Tag Archives: black & white photography

Thoughts For a New Year

I’m loving some Frederick Buechner today.

“Life is grace. Sleep is forgiveness. The night absolves. Darkness wipes the slate clean, not spotless to be sure, but clean enough for another day’s chalking.”
― Frederick Buechner

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Remembering John Connally Too

As the Kennedys and Texas Governor John Connally and his wife got into a limousine fifty years ago today, Connally’s wife said to the President, “…you can’t say that Dallas doesn’t love you.” A happy, noisy crowd greeted the car at the airport.

Kennedy’s assassination holds a unique space in “public memory” for those of us coming of age in 1963. Not always as well remembered was Governor Connally, sitting in the front seat of the same car severely wounded.

In March of 1977 John Connally visited Wheaton College to speak with students. At the time it seemed to me that it was a pretty small group of students that showed up considering his stature as a witness to such a significant historical event. Maybe history is not important to a lot of 20 year olds.

I took a few photos of Connally speaking in what was then the dining hall at Wheaton. I guess it was just good to see someone who had been so close to Kennedy on that day.

John Connally who was injured during the Kennedy assassination speaks to Wheaton (IL) College students in 1977

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Season’s Greetings to All


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The Mojo Man

When I was young I lived in a small town in the deep south. Occasionally my father would walk me down the long, winding path to a back-woods shack that served as the area’s juke joint. As I watched my father dance and drink his troubles away with his friends, it must have presented a funny picture to anyone that cared to look – a four-year-old white boy sitting in the corner watching his dad and a room full of black men & women dancing to a blues band. This may not exactly be Norman Rockwell’s picture of the early 1950’s, but it was my picture.

The reality of this is that I remember very little of it. Although my mother filled in the details many years later, my memories of those occasions were of the music itself.

Even to a four-year old the blues was as seductive as it was sad. In spite of its sad name this predictable and stylized American music form remains for me a source of optimism. I think this is its seduction. Its only purpose is to make people feel good by creating courage from helplessness.

In 1976 – more than twenty years after my juke joint experiences – I revisited the blues as I photographed Muddy Waters at one of his last concerts. He, Pinetop Perkins – currently the oldest performing bluesman at 96 – and their band at the time held a concert in a small park in Water’s hometown of Westmont, Illinois.

Although “The Mojo Man” needed the help of fans and friends to get off the stage after the concert, his voice was strong and clear as he sang most of the songs that made him an inspiration to not only several generations of rock & roll performers, but to a young photographer.


Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters with his band

Muddy Waters and his band

Pinetop Perkins

Westmont, IL crowd enjoying Muddy Waters and his band

The Mojo Man, Muddy Waters

Muddy Waters' hand and guitar

Muddy Waters

Crowd enjoying Muddy Waters in Westmont, IL

Getting help from friends and fans after Muddy Waters concert

Muddy Waters talks with friends and fans after concert

Holiday Inn

Pinetop Perkins

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Merry Christmas


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You and Me

Noah will be 13 months old tomorrow. The photo below was taken when he was three days old – literally a lifetime ago. I’ve pretty much filled up a hard drive with photos of him I’ve taken over those months.

I like this one because it shows not only the vulnerability of the son but of the father as well. Nose-to-nose is a posture that says “you and me.” Whether it’s football teams facing each other, a couple about to kiss, or a father cradling his son’s head, no one else matters at this moment.


You and Me

You and Me

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A Final Portrait

Not long before he died, Ken Taylor needed a new photograph of himself for a magazine. He apologized for the brevity of our time together and the lack of an “inspired” location – his office.

It was not unlike him to spend our time together worrying about how he should pose. This session, like most with him, was over before he thought it had begun. It was easy to capture images of this truly humble man.

I had photographed him a number of times over the years and I suspected that this would be our last shoot together. I could not feel badly that he didn’t wish to spend more moments of what little time he had having his picture taken.

This particular photo has not been published before and I like it because – although a silhouette – it reveals much about his personality and his life. As the author of the Living Bible he could have been a very proud man. Instead he remains a humble servant in the shadows of the God he represents.


Ken Taylor

Ken Taylor

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