Friday, September 01, 2006

A Chance Encounter - My Heroes (cont.)

" I know that the accident of my being a photographer has made my life possible." Richard Avedon It was late October of 1984. I was walking north on Leroux Street in Flagstaff, Arizona. I had an appointment with the owner of a camera store.

A small man with a great volume of black and silver hair and dark intense eyes passed by walking south. He looked very familiar but I couldn't place him. As I waited inside the store it hit me. "I've got to go', I said as my appointment approached. 'I just saw Richard Avedon." I don't remember his exact response but it was something like, "Could you spare a little of whatever it is you're smoking?" I ran out of the camera store and looked south, he was gone.

I quickly began a search of each shop window until I found him in a Native American Art Gallery. I entered and pretended to be interested in making a purchase all the while watching him. A woman that I had not seen when I entered finally caught my eye. She was watching me watch him. She was smiling and seemed very amused by my behavior. I mouthed the question, "Is that Richard Avedon?" Her head moved slowly up and down. Then she mouthed "Would you like to meet him?"

After he had completed his purchase the lady, who turned out to be his cousin, introduced us. It was one of the few times in my life that, after hello, I couldn't think of anything to say. Here stood one of my heroes, an icon of photography and although I easily had a hundred questions somewhere in my head, none would pass my lips.

He was gracious and kind and completely carried our five minute conversation. The thing I will most remember about him were his eyes. Their intensity and focus. You felt as though you had his complete attention. For a moment I believe I felt a little of what his subjects may have felt.

To learn more Richard Avedon and see some of the most interesting images ever captured on film click here.