It is always a good practice to go back through the files to find new pictures that were never made available to the public before. Unfortunately, some of the negatives from this shoot for Neiman Marcus in May of 2004 were lost during a flood at the studio on July 25, 2021. The flood was caused by a ruptured water main at the corner of 6th & Bainbridge streets in Philadelphia. We were at ground zero during the event taking on thousands of gallons of water before the Philadelphia Water Department was able to shutdown the water flowing at break neck speed through the ruptured pipe.
It has taken me weeks to sift through the losses of countless negatives that were in the darkroom suite while I was in the process of reviewing negatives from the archives for an upcoming exhibition at the Dupree Gallery opening on October 1, 2021. Unfortunately, some of the images I was considering to exhibit have been destroyed due to catastrophic flood damage to the negatives that were in the process of being printed in the darkroom in consideration for the exhibition.
This color negative of Inez, modeling lingerie for my client Neiman Marcus survived the floodwaters. Approximately, twelve thousand seven hundred and twenty other negatives in color and black and white did not have the same fate.
I was looking through the archives recently and came across a photo of Frank Kelly, the man about town who defined mens fashion and style in Philadelphia during the 1970’s and 80’s. Frank was a style icon that I truly admired. Always dressed to the nines, tall, handsome and seemingly always in a good mood. He worked as a model between gigs in Philadelphia and New York and eventually became one of the most successful fashion salesman in Philadelphia, where his customers felt they could take advice from him on what to wear in a boardroom or casually on the street. He was incredibly charming and charismatic, qualities that defined his ability to sell to a wide range of customers. Frank worked at various boutiques and eventually finished his career at Burberry’s until his retirement. Frank passed away in 2018 at the age of 79.
I visited Ike Hay at his home on many occasions. He was a great teacher of art and design at Millersville University where we first met when I was an undergraduate student from 1974 to 1977. I took several classes with him as he was a great teacher of art and design. Ike’s first love was sculpture, but he had other interests as well. Ike was a collector of Empire furniture and a significant amount of his scholarship was defined by his love for French culture, especially French antiquities and an emphasis on the history of Napoleon Bonaparte, the great French military leader and emperor of France. Ike’s study was a place where we often chatted about art and also life. He became a lifelong friend and confidant until his untimely passing in 2014 at the age of 69. When I began the project of a book of Tableaux Vivants, I selected Ike’s study as one of the nostalgic places I wanted to photograph because of my longstanding friendship with Ike and his family. So one summer day in 1994, I packed up my gear with models in tow and traveled from Philadelphia to Lancaster, Pennsylvania where he lived with his wife Teri and his daughters Miraya and Mistral. On this particular occasion I decided to shoot in black and white and in color, an unusual departure for me at the time.
When I first started my professional career in 1980 as a staff photographer for the behemoth pharmaceutical company, Smithkline & French I was assigned to photograph executives for the company at a sales meeting held in Las Vegas, Nevada. I booked a hotel room at the casino in the over the top Liberace suite. For those readers who are unfamiliar with Liberace, he was a flamboyant pianist, singer and actor who performed regularly in Las Vegas and around the world until his death in 1987. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of the suite, but I remember there was lots of red, and a giant mirror hanging on the ceiling over the master bed! This was quite the introduction to sin city.
After I got settled in, I loaded my camera with film to take a walk around the premises to take some pictures. As I entered an elevator to head down to the lobby, Roberto Duran was in the elevator. I noticed his large infamous “hands of stone” as he was also staying at the hotel for a fight against another great boxing champion, Sugar Ray Leonard. This was the type of place where people watching was also a sport, especially by the outdoor pool where guests enjoyed Pina Coladas while soaking in the blistering desert sun.
This was the casino that became famous not only for the prize fights that were held there, but it was also where a dare devil on a motorcycle by the name of Evil Knievel staged his dramatic leaps in the air over the outdoor fountains at an unimaginable distance. This picture was taken on a walkway leading guests from a parking lot to the main entrance.
During the early 1990’s, I purchased what would eventually become an indispensable piece of equipment for my portrait photography, the ring flash. This unique flash lamp that creates shadowless light on a subjects face at close range intrigued me from the first time I saw it being employed by fashion photographers beginning in the 1960’s. My work as an editorial photographer evolved in part because I developed a style of portraiture based on my use of the ring flash that captivated the attention of various picture editors at large circulation magazines including Vibe, New York, George, Cosmopolitan, Penthouse, and Max magazine in Europe.