Is He Dealing with a Full Deck of Cards?


I thought of you over the weekend too. I always wake up to the radio every morning, except Sunday to NPR. I particularly like Saturday morning, with Scott Simon. This past weekend, as I am sure you know, he interviewed Mike Mitchell about his Beatles work. It was a good interview, nice to hear Mike’s voice and what he had to say. I told Carter that I knew the person behind that voice and he asked me how. I said it was a rather chance meeting and an amazing little story, at least to me. I had already done my Washington work and really just starting my photo journey. I thought I was going to grad school that year, but no one accepted me. So I needed a job. Some one told to try looking for a job as an assistant. I had no clue how to do that. What did we do before the internet? How did we connect? Well I had this calendar, I think I still have it, the one that Stephenson Printing put out every year that had some of the best photos being done in town by the best photographers. You remember that? I was later in it a couple of times. It was a pretty cool thing. Well I thought, these are good folks to talk to first and I made a short list of 5 that I would call upon and see if I could get a job. In that group, that year, I thought Mike’s work was the best. Mike was the first and only call I made. He said to stop by his studio. He like my DC work, said it well composed. He liked my use of infrared film, as he was using it a lot at that time. And I really liked his work. And then he asked me this question. How did I feel about being an assistant after being a shooter? He called me a shooter, I thought that was pretty cool. I told I had no problem with being an assistant, that I had a lot to learn. I was quite serious about that. Then he picked up the phone and called you. You chatted a bit. He hung up and asked me if I could work with you the next day or so. I said sure and he gave me your number. Some time later I found out from either you or Mike, that the key question you asked Mike over the phone was “Is he dealing with a full deck of cards?”. The first time I met you, I took along my portfolio, that you never looked at. You just asked me if I knew how to load a Hasseblad? No. Do you know how to use a Speedotron? No? Balcars? No. No problem you said, I’ll teach you.  I schlepped things around, did everything you asked me to do, and watched. I was amazed, it was the most fun I had had in a long time. Apparently it went well, and you asked me if I was free to go to New Orleans the next week. And Baltimore after that, then back to DC and  then off to Boston. By then I knew how to load a Hasseblad and what watt seconds meant. But it was 2 months before you looked at my portfolio. By then it was just an after thought. So next time you see Mike, tell him thank you for me. For taking the time to talk to me and introducing me to you.