Tag Archives: Mentor

the cheepest thing you’ll ever buy

My lunch hour yesterday consisted of running to the bar to snag a picture of a dart board and then racing downtown to get a shot of the arch. (I’ll explain later).

This all made me remember my adviser back in college who also was my professor for the touchier-feelier credits that were, (at least then), part of the Webster-U photography program.

John Hilgert and I had a fondly loathsome respect for one another.

I thought his personal work at the time was pretentiously boring… but beautiful. (*a lot of black and white shots of hands holding root vegetables, sticks and what-not)…

He thought my work was slick and soulless… but beautiful. (*a lot of composites and other tweaked images done on the computer using a vaguely known program at the time called “PhotoShop 2.0”.).

We’d grouse at each-other but it never got hostile… and that teacher / student respect relationship was never compromised.

He taught me the zone system method of metering.

He instilled a guilt trip that persists to this day if I touch the cropping tool…. “Compose in-frame… Composing in the darkroom is cheating”.

Back when it meant something… His other famous quote I can remember: “Just shoot and don’t worry about your damn film.. it’s the cheapest thing you’ll ever buy in this craft”

Johnny was also notorious for mind-fuck assignments, his most notorious: “Go shoot the Arch”…. (something that’s been photographed to the point of cliche).

So… there I was standing at the base of our beloved landmark trying to make a buck and just couldn’t wipe the grin off my face remembering that pretentious bastard.

John Hilgert died shortly after the turn of the new millennium.

I miss him.

Oh look a chicken.