Field notes: Photographic memory

IMG_0026— Good morning, and thanks to all who have written me recently. Stay tuned for some photography stories below.

— Ordinary dawn today, I suppose, but it looked cheery enough to get me outside with a new point-and-shoot to take a picture. Looking northeast; Santa Fe 25-or-so miles over the ridge.

— I know these point-and-shoot photos, with little thought to composition or light, other than, “Heh, that looks cool,” probably drive all my photographer friends nuts. So, I will confess to always having been an undisciplined, seat-of-the-pants learner. One of these days, I might con one of you into a lesson. I never was really interested in taking my own pictures until the iPhone, which I could simply tuck into my pocket on every walk. But the iPhone doesn’t yet do justice for mountains and distant clouds, so I’ve invested in a little red Canon.

— These photography thoughts are all a big coincidence, linked by two developments yesterday. First, I heard from old friend Jeff Moscow, who I worked with when he was a photographer for The New Mexican in the mid-1970s and who is now a physician and researcher with the National Cancer Institute. Next, I got the news alert from Dan Boyd and Deborah Baker of the Journal’s Capitol Bureau that state Sen. Phil Griego had resigned from the Senate amid an ethics investigation. This triggered playback of several Jeff Moscow stories.

— Jeff was — and is — a fine photographer. But he was so intense on the job as a photographer for The New Mexican that working with him often became adventurous if not hazardous duty.

— The Griego resignation reminded me of the last mid-session resignation in 1975. State Sen. Anthony Lucero’s case somehow ended up in the old Santa Fe County Courthouse, adjacent to the Palace Restaurant and bar. After a day’s hearing, Lucero and a phalanx of family members decided to exit the courthouse through a back door. But Jeff and I, covering the event as photographer and reporter, were waiting for them as their media-hating wedge hurried down the hallway. Jeff suggested that I stand in front of him to ensure that he could get off a shot. I foolishly agreed. I think at least one fist flew from the family as I shielded my clever photographer friend. Fortunately, it was deflected or did not land. I’m sure Jeff, as usual, got the picture. I have never again agreed to stand in front of a photographer. (Nor, as I did once with the famous Tony O’Brien of Santa Fe, try to cover a bottle and rock throwing melee in the dark with his camera’s flash repeatedly lighting up our position).

— This one appeared in the pages of The New Mexican. Intrepid Associated Press writer Larry Calloway — later an editor and columnist for the Journal — got wind that two famous lobbyist/operator types had a card game going in an empty committee room on the third floor the Capitol during a legislative session. (This was in the day when newspapers had space for portraits and features). I think I’ve got this right: Larry and Jeff lined up outside the room. Larry pushed open the door. Jeff snapped a shot, catching the two startled card players, looking at the camera, cards in hand. One was a former state senator and a Mormon. The other was one of Albuquerque’s best-known criminal lawyers and a pal of the governor. I don’t know what ensued after Jeff’s shutter captured the scene.

— Jeff and I got an assignment — or Jeff cooked it up — to do a photo story with words on people who work at night. It really was Jeff’s story, but I chafed at some of his more aggressive ideas. After midnight, and probably closer to 2 a.m., we ended up at Tiny’s Lounge in Santa Fe. Without permission, as I recall, camera-bearing Jeff slipped behind the bar and prepare to take some head-on shots of guys staring down into their last beers of the night, hiding out from wives or something else — I guess with veteran bartender Arkie somewhere in the frame. My mind’s eye might embellish when I recall the thick arm and big hand of a surprised and surly patron suddenly shooting out for Jeff’s throat, but I am pretty sure that the equivalent happened. Jeff and I stayed friends, but I think I parted ways with him on that assignment about dawn on the Plaza, before we got back to the office. I also recall that the photos ended up being better than the words.

One thought

  1. We walked in the room. The Mormon, a large healthy state senator (R), grabbed Jeff’s camera and raised it to either bash Jeff or slam the cam to the floor. I intervened with a comment. The Mormon, as I heard, pleaded with the New Mexican not to run the picture, and was convincing. The photo however took on a life of its own.

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