doug menuez 2.0: go fast, don’t crash

March 23, 2009, 2:39 pm
Filed under: Field Notes & Essays


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Classic master/grasshopper moment: Pirkle Jones, legendary documentary photographer and teacher leaning over my prints at the start of our first class at the SF Art Institute. Silence, then “Hmmm, somebody needs to learn how to spot!” Stung to the core, devastated, struggling to keep my 19-year-old game face on, I tried a comeback. But we all learned in short order there was no defense for anything less than excellence with Pirkle. He’d been trained by Ansel and Dorothea and other masters of 20th century American photography. The only option was to take it onboard and strive to do better, period.

He was tough, he was smart, humble and a powerful force you had to respect. I could not have had a better, or more difficult, teacher. He had such integrity and built a life for himself according to his values and vision. His work stands the test of time and speaks with eloquence for those who cannot. He inspired a generation or three of passionate photographers and we will all miss him.

From today’s NYT:
Pirkle Jones, Photojournalist, Dies at 95 – Obituary (Obit) –

I just found this 1976 image sent from a former classmate– Pirkle leading a critique. I’m the kid in the center.


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