).

Who the stand-in is really doesn’t matter as long as they have the patience to hang in there until you get the lighting just right — that is, killer — so when the actual subject shows up (often someone with no patience whatsoever) you can make his or her picture straight off just like the professional you are.

 

On the Job: Bernice Baeza: 1943-2012

Bernice Baeza, photographed in April 2011 outside the Lark Theater in Larkspur for Marin Magazine.

Bernice Baeza was sticky, meaning you only had to meet her for a few minutes, like I did, and she’d stick in your mind for long time.

At least that’s how she was for me. I photographed Bernice in April 2011 outside the Lark Theater in Larkspur for Marin Magazine. The magazine was writing about her successful resurrection of the moribund movie-house into a thriving community center that not only showed first-run and classic movies, but filled its seats with Oscar parties, simulcasts of opera and London theater and a long list of other events. When we met, she had just undertaken a similar project with a shuttered movie theater in Novato.

Bernice died on July 21, of lung cancer, the paper said. Nothing could have surprised me more. Was she sick when I made this photograph? She certainly didn’t seem so — although a disease as relentlessly deadly as lung cancer surely had to have been at work in the background then.

My first impression of her on the April evening was how un-Marin she was. The way she stood, solid and occupying her ground. The way she spoke, gently but directly. The way she dressed, dark even on this warm Spring night. All said New York, not Marin.

We chatted as I fussed with the lights and waited for the sky to darken so I could get the colorful neon of the Lark just right in the background, and I learned she was indeed a New Yorker. I told her a story about incident in my misspent youth when I rolled a car on the thruway near her birthplace of Nyack. She smiled knowingly and I thought we had a bond.

But maybe not. Maybe that’s just how she made everyone feel, welcome and worthy. Whatever it was, she stuck. I wish I had known her better. (Her family is maintaining her Facebook page.)

The Hollyhocks

Hollyhocks, Dan Jewett, Yuri Jewett, Kristin Sobditch, Jason Silverio

One of the treats of working with Marin Magazine has been meeting Dan Jewett (right), who by day is the magazine’s managing editor and the rest of his time is the guitarist for The Hollyhocks, an Oakland indy band that also includes Dan’s wife, Yuri (bass, vocals), Jason Silverio (drums) and Kristin Sobditch (guitar, vocals).

The Hollyhocks new CD, Understories, came out this week and tonight it officially debuts at the Makeout Room in San Francisco. Critics are loving the CD, as they should. It’s bright, it’s smart and it rocks — just like the people who made it.

I had the opportunity to photograph The Hollyhocks a couple of times, including once in Dan and Yuri’s home as they were working on some of their new songs, and again for a group shot of the band. For the latter, we fence-hopped onto Caltrans land beneath a freeway maze in Oakland. The picture above came from that session.

I love photographing musicians, in part because I get caught up in the emotion of their music, but also, truthfully, because doing so enables me, a man who couldn’t carry a wounded tune to a hospital, to vicariously share the stage with them. (See my new Music section in my portfolio.)

The gallery below has  more of my photos of The Hollyhocks. Take a look.

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On the Job: San Rafael Pacifics

Bud E. Luv sings the national anthem at Opening Day for the San Rafael Pacifics.

Bud E. Luv sings the national anthem at Opening Day for the San Rafael Pacifics.



The San Rafael Pacifics, an independent minor league baseball team, played its first game last night.  I was on hand at Albert Park in downtown San Rafael.

I needed a  picture for Marin Magazine, but since it was for the August issue so I wanted something from the scene and not from the action — and there was plenty of both — a couple of home runs from the home team, a duck mascot (Sir Francis the Drake), seats on the field, kids and families galore and a kitschy character singing the national anthem, Bud E. Luv (above).

The idea to renovate the old ball park (which seats 800) and use it for a summer baseball league was controversial. Neighbors worried about traffic, noise and rowdy fans. My studio is a block from the stadium, so I understood their concerns.

Based on what I saw last night, though, those worries were baseless. Parking was easy, the crowd was chill and despite a few opening day glitches (announcer Will Durst bowing out at the last minute, for example) all was under control.

I recommend a visit. The baseball is fun, the stadium is beyond intimate and the dogs are as good as those at AT&T. Now I want to go back and shoot some baseball.

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Learn How to Shoot on the Move

How to photograph things that move and other action photography tips

Learn how to apply the essentials of photojournalism to everyday photography in a class I’m teaching at The Image Flow in Mill Valley.

We’ll emphasize photographing action of all kinds, from youth sports to local events to children’s parties. Conquer the technical challenges of shooting on the move (continuous focus, panning, variable exposure) and learn how to move as you shoot (being ready, being patient, being close). Understand how to make the gear you’ve got work in any situation.

The class begins Thursday evening May 24, goes for three weeks and also includes a location outing with me on Saturday, June 2.

Here are the details. I hope to see you there.

Open Studios 2012: The Visitors

Open Studios 2012 at The Image Flow

Open Studios was a big success. More than 150 people dropped by The Image Flow’s new studio and gallery space in Mill Valley over the weekend to see photographs by Barbara Hazen, Stuart Schwartz and myself.

I set up a light and photographed as many of the visitors as I could against the still-unfinished studio wall. I love the mixture of people and their expressions. Everyone has a “oh, you’re taking my picture” face and you can see many of those here. Click on any of the thumbnails below to launch the gallery.

Here’s the work I showed — all new images. Enjoy.

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On the Job: A Painter

Greg Martin, Marin County painter and Marin Magazine cover contest winner

I had the opportunity this year to again photograph the winner of Marin Magazine’s annual cover contest. The winner, chosen from among more than 400 entries, was painter Greg Martin.

I photographed Greg in his studio, a basement space in his San Anselmo home. The studio is small, not more than than 10 x 20, and Greg is a big guy, what some would call a strapping lad. I squeezed a small strobe and umbrella against one wall, and let the light ricochet around the studio’s white walls and ceiling, producing a nice, soft look.

Greg’s artwork, which walks the line between whimsical and ethereal — a fun place to be — provided the backdrop. Later, I noticed he wore the same deep red Pelton’s Triumph T-shirt that he has in his bio photo for his website.

Greg was the main attraction at the magazine’s Open Studios’ party celebrating the finalists for the cover. Here are  some snapshots of him and some of the others. He has a show up at Gallery Bergelli in Larkspur (the opening is tonight.)

I enjoy photographing artists, especially painters because their studios and their painting supplies fascinate me (although Greg’s was a bit too clean for my taste). Here’s my post from a year ago about photographing the 2011 cover contest winner and a collection of other artist portraits.

Visit your local Marin artist this weekend (May 12-13) during Marin Open Studios. I’m showing my newest work at The Image Flow, 401 Miller Ave., in Mill Valley, from 11-6.

Periodismo Peligroso

Three Mexican photojournalists killed

Part of protest in Mexico City against the killing of three photojournalists.



Mexico is becoming an increasingly dangerous place to be a journalist. Three photojournalists were found dead and dismembered Tuesday in the Gulf state of Veracruz, bringing to 44 the number of journalists killed in Mexico in the last six years, according to Article 19, a press freedom group.

While that number pales next to the more than 50,000 Mexicans killed in the same period during the government’s war against the narco cartels (and cross-cartel fighting), it elevates Mexico to No. 8 on the Committee to Protect Journalists’ 2012 Impunity Index, “which spotlights countries where journalists are slain and their killers go free.” Sadly, the year is still young.

Here’s what CPJ says about Veracruz:

… a battleground for the Zetas and Sinaloa cartels, is one of Mexico’s most dangerous states for the press, according to CPJ research. Four journalists were murdered there in 2011, and on Saturday, the body of journalist Regina Martínez Pérez was found strangled in her home in Xalapa.”

I have a long history with Mexico, including being the owner of a house I built there, but with many Mexicans clamoring for an end to the violence, the repressive PRI party on the verge of regaining the control of the presidency that it held for more than 70 years; the cartels becoming increasingly entrenched in local and national politics, and a the country’s always ethically tenuous journalistic institutions fighting — quite literally — for their lives, I fear the worst for the country in the near term.

You think I’m being overly dramatic? Read this story about the threats against Jorge Medellín, a reporter for the national newspaper Milenio. An excerpt:

Mexican journalists take the smallest hint of a threat seriously because they know that killing a reporter is so easy to get away with. The word for this is impunity–killing with no consequences. None for the killer, at least. But the consequences for the Mexican people are that journalists are afraid to report the news.

Learn more: New York Times story on the latest killings; Committee to Protect Journalists; Article 19; Coverage in El Universal, a centrist paper from Mexico City

On the Job: Copita Margarita

Copita margarita, with Larry Mindel and Joanne Weir

Two of the things I love to photograph are people (of course) and food. Occasionally, I get the chance to do both at once.

That happened recently when Marin Magazine asked me to photograph restaurateur Larry Mindel and former Chez Panisse cook and and writer Joanne Weir, who have teamed up as owners of the new Sausalito Mexican restaurant, Copita.

The idea for Copita, which bills itself as a tequileria, came out of Weir’s book, Tequila: A Guide to Types, Flights, Cocktails, and Bites, so I also wanted a picture of what Weir calls her “perfect” margarita.

I photographed Mindel, Weir and the “perfect” margarita on a weekday afternoon at Poggio, Mindel’s Italian restaurant on Bridgeway in Sausalito. For the picture of them, I used a quiet back corner of the restaurant, a big front window for light and and the helping hands of a publicist to hold a reflector. For the margarita photograph, I used a small Nikon Speedlight and left plenty of space for the art director to lay in some type.  The lime wedge was Weir’s idea and it made the shot.

(For more of my food and restaurant photography, go here. And, don’t forget to buy my book: Organic Marin: Recipes from land to table.)

Opening Night for Open Studios

Marin Open Studios, Kay Carlson

Marin Open Studios kicked off its season last night with a packed party in the Town Center in Corte Madera. Painting, photography and sculpture from more than 200 artists — and, of course, plenty of wine, food and dessert — drew several hundred folks to the event on a warm, perfect Marin evening.

The exhibition and party was put together by a group of local artists — co-led by ICB Building painter Kay Carlson (above) — who came together after a brouhaha involving Open Studios’ longtime sponsor, the Marin Arts Council, threatened to cause cancellation of the 19-year-old event. (Here’s the background story.)

The exhibition will be up through May 13. Go visit.

I’m showing photographs at Open Studios this year for the first time, with much thanks to Kay, who encouraged me to participate. Come see my new work May 12-13 (11-6) at The Image Flow in Mill Valley.

Open Studios

Tim Porter, Marin Open Studios, 2012

I’m participating in Marin Open Studios this year, and thanks to the good folks at The Image Flow in Mill Valley (401 Miller Ave.) I’ll be hanging out in its gallery space the weekend of May 12-13 from 11-6 showing new work, talking photography and having a good time.

Come by.

What you’ll see are a series of new images. For a preview, here they are on my portfolio, under the Mas Que Uno section.

Find the event on Facebook here.

And, don’t miss Open Studios opening night gala at the Town Center in Corte Madera, this Saturday (4/28), 5-8 p.m. — wine, food and all the art your eyes can feast on.

Wet (at last)

Marin Cascade on Dawn Falls Trail

Winter didn’t come to Marin until Spring had already arrived. Barely a week into the new season, the rain is playing catchup, greening the pastures of the west county, soaking the marshland along the Bay, and dowsing the slopes of Mt. Tam with more than enough fresh water to fill the gullies with gushing streams, babbling brooks and carousing cascades of white water.

it’s good weather for a walk, a good time to carry a tripod into the hills, and just the right moment to straddle a stream — carefully now — and point that big, black camera down at the froth below.

This little rivulet is one of hundreds available for instant view right now on Mt. Tam. You can find this one, if you choose, on the Dawn Falls Trail above Ross. Enjoy.

On the Job: Marin’s Tweeps

Marin Tweetup in San Rafael of Marin twitteres

Marin Tweetup of local tweeps at Aroma coffee shopPut 10 or 12 people in a dark coffee shop, add in a freelance writer, a magazine editor, a roomful of customers and a couple of homeless people in the back, and you’ve got a scene.

I show up with a big light, a step ladder and a lot of attitude, hoping I can herd all these cats in front of the camera long enough to make something to illustrate a story about Marin’s twitterati. Yep, this is a tweet-up and these are the tweeps of Marin.

I’d rather photograph 10 kids than 10 adults. The kids will pay attention to me, out of fear or curiosity or the simple habit of listening to adults, but the grown-ups won’t stay focused for more than 10 seconds at time. They chit-chat, they get bored, they fuss. And when you throw in the cell-phone-in-your-hand factor, they check email, texts and tweets.

That all means that this kind of shot is lot of fun. As I shot away using almost ridiculous exposures — 1 or 2 seconds to burn in the ambient light while hitting them with the strobe — there was lots of joking, which I pretended wasn’t directed at me. Hey, they were laughing with me, right?

The group shot was done in five minutes, but the editor also wanted some casual, non-posed shots, so I gathered several of the tweeps together in a “non-pose,” moved the light in above them, put the 17mm  on the camera and encouraged them to act it up as I shot. They did. And I did. The result is the vertical shot you see here, which ran full page in Marin Magazine as a section opener.

Thanks to Mimi Towle (@mimitowle) for organizing it and the tweeps: Sally Kuhlman (@Sally_K), Sarah Houghton (@TheLib), Suzanna Stinnett (@Brainmaker), Maria Benet (@Alembic), Toni Carreiro (@toniCarr) and Marilyn LoRusso (@fun_master).

And I’m @timporterphoto.

On the Job: The Threat of Rising Seas

Bike rider in Bothin Marsh at high tide

High tide already floods the bike path through Bothin Marsh in Mill Valley.

I wrote and photographed a piece for the current issue of Marin Magazine about the projected effects of climate change, most specifically sea-level rise, on Marin County.

Marin, like much of the San Francisco Bay Area and other parts of California, faces a wetter future. If current temperature and sea level trends continue through the century, routine tides could be as much as 55 inches higher than they are today  and even higher during storm surges.

Imagine the affect of four-and-a-half feet more water on coastal communities such as Mill Valley, where today’s highest  tides already flood city streets, marshes and recreation areas.  The bike rider above is crossing Bothin Marsh between Mill Valley and Sausalito, which is already inundated several times a month by winter tides.

If what scientists predict comes to pass — and some form of it will despite all of today’s “green” mitigation efforts — rising seas are going to change the way we live and extract severe financial and social costs.

Here is the opening section. The rest is below the jump (or here online).

Rising Seas: Marin prepares for a wetter, warmer future

On the winter days when the monthly tides are highest, you can stand on the narrow, asphalt ribbon of the bike path that traverses Bothin Marsh in Mill Valley and watch the water of Richardson Bay climb over the man-made banks and rise slowly, inexorably, until its cold wetness reaches your shins. You are no longer on dry land. You are in the middle of the bay.

Flash forward to the year 2100. The earth has had 88 more years to warm up, and the seas have been rising a little more every year. Your grandkids stand in that same place on the marsh and wait for high tide. When it comes, the water flows over their heads.

That’s climate change. That’s the threat Marin County faces — higher seas, bigger tides and stronger waves that could drown the marshlands of Mill Valley and Novato, flood neighborhoods built on reclaimed land in Tam Valley, Santa Venetia and Hamilton, and erode the coastal bluffs of Bolinas.

The mess that rising seas could make of Marin is but a small part of the larger challenge climate change presents to the planet. But this story is not about the global effort to regulate carbon emissions, not about the national yammering of politicians, preachers and scientific professionals about why the earth is warming (is it man, is it nature, is it a vengeful God delivering payback for our profligate ways?), and not about whether the earth is in fact getting warmer. The mercury is rising and the oceans along with it.

This story is about Marin County and how a lot of people here are trying to make sure that come the day when the waters of San Francisco Bay — which have already risen 8 inches in the last century — are lapping at the doorsteps of homes and businesses now hundreds of feet from shore, that the inhabitants of that warmer, wetter future do not ask of our generation: Why didn’t they do something?

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On the Job: College Catalog Cover

Lenore Alford for the College of Marin

Even after putting  30 years in at the media factory, I still like getting the cover. It must be an ego thing, because it certainly isn’t the money.

This is Lenore Alford, an organist, conductor and generally all-around smart woman. I photographed her for the College of Marin, where is she teaching a class on Nadia Boulanger and the American School of musical composition in Paris — heady stuff, indeed. The college needed a a tall vertical for its community education catalog cover and Alford was the perfect subject.

The picture was made in the Mill Valley living room of one of Alford’s friends.  The piano, a baby grand, was crammed into the corner and up against a set of large, bright windows that flooded the room with morning sunlight.

I didn’t want to shoot into the windows, fearing the backlight, so at first I tried shooting away from them and toward the wall behind the piano, lighting Alford with a ProFoto D4 head into a small box. The background, though was too messy to put type into and I couldn’t blur it because I couldn’t get her far enough away from the wall.

So, I embraced the windows, deciding to blow them out and use their avalanche of light for the background. I changed Alford’s  position, took down the ProFoto, and set up a Nikon SB800 on a boom, attached a small softbox, turned the power way down (about 1/16th) and inched the light to within two feet of her head. The sunlight provided fill and tossed in some rim light as a bonus.

There is nothing technically complicated about this picture or, dare I say, artistically unique, but it is something that’s part of my daily life in my third or fourth or fight career (who’s counting, anyhow?) and might be interesting to those of you who wonder what photographers who aren’t Annie Leibowitz or Chase Jarvis do all day.

The hardest part of the shot was deciding on the lighting, not once but twice, and making those changes while Alford, the art director and the homeowners looked on — and making everyone feel not only like I knew what I was doing but that were being included in something fun.

The whole thing, from walking in the door with the gear to  schlepping it back down the drive to my car took less than an hour, a normal shoot here in the shallow end of the photography pool.

Steve Jobs: In His Own Words

Cover of Walter Isaacson biography of Steve JobsI just finished Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs and would recommend it to anyone who uses an Apple product or who is interested in creativity, intuitive thinking or, as Isaacson put it, the “intersection 0f artistry and science.”

The last couple of pages of the book Isaacson devotes to a verbatim reflection from Jobs on what he hopes his legacy might be. Here are a few selections from that extended quote. Maybe there will spur you to read the whole book.

* On market research: “Some people say, ‘Give the customers what they want.’ But that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they want before they do. I think Henry Ford once said, ‘If I’d asked customers what they wanted, they would have told me, “A faster horse.”‘” People don’t know what they want until you show it to them.

* On art and science: “Edwin Land of Polaroid talked about the intersection of the humanities and science. I like that intersection. There’s something magical about that place.”

* On startups: “I hate it when people call themselves ‘entrepreneurs’ when what they’re really trying to do is launch a startup and then sell or go public, so they can cash in and move on. They’re unwilling to do the work it takes to build a real company.”

* On honesty: “I don’t think I run roughshod over people, but if something sucks, I will tell people to their face. It’s my job to be honest. … Maybe there’s a better way, a gentlemen’s club where we all wear ties and speak in this Brahmin language and velvet code-words, but I don’t know that way, because I am middle class from California.

* On personal growth: “You always have to keep pushing to innovate. Dylan could have sung protest songs forever and probably made a lot of money, but he didn’t. … The Beatles were the same way: They kept evolving, moving, refining their art. That’s what I’ve always tried to do — keep moving. Otherwise, as Dylan says, if you’re not busy being born, you’re busy dying.”

Casualties of War (coverage)

REme Ochlik gallery

Marie Colvin, Remi Ochlik

Marie Colvin, Remi Ochlik (credits: Sunday Times; Julien De Rosa)

The deaths today in the Syrian city of Homs of reporter Marie Colvin, an American working for the The Sunday Times of London, and freelance French photographer, Rémi Ochlik, remind us — yet once again — that a free press in the face of tyranny often carries a terrible human price.

The Committee to Project Journalists tallied 476 journalists killed worldwide in 2011, half of whom were murdered in places like Mexico, where carrying a notebook or a camera is among the country’s most perilous professions, and the other half were killed on assignment in a  place where bullets and bombs are part of daily life, perhaps caught in a crossfire, as Colvin and Ochlik were when Syrian forces shelled the city.

Let’s honor their work by sharing it, experiencing its emotion and committing ourselves, in whatever small way we can (here’s one way) to the enhancement and protection of a free press and the people who practice it.

Here is Colvin’s last video report and transcript for CNN, a moving story about the death of child from Syrian bombs. Note the passion, anger and frustration in her voice.

Here is Rémi Ochlik’s site. Above is the splash page of his portfolio. Note the dangerous geography he has been working in.

Deborah

Deborah Nickerson Briggs Rabin

Deborah Rabin, my mother-in-law and a great friend, died a couple of weeks ago from cancer.

I made this picture of her in July 2006 in my living room in Mill Valley. I had just bought some new strobes — my first “big” ones — and she came over with an armful of hats to help me test them.

I knew next to nothing about lighting, so I pointed a softbox at her face and shot away. Her extraordinary beauty did the rest. I love the shape of her face and the directness of her look in this shot. Pure Deborah.

Today, I would change the lighting — and certainly the crop — but nothing about her. Deborah lived life with unrelenting, and enviable, self-fulfillment and expected all of us who knew her to do no less.

I miss her.

There’s a full obituary of Deborah here, at deborahrabin.wordpress.com.

On the Job: David Harris, Honestly

David Harris

I made this photo of David Harris, the writer, onetime anti-war activist and ex-husband of singer Joan Baez, a couple of years ago, but it never saw the light of day. I was on assignment for Marin Magazine, which used a different frame (see the story and photo here.)

I came across this shot again while compressing the archives (a weekly task) and it made me think of meeting Harris.  He was an iconic and heroic figure in my youth — a former Stanford student body president who made a stand against the Vietnam War by refusing the draft and doing prison time for it, and the guy who married the most luscious chanteuse of the day in an era when politically-minded folk singers were considered hot.

David Harrs outside of his Mill Valley homeFour decades later when I met Harris in his Mill Valley home I was a bit intimidated and hoped I could make a picture worthy of my opinion of him, which when I left 45 minutes later I wasn’t sure I had (but I was even more self-critical in those days than I am now — something those who know me well might find hard to believe).

A couple of months later, the magazine chose one image and I worked up another (the one at left) for my book.  I filed away the rest.

As I culled the shoot further today for archiving, I began to really like this frame. Harris seems patient, aware of my presence, but also awaiting my departure. It’s a moment in between. There’s no subterfuge, no pretense of me not being there. It seems to be an honest photo and, increasingly, that’s all I want to make.

***

Here’s Harris in his own words about what happened to him in the 1960s:

“If you were a young man in the United States in 1966, you had the option of being John Wayne in “The Sands of Iwo Jima” or John Wayne in “The Sands of Iwo Jima” or John Wayne in “The Sands of Iwo Jima.”

Read more if Harris’ recollection here or read a People magazine profile of him about his post-Baez marriage to late New York Times reporter Lacey Fosburgh.