LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
When Don Mccullin anD
eugene Richards sat down for
a conversation, i planned to set
up the mics, switch on the tape
recorder, and then leave them
alone. The idea behind this special heroes and Mentors issue
was that two photographers
would ask each other questions that journalists like me would never think of.
however, Mccullin and Richards insisted i stay. They
were surprisingly shy, and thought they might need
me to prod them with questions. So i asked: “how did
you two meet?” and then i didn’t need to say another
word as i listened to them talk for the next two hours,
unprompted, about journalistic ethics, alfred Stieglitz,
family, relationships, trauma, anger, fear, personal regrets and professional frustrations. i can’t think of any
other two hours i’ve enjoyed or appreciated more in
my career at PDN.
© brian bloom
When senior editor conor Risch first came up
with the idea of bringing together photographers
and the artists who have inspired their work, we as-
sumed each pair would talk to each other as fellow
practitioners. in fact, they often talked to each other
as people. Going through the tapes and transcripts, i
learned a little about how they shoot pictures, but i
learned much more about what their decision to be-
come photographers has meant to their lives. i also
discovered how they feel about being role models,
teachers, parents, sons or daughters and lovers. like
most of us, they wrestle with the challenge of how to
reconcile a fulfilling life and a meaningful career.
their legacies are also their many acts of kindness.
We shouldn’t be surprised that photographers
whose best work brought us into the lives of other
people were compassionate and empathetic. But our
culture tends to romanticize artists who sacrifice everything for their work. When we talk about heroes
and influential trailblazers, we’re talking about the inspiration we derive from the work they produce, not
the lives they live. as we struggle to do well in both our
lives and our work, maybe we need to look for different
kinds of inspiration. of the many tributes written to
hetherington and hondros, i keep thinking about what
photographer James Pomerantz wrote on his Web site,
a Photo Student, the morning after their deaths: “if
you want to make a difference in the world but can’t
make images as powerful as Tim’s or chris’s or aren’t
as brave and committed as they were, you can start
much closer to home by living with the generosity of
spirit that they both displayed to everyone who had
the honor of meeting them. “ Well said.
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