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Thursday, June 20, 2019

My favorite photographer story

I saw this on Usenet back in the day. Back in Mark of 1998, a guy named John J. Stafford shared this story.

Around 1971 I found myself assigned to cover a minor soap-box derby race in suburban Chicago. I was young, between the ages of the participants and their parents, bored with suburban stuff because there was so much more "happening" in the city of Chicago. "This is one didly-squat assignment.", I told myself, but tried to get into it anyway.

When I thought I'd seen it all, I made one more walk through the whole scene before leaving early, when I saw an older man in good clothes, European, I thought, smiling away and enthusiastically shooting pictures. "A real enthusiast.", I thought. Then the man saw me, all decked out with three Nikons like any city photog and he said Hello.

Yea, a foreign accent. I introduced myself in passing, still moving on, and didn't catch his name. (Not being one to suffer difficult accents, I barely tried.) "Didn't get it. What's your name again?", I asked. "EISIE!", he said, smiling broadly.

Holy shit. It really was Alfred Eisenstaedt, on this "Didly" assignment in my idea of "nowhere suburbia." I was so flustered that I reshot the whole thing. It ran as a full-page feature, but to this day, I'd love to know what Eisenstaed got. I've got to believe it was better.


  1. Eisie was a helpful guy. Ran into him while photographing and recognized him. Was a big fan of his work. As we visited he mentioned he had watched as I photographed a few things and asked if he could make a suggestion? Sure - was my response.
    He showed me "how to hold the camera" for a more steady platform with slower shutter speeds. I tried his suggestion and it has worked well for me for decades now.
    As with many "top tier shooters"I have met through the years he was helpful and interested in most everything around him. An interest that translated to excellent results.

    1. So naturally I ask (surprised nobody else did): what was the technique Eisie taught you? I'd rather know this than buying a camera with 5-axis VR etc (I know I'm writing this a few months after the comment was posted, maybe anonymous is off to greener pastures).

  2. Some story. Usenet, eh? Many people today have NO IDEA what Usenet was. I have spoken to many about Usenet,and have only once met a real,live person who was familiar with Usenet.

    1. I've been hangin around the place a long time.