Who Knew Then,Treat it Serious Now

That’s my dad, Raphael and his partner Leroy. That’s a Tommy gun on the right. That’s a riot gun on the left. That’s the third largest diamond ever found in the raw, handcuffed to my dad. 

Found in South Africa when a woman tilling her field sat on it by accident, later sold to Harry Winston, it was shipped via the United States Postal System. The Two in the picture, a team of Postal Inspectors had the honor of receiving it and transporting it to Harry Winston in NYC. Harry took advantage of the best and lowest price escort by insuring it via the US Mail, but that’s not what this story is about. 
It is about the importance of archiving photography, for a future we can’t see now and not judging what has or doesn’t have value. 
On route to Harry. they stopped to check in at their office and another inspector there asked them to stop and pose for a quickie Polaroid. A fast snap taken to show the folks back home, me included who at the time was a young photographer with my bathroom darkroom setup and my new MamyiaRB67 . It was another assignment in my dad’s work but one that needed some extra copies to send to the rest of the family. The original must have been 3×4 apprx. and he asked if I could make a copy. I did and a few negatives at that. I stored them in an archival glassine, gave one to them and filed the others.
35 years later, the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC wanted to dedicate a section to the Postal System and its great Postal Inspection Department. Also known as a secret service that took no credit for the myriad of cases both local and international, it gave away the accolades to the other departments that enforce the law. Its history is rich and its reputation among the inside law enforcers and breakers was outstanding. They were the final word…FEDERAL.
The Smithsonian searched for a definitive picture that would speak for the whole of who they are and after many thousands of edits stumbled on this one long gone faded Polaroid but from a print done from the copy neg, chose this. With today’s better equipment. I scanned and cleaned negative and gave them a reproducible  file to turn into this card,calendar, and permanent display in the museum. 
Often we pass over many images that we deem as no real value. In our haste we discard or misplace the many images, particularly in today’s digital world seeing them as non-important,a happy snap,something that we don’t even consider. This one thirty some years ago could have been just that…a ” hey guys, look aver here” and time would have moved on as this would have faded away. Luckily it didn’t. It, while who knew then, now belongs and is part of history. 
From this point of view, we are more than jsut photographer, we are the in a way the gaurdians of history, no matter how big or small the events we record. To that end, our responsibility to the future is our approach to the present and what we do as photographers, happy snaps or major works takes on a different meaning.         

Hopping truths in the News..?

Here’s a funny story that happened some years ago when I first started to shoot food.

I was called on by an editor of some popular “rag sheets” that you find at the checkout counters in the supermarkets. They wanted to do a story about frog legs and asked if I had any in stock. I didn’t but living here in South Florida at that time provided no problem .
A local fish market had a supplier who hunted frogs in the Everglades, big ones too and that afternoon I got some of the best. I prepared them myself, some I had to eat of course…and photographed them as well. Sending up the film..(ah the good old film days when I wasn’t in front of the computer all day for every thing I now do, when I dropped off my film,had lunch with others while we waited the 3 hours or so,had food,beer/wine and talked about everything, about being and having a HUMAN touch ).. excuse me I digress… anyway, they selected this and a verticle shot as well to see how it would lay out.
I had asked about the story but they were vague, she was simply the photo editor doing her research etc… about a month  later I am in a local super market and I spot my shot very nicely reproduced with all appropriate bylines, and paid for of course, under the headline.. ” Scientists have found why the French make such great lovers”  semi quoted here…why ,the story asks..because they eat Frogs legs and frogs have been found to feed on flies, the aphrodisiac ones that they pass on in their meat.Since the French are known to eat them…VOILA..cum eere ma cheri!!!  Now I may be French and on occasion eat a couple, I always thought it was my je ne sait qua …  
Now a couple of months go by and I am at the photo show in NYC at Javits. I go to a local market and there in another newspaper I see the shot again, this time…” Man sues famous restaurant in France over a heart attack, when his diner of frogs legs gets up and dances in his plate.” wow…Fred Astair and Kermit rolled into one… 
Both stories in separate papers used this image, created in my kitchen supplied from the Everglades. Now, I know about freedom of the press and artistic license but this was absolute parody or should have been. 
While it didn’t make me hopping mad, it did make me laugh for a long time. If you have a similar story email to me to post it here…