Tag Archives: Dreams

It’s not about what you make pictures of …

It’s about what you don’t make pictures of …

Olde City, Philadelphia, 1975   Courtesy Richard Chait

Thru the years, actually many of them, I learned when I  was younger, I liked to TAKE pictures. When I became a more hip photographer, it became, I like to MAKE pictures. Years would pass and I became a more experienced shooter and I liked to MAKE PHOTOS. Making rather than TAKING,  after all, let’s not degrade the fine art aspect of photography. The Horror!

Now that I am in the September of my years, I MAKE IMAGES, not TAKE IMAGES. Proper images at that. Of course, maybe  I am the only one that notices or even gives a hoot. Not true but saying it releases a lot of pressure.

Ok, all, grab your camera and let’s go for a virtual walk, It’s fine to use your virtual camera now. A few things to bare in mind. You can make virtual photos of anything you want. As we walk about, whatever suits you to make a photo, do it. Next to me is Jenny. She stops for a second raises the camera and clicks. She asks me to look at the frame and I do. So, we walk a wee bit more and I ask her, jenny, what made you stop our virtual walk and make that photo?

She replied, virtually of course … “well Don, I wanted to see what was missing before the photo. I was connecting my units, as you showed me. I felt it was all together and I realized instantly I needed to make the photo.


I know I mentioned triggers, sensitivities, sensibilities, and other visual things that make the recipe of a photo. So, what is it that does not conjure up an image in our minds? Is it that we are living in a world that is mundane and we seek the special?  That’s maybe a part of it but methinks it’s more than that.  I feel that the photo we want to really make and breathe, calls to us. We don’t find anything but something finds us.

There is a special duty a photo could serve. There is a special purpose we could serve to make them. There was a shrink many years ago named, Dr. Murray Banks. He was brilliant and had a very good sense of humor. A quote of his is, “As you go throughout your life, brother whatever be your goal, keep your eye upon the donut and not upon the hole.”  This sums up the concept,  “It’s about what you don’t make pictures of …”

Imagine if you will, that there are some people and you want a photo of just one. This person is in a group but you just want that person. That person will feel special because you singled he, she or trans out. That is a special feeling. But, what of the others that you don’t make a photo of?

That person was worth the memory. In time, and quickly, you will love the memory of that person and the experience. But the others, no memory will survive, Does that mean they aren’t worth the memory or the memory of the experience? I think not. It’s the things that draw us that command a memory. They are not always the first choice but they count and need to be honored with a memory of your life experience that joins yours.

I made a photo of my grandmother sitting on a sofa in her home. It was like 1975. The photo is one of my prized possessions. When I clicked the shutter I was fully aware that the photo would eventually outlive her and in time outlive me. I remember Pop. my grandfather standing 5′ away but he didn’t sit down. He was looking out the window. I made the photo and since then my heart aches because I miss both of them and only have the photo of her. I have the memory of the loss of him.


Life Lesson, Edmund Bacon


This series of post is about rethinking, re-feeling past experiences. We all have past experiences and many are notable. Just like photos, they are memories of past experiences. It seems to me that experiences of both photos and thoughts are similar but very different. Not easy to conjure up past experiences and yet a photo easily exposes the detail of the moment.

Anyway. I met Edmund Bacon from the AIA.  American Institute of Architecture. I was working on a series of portraits of American Artist. After a short time, it became evident that we connected in a most beautiful manner.

We would walk around and he would tell me so many things I really didn’t know. One day on our walk a bout, Ed stopped at a Liberty Tower and leaned against it, putting his ear to a wall. For the life of me, I hadn’t a clue what he was doing. Then he called me over and said, do as I am doing. I looked around and saw people watching us and I felt awkward. I’m used to being the observer not the observed.

Ed saw I was kinda self conscious and started to talk with me. Don, there’s an interaction in every breath in life and with what you do with that breath.  Your photography is excellent and your dedicated to the art. I am a lover of space and buildings. Many here know me and they communicate with me. When you had your ear to the wall, what did you hear? I had a dazzled look on my face and he pulled me to the wall again.. Put your ear to the wall and cover the other ear. Now put a hand on the wall near your ear. Ed did the same thing with opposite ears and hand and looked right in my heart.

Ed said, do you hear those sounds? Can you hear the difference? What do you feel?  He said there’s a steady heartbeat and that’s the pendulum. That sound is the buildings heart. Do you hear a creaking sound? That the materials holding it all together. Can you feel a vibration and have it inside you? He pulled me away and we walked more and I made photos as he directed.

Ed said, that building is the equivalent of your photos.  The bid difference Don is, with City Planning, I am at one with the world. My wife Ruth understood and supported me best she could. out photography is your life’s effort and needs to be as strong as any building. Your photos are the summation of man and the environment. They are separate and yet many times, they become one. Ed and I made a dummy book and I still have it. I suppose no one will ever publish it because he wasn’t a cowboy with a white hat. He was an opinionated strong man. He stood for his believes at all cost. Some of you reading this understand.

My Edmund Bacon take a way is … It is all the oneness, what makes the difference is not in what you see or frame but how and why you do it.



June 11th, 2019 … Analyzing Intent … Soul Shooter … Pt 1

…. aight, so then what about intent? Who the heck invented that anyway … and then makes everyone, well many everyone’s but not all everyone’s but enough= everyone’s to question the intent of the intent makers intent. I ain’t one to rock the boat, too much. Been married way too long and too many divorces to do that. So, I know how to escape and get outside and go make photos by myself. Ahhh, so maybe, just maybe it’s crazy but maybe that there being by myself is the issue of intent.

One of the residents in my mind talks about the here and now. I tried to find him but he’s hiding and watching me make a fool of myself. I know this. If you’re being a fool and being that unknowingly, you’re a fool. If you’re being a fool and your fool intent is working, you may appear to be a fool but your not.

Here’s what it has to do with photography.

I say it applies to photography but actually, it’s a life lesson. Let’s just deal with the photography part and maybe address the other parts later.

We all know about the here and now. If you’re just joining us, go back and find the there and then. Study it and when you feel you are ready, join us in the here and now. What exactly is in the here and now? I know, I know we all been taught that if you’re there in the here and now, your in tune with life within and without you. (GH) But what exactly is this element that we become aware of? It’s not the camera unless you connect to it in a most elegant manner. Your clothes are present, the air you breathe, etc. the YOUR is part of the key.

We might say it;’s our persona or perhaps it’s like awareness of all and also forgetting that all. I’m sure all that counts in the total of our life’s existence. Go to a funeral or flashback to the one you went to and remember the words….” May his soul rest in peace, this could also be, May her soul rest in peace.” That’s it, not kidding… it’s that soul guy I’m chasing after. Soul woman whatever.


I think most get it wrong. We figure that a camera is a tool I never felt that way. I always felt my camera was a partner in my work and maybe a soul mate. I name my cameras. It keeps me in touch with what I am responsibly doing. The real tools are not the camera by any means, it’s the eye, heart, and mind. See those 3 tools are keeping you alive and able to continue. So then, if we all accept that and I’m sure you will, what becomes the driving factor of those tools. Two things. The medical profession sucking all your money to keep those tool working and the other is, your soul to use and love those tools.


So, my belief is kinda distorted because life always has it’s own opinions and sets them to my mind.  Perhaps, I’m talking about religion and spirituality.  Religion equates to the camera brand you use. It’s the part of you to operate within a guideline of life experience, past and yet to be realized. We may all differ on brands. Spirituality is the source of commonality between us all. It’s the SOUL of living and the SOUL of photography. This is an inescapable truth.

The essence of your images is a direct result of the experiences of living and making photos.


The reason I write this stuff is partly that I find that there needs to be a connect with the world. We are apart. like it or not and that very statement conjures up the notion that we are responsible and accountable for our photos. We are not politicians that get to keep the buck and not be accountable for any wrong doing. We are humans with a camera and that means we are accountable to our selves, our work, and our subject matter.

Getting tired again. I need to rest but will continue this tomorrow.

Be blessed, my friends






The Weeds and the Flowers


December 6th, 2017 … The Excellence of Being

Of course this is a loaded topic but nonetheless, I want to get into it some. There are times that when I am working, something comes over me and I am totally aware of my being.  Some may call the the ZEN. Perhaps it is. I read a series of books that has effectly altered my thinking and feelings about being. This was in the early 1970’s. The author was Carlos Castaneda.  Many say he made everything up but who cares. The world is made up and all we do is choose the parts we want to believe and love.  Anyway, it’s basically about Carlos and his relationship with a Native American mentor named Don Juan.

I think Don Juan had a more focused outlook on life than even the Zen Masters. Different for sure but extremely focused.


Some things Don Juan taught Carlos and me by reading, was that…Death is always on your Left Shoulder. He also taught that if you are doing something, it must be worth your death. If you are in the middle of anything and death comes to you, you must not have wasted life but embraced it and your death. Death must be worth you life and you are able to feel as a warrrior not only thru life but thru death.


What does this have to do with photography? Well, I believe that photography is a cause for going on. So, that being the case, what attitude should I have when working? What frame of heart and mind shall process what my eyes present to them? What is the switch that I can hit that makes things lighter and less important? I have never been able to answer these questions and more. I found that it is better to live the answers than to try to verbally define them.

The independant state  of being is attached to the breathing of photography.

I had a friend for a long time. His name is jack. Jack was a successful commercial photographer. He made a lot of money and was in demand in DC, Phila and NYC. We met at Oscar’s Pub years ago and chatted and each expressed our views on photos and stuff. Jack said I was too serious and asked how much money I made with my camera. I felt kinda second class and told him I had to leave.

It moved me about the thought of equating satisfaction and success with money. I really felt  kinda out of place. Life went on and cameras and photos came and went. One day I was at Logan Square and sitting on a bench. All the sudden, Jack came to me and sat next to me.  I said, Jack, it’s been a long time man. He said, yup,12 years and 2 wives.

I asked Jack what he was making photos of and he quickly stated that he gave photography up cause the money well dried out.  I asked him if he did personal wotrk and he said, never. Then Jack asked me if I still was making photos. I looked at him and said, Jack….if you need to ask that question, you don’t know me at all.

I shook Jack’s hand and got up and walked away. I never saw him again and yet I never wanted to either. The excellence of being is not absorbed from others but born inside of each of us. We all have the ability to produce a life with photos that teases our death. We can’t escape it but we can live the moment of excellence of being so that when the time comes, we depart with a peace that is undescribable to those that do not heed the warnings or the flavor of life.

I don’t expect many to agree with me or even like this post. That’s not the issue. The thing is, now you have an understanding of where I’m at.

So, tell us where your at?

October 8th, 2017 … Measure Yourself Against The World … Thoughts On My 68th B’Day

There comes a time when we need to sit and look at our work and try to see where we were, were we are and where we think we are heading. I figured this time, at my 68th birthday was a good time for personal re-evaluation. See, we ALL need to do this because we need to check our stuff so the map of our life going forward has some light on it.

We spend time looking at other shooters photos. A good thing to a degree. We spend time reading books and even studying the masters and famous photographer’s. We watch movies about these people and movies about exhibitions. We go to galleries and museums and get close to original images we admire.

So this is an ongoing romance with everyone and everything but ourselves. We feel inspired by all the works we see and feel from everyone….. wait a second here, I ain’t no coward and I ain’t no dummy. What I mean is, after a time of indulgence in others and their work, is it possible that we do that so we avoid confronting our own work?

See, it’s easy to avoid the truth of one’s self. Oh, it’s easy to lie to yourself but to confront and accept the truth, no way. It’s ok as we all have these issues. Well, I see it this way. Ya know how when ya go and buy a new shirt, that you really like? Then ya wear it and don’t get many nice remarks and ya feel your feelings are hurt? (this does not apply to woman. See, if a woman gets a blouse and even if it’s the blouse from hell, when her man or her woman sees it, it’s gotta be the most beautiful blouse in recorded history. If not, Hell hath no fury…. ya know the rest)

Well, some of the photos you make and not all by any means, are your feelings and thoughts and vision. Others see them and decide for themselves the value of them and how they individually relate to your work and you. This is a very delicate situation. It’s a delicate way because, the viewer may or may not want to comment. If they do, will they post the true feelings and be honest ot just post what they think you want or need to hear.

So we need to be honest with ourselves. This is very hard to do and although it must be done on a regular basis, we probably will find it easier to avoid this. I do for sure. Man, I’ll go out with my camera and shoot and make photos and just be in a state that satisfies me on levels not much else comes close to. Then when I start to process some will come to life and I fall in deeper love. I realize that I am trying to use the photo as a catalyst for my thoughts and emotions.

The hardest part is to abandon the ego. To just accept yourself as a human with a camera and to love what that means. It ain’t about how others see and think of you. It ain’t about how anyone sees and thinks about your work. It’s about truth. The truth that you are your life and your work. To stand strong and be accountable for what and why you do photography.

This approach does not negate the responsibility that we all must assume and utilize for others. It’s just that being in the moment is one thing. I am certainly an advocate for the Eye, Heart and Mind.

When you see the above photos, your seeing me. I stand for them and they stand for me. I feel them and they give me reason to continue.  Some will think that there’s little value to these photos or in fact any I ever made or will make. That’ a fine response. We all hae opinions and I respect all.

At 68 today, these photos are me standing nude in front of you minus my pecker and that ain’t no big deal anymore….

Be blessed my friends…………………

August 18th, 2017 … Memory or The Decisive Moment … Finale … almost maybe…?

There are a few Decisive Moment scenarios. One is when your working and something starts to happen. There is no set rule on Inspiring the Decisive Moment. This can happen in many ways and that in itself will create some type of masked confusion or a cloudy Decisive Moment. The normal DM kinda happens a dn you make the exposure because you were so inspired by internal or external stimuli or a combination of each. This is mostly a conscious experience.

The hopefully there in an experience that seems like all the rest of the DM’s but……something happens at exposure or at processing that marks a real moment. There is a dormant awakening that comes to light usually at sight of the image in editing or processing. With this image, wakes the recollection of the the Decisive Moment but….there is an awareness of the experience as an observer and participant at the same time. It’s like your seeing yourself, watching yourself making the photo. Maybe this is like the deja  vu of photography. It doesn’t happen all the time and not everyone gets to experience this. Not because they are at a level that prohibits the awareness but because they are not tuned into the frequency that this experience lives.

“The best images are the ones we don’t remember making.” Perhaps there is some truth to this saying. At my age, 67, I have learned that there are not many truths in life. Even the ones we tend to hold dear sometimes end up with shades of gray to them. What’s clear to me is that clarity is the resting place for the eye, heart and mind. We don’t often achieve clarity so we make photos. When we make photos we have an intent. Our intent is controlled by our knowledge and passion and our gear. Yes, the camera is a crucial element to our work.

There in most definitely a difference between the Moment and The Decisive Moment.

When I was a grunt in Nam, I carried a Leica M4. I made b&w photos. I met a photographer from Australia named Jock. He was older then me and very wise but tuned into the moment. I didn’t know that that meant back then. I suppose he was a Mentor for me and I needed the mental and emotional reinforcement. We were all sitting around smoking weed and Jock was with us and making photos. He said to me, “JIngles, where’s your camera?” I looked at him and he nodded his head. I reached in my sack and got my M4. I had made many photos of the guys and missions, everything. But now, at this moment, I had a realization that was life effecting. I understood for the efirst time the difference between the MOMENT and the MEMORY.

I understood the INTENT of each. I understood the importance of each as an individual intent and combined. The moment or decisive moment will lead to photos that add to the creative juices. The moment will lead to photos that inspire you, or maybe fill a void in the self, or even satisfy the artistic energy or maybe do the same for a client. Just realize that your most important client is you.

The memory. Wow this is the hard one. It’s the hardest intent to actually realize and do. Back to the guys and Jock in Nam. I was making photos because the subject matter is amazing. Everything was working. I was hammering the decisive moment. Then a slight calm came over me. All the sudden, the decisive moment wasn’t so important. I looked at the guys and slowly made photos of most of them. Not one but many of each. I was totally aware that I wanted to, NO….Needed to make a lasting memory of my friends, my brothers in arms and the experience. I got close to a few and asked them to look into my lens. I made many exposures. I wanted to make a portrait or photo that would outlive them and me. This intent of so fragile of a moment was MEMORY.

So realizing the difference of the Decisive Moment and the Moment of Memory is the driving force and also the force that will make or break you and your work. All you have to do is know the difference and practice it.

Be blessed everyone………Doc is letting me out of my room for the weekend……..seeya

April 13th, 2017 … Philly Streets … Observations with the … Olympus Pen F


Perhaps it’s because I have a love affair with seeing and photography that drives me to continue my journey. One of my companions is Serendipity the Olympus Pen F. There’s something about really fine cameras that not only inspires me but also creates a sort of freedom for my thoughts and emotions. I suppose that thoughts and emotions are the foundation of creativity. When I work the streets, I want to feel free to do as I wish without intrusion from my mind or any source of energy. Maybe that’s why I get attached to cameras. The fact is that the right camera at the right time can be a life raft in the sea of uncertainty. In my life so far, there’s been very few things or people that have allowed me to be as I desire. My cameras do that. So with respect to my process, I name my cameras.


Seeing photos is the first step in making them. For me there’s a few ways that the seeing works. Sometimes I am walking and a scene triggers me and i make a photo.  Sometimes, I feel something inside and I try to find it outside. Sometimes, I see a photo or the basics of a photo in my mind and then I try to make it visible to me. The photo above is just that.

I have been in combat and experienced things that killed me but left Don alive. I kinda got freaked out about the conflict in Sierra and especially the chemical attacks. The the MOAB that was dropped. In my heart and mind, I felt the need to see visually what impact this had on me. One thing is the kids. The Orphans of Love. The Forgotten Innocence. Well this photo conjures the feelings I have and displays it for me.


The detachment of the social being intrigues me to no end. I made selfies like anyone else but in time they started to mean more to me than just a selfie. Above, makes me see that I am the observer and the one that captures the moment. There exist an internal connection that we are harbor but sharing that with others is unlikely. Maybe that’s at the core of my being for being a shooter.  I find it easier to observe than to be a participant.


I was at Independence Hall and I saw this crowd, detached as usual. The this guy and his son came into view and I realized that maybe the detachment is not with everyone. Is it possible that I have created a trigger to seek the detachment? Is that why these two stand out from the crowd?

The reason I made this post is to maybe shed light on a way to develop a vision that becomes personal and even if the photos don’t strike a chord with too many, at least for us, they reverberate inside our being. They could feed the reason to work. They could provide that creative energy to get things flowing.


Photography creates a great illusion of being detached or attached, your choice. The way you feel is not necessarily the way you work. We have options to carve the path for our journey or to go over the steps of those whom went before us. Being an observer doesn’t mean that I am detached  same as being a participant doesn’t mean that I would be attached.

Being in the moment and being aware of the difference is what makes the attentive shooter. I learned years ago that I make my work for me and some others that respond to it. I had many exhibitions, many collectors, galleries and museums and what means the most to me is, having my camera with me and being in the here and now.


I will not be sad to die because photography has been my companion all my life. My cameras have names because they deserve the respect and love that they have given me. I will lay in the ground for all eternity and not be sad. What would make me sad is to be alive without photography. That my friends is a fate worse then death.

……………………………….I’m outta here……………………………

March 2nd, 2017 … Finding My Way … Fujifilm X100F

Many think I’m crazy or weird or things I don’t even know. I guess they are right and I let it go. What I do know is: that I want to be me and know whom that it is. I don’t want to be a stranger to myself. I don’t want to sell myself out so that I win popularity polls or get lots of likes. I want to be me and confident and aware of that as much as I can. Photography was never foreign to me. I never felt out of place or felt the struggle. I’m not saying I don’t struggle, I’m just saying I don’t feel the struggle cause I LIVE photography. I will cease to exist without it. I mean it, really. I am 67 giving 68 a run for the money. I’m a Libra. The advantage I have over younger shooters is that I accept what do and constantly push the envelope.

So how does one assume a stance of identity and maintain it. What does this require anyway? Well, I have worked with a number of shooters and I’m proud to say many are well accomplished now and understand the inner self they live with. A voice yells out…. Shooter, what does this have to do with the Fujifilm X100F?  Relax voice, this is what I’m talking about.

The X100F is highly configurable. If you need good settings, check out Kevin Mullins. http://f16.click/gear/fujifilm-x100f-settings.html

Kevin does weddings, family and street and probably other things too. He’s an X-Shooter and had the camera  for a few months.

So youse can all figure out the setting and I won’t get to deep into that part. What I do is life on the streets. So I realize that once the camera is setup, very rarely do I need to change anything. When it comes to working, I do have preferences.  I use a base exposure outside of 1/250 f8. I use Auto ISO 99.99% of the time. That’s set from ISO 200 – 6400 and shutter speed @ 1/125. so on the streets usually I like Manual focus and set focus distance at 10.9′ but ya can’t get the .9′ so just a nudge past 10′. That’s about hyper-focal distance for this camera at f8. That means that anything from about 5′ to infinity is in acceptable focus. Bear in mind, that hyper-focal distance works but it’s also true that things in front of the near point of hyper-focal distance, it’s doesn’t just cut off. It’s a gradual decrease in sharpness. I also use f11 a lot and there we have focus point of 7.7′ and from somewhat more then 3.5′ to infinity will be in focus.

There’s another way to do this but maybe not as efficient. I have the AEL/AFL button to lock focus point. So, I could lock focus anytime at all and even set hyper-focal distance if I wanted to measure on the street to get the required distance. I use that button when I’m working and setting a scene and I lock focus so I can anticipate the shot. I’m  not concerned about distance here, just locking the focus until I’m ready to release. The major difference between this and hyper-focal is that with the button, your locked at a set distance and if someone move out of that range, poof. With hyper-focal, you have a zone of focus and is someone moves out of the exact focus point, they are sill in acceptable range of focus.

It’s imperative to understand and use Hyper-focal distance with any camera on the street. Fortunately for us, The X100F makes this procedure very quick, accurate and painless. There’s a focus scale and it’s very accurate as all Fujifilm cameras are. So, hyper-focal distance and Auto ISO are the most required parts of a camera for the street.  Something to pay attention to. When you set Hyper-Focal distance or any distance that locks the focus, the frame box locks also. So you may need to watch the frame as it doesn’t move but you can always use the EVF if your working close. That’s always accurate. The OVF is also but that box won’t move once you lock focus. Not a biggie but I always pay attention to my frame edges.

On the streets, I really like a screen. It’s thee most accurate way to work. The X100F has a great screen and you can set the brightness to where you want it. With the screen, your holding the camera out and seeing a 2 dimensional image surrounded by 3 dimensional reality. No, sorry, not the same using a finder. The screen allows both eyes open, if you have 2 and that’s a blessing. All that being said, I love the finder on this camera. I am not talking about any other camera I have, or ever used, just this camera named Andre’ the Fuji X100F.

I remember walking with Winogrand and we are talking and looking at ladies and he would take his camera up and out and never look at it, just at the subject. I asked him, “Garry, how can you make a photo like that and not see”? He said that it’s about eye contact. If the camera is at the eye, the subject will see it right away. If the subject glances at the camera and it’s off face, then they immediately draw to your eyes. I understood what he meant and even felt after I saw photos he made like that. I decided to forget about that but couldn’t. Now, the X100F makes that an easy task. Just leave the screen on and that’s it. You get to make photos that you can’t ever do if the camera is at the eye.

The finder on the X100F is nice because you have 2 coices of vision. Obviously the most accurate is the EVF. The OVF allows me to use 2 eyes when I’m working.

I like to see from my left and frame from my right. There is a scale difference from the left eye seeing vs the right eye seeing thru the camera. It’s not bad at all. Most will tell you that the OVF allows you to see around the frame. It’s true but with both eyes open, you see a lot more around the frame. Suzanna my friend is an Eye Surgeon and she uses both eyes even with the EVF. I can’t and she says cause I’m old and stubborn. Probably right.

I have my camera doing B&W Acros +r. That’s doing a JPEG. I always used RAW in LR but the more I use this camera, the more I don’t care about Raw. I just love the responsiveness the X100F gives me. It’s a very satisfying experience. Anyway, I’m done for now and will try to do some more over the weekend.

Peace to all………….shooter out…………………………………………..



January 12th, 2017 … Magic of the Street … Being a Visual Alchemist

Maybe I’m just to sensitive to things but the mood on the street at this time, in Philly is one of confused mixed emotions. I don’t mean politics or work, or financial issues, it’s more about the magic that is missing. Yeah, I know I’m crazy. See, life is a beautiful things and it’s good to live it. The thing for me is to have the magic and that makes living more special. Photography is based on visual magic. Seeing a scene and making a photo is magic. The idea of seeing, the idea of making a photo….nothing short of magic. When I was doing my darkroom for 40+ years, the alchemy turned me on to a high that no drug could ever match. For me, making the negs was the most exciting part of the processing part.

I mean, going out and working and then coming home to my darkroom, making negs, that proves that all went well so far. So if in fact that photography is magic then it seems to me that when I make a photo, and that is magic, how about the people in the photo? Do they see or feel magic? Do they even believe anymore in magic? Is the magic contagious? Where does the magic get it’s energy from?

Is it possible to share the magic? Does magic need to have people convinced that it exist? Don’t they know that just the fact that they exist means they live with and in magic? So, if we as shooters seek and fine magic and make a photo that has magic in it, does that mean we are magicians? Well, we are alchemist in the darkroom, much like Merlin, so perhaps we are magicians in a world that has lost the magic. I name all my cameras like I named my guitars. I don’t really talk to my cameras but if I did my Shrink needs to know about it.

We are given choices in life. One of the choices is how we see the world. I mean as shooters, how do we see the world. Do we just walk around aimlessly and wait for photos to find us and we can TAKE them? That’s a way many seem to work. Then there is the shooters that walk around and they are visual alchemist and they seek and find material to MAKE photos. It’s like there is a passive/aggressive method of working. I see it as either an observer or a participant. You can even be both at the same time. So really I suppose it’s a matter of stance again. How we feel about ourselves and our subject matter.

Harry Bertoia told me that I need to dance thru life. Life is a dance he said. As you dance thru it, sometimes the music is not to your liking but you just dance anyway because in time, the music of life will change to your liking. Just the very concept of what Harry said is magic. The magic in the dance of life, tat’s what I want to see and experience and make photos of.

So when we look at our work, we see the magic of life thru our lens. We experience life in a way that not everyone gets to do. We have a gift and we get to share it with other like minded people. The beauty of that experience is beyond words. For me, life with a camera is magic and life without the camera is almost unbearable….not almost, it is! I am at the age that I make my photos and the real magic for me now is that I need no reinforcement from anyone to make me feel better. My photos do that for me.

Enjoy my friends and love the magic and if you can’t find it, look at your photos and then you should see it.


December 6th, 2016 … Reflections of a Shooter … Harry Callahan



What I do have is over 50 years as a shooter. Uh oh, didn’t realize youse alls was here.  Anyway, to get ya’s caught up….we are discussing the reflections of my reflecting inner self. Oh, scuse me again. I should introduce who be having this chat. There’s yours truly, there’s my reflection and we are both reflecting on my inner self that comes out for photography.

It is said and I do believe that every photo is a self portrait of the shooter. It does not imply a selfie only as a self portrait. What i mean is that if we are awake and in touch with ourselves at exposure, then all that we were or all that we are is present at exposure and thus the photo is a reflection of the self. Whatever your thinking or feeling is present in the photo. Of course the old adage of …There are none so blind as those that will not see, applies always.




We were heading to the McDowell Colony to see Harry Callahan. I was invited to make a Portrait of Harry. So Harry & I talked a little and I asked him to sit on the steps leading to the entrance to the  house. I set up my 8×10 Deardorff with the 420mm Red Dot Artar. I frame and focus, lock the camera, put in a film holder and start chatting with Harry. He looks at me and smiles holding fast in position as a shooter would. CLICK! I pull the holder out ant put it in my bag. All the sudden a voice of the Photography Angel, Anne Tucker says, Don your going to make  a few more exposures aren’t you?

Immediately Harry says, He’s got it, he knows what he’s doing. I pack the bag and Harry comes over to me, puts a hand on my shoulder and says, let’s walk and talk a little. We walk a little and Harry says, your a cocky fucker aren’t you? I said, you really think so? He smiles and says, nah… I’m the same fucking way. Harry says, if your not in it 100%, where are ya.

We go back to the porch and harrygoes into rest. In a minute, Barbara comes to me. Don, as you know, Dad always made portraits of Mom and me. He says he’s to old to do it with that camera and ask if you would make it for him?  It’s an honor to meet, chat & do a portrait of Harry. The to make a portrait of Elizabeth and Barbara is beyond comprehension.  Ya see, only Harry ever made a photo of his beloved Elizabeth and daughter Barbara. I make the photo with all that I am, all the attention and spirit I have.

Barbara gives me their address and ask me to send prints. Elizabeth comes to me and holds both my hands between hers. She says thank you. My Harry has never asked anyone to make this photo and please respect his wishes and not send them all over. I looked her in the eyes and said, it was never an issue my lady.

I made some portraits of Anne Tucker, Robin McNeil and some I may not mention. The platinum prints went to the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Houston Museum of Fine Arts.

As we were walking, Harry said some things. Don, I watched you work, make the photos, even pack Margaret away. ( My Deardorff is named Margaret) You have a focus that is all of you at once and that’s what’s required. Don, as serious as you are there is a mission you must undertake. Making photos is great but teaching is all the more important. You have to carry on the love and chart of being a photographer.

Harry and I looked at each other and both knew we would never be in each other’s company again. Harry turned around and lowered his head and walked to the house. I got in the car and everyone was excited but I was so sad. I felt I lost my dad again.



Life without photography for me is suicide daily. Life with photography keeps me here. Photography & Life go hand in hand. Without one, the other ceases to exist.