Vestal was the single most important influence on my photography, and my writing, for that matter. I never formally studied with him, but began to read his magazine columns back in the early seventies or late sixties. At one point I could probably have recited most of "The Craft of Photography."
In the mid-seventies I was waiting for the bus to New York for some commercial portfolio presentations when I decided I had to go talk to another passenger in a dark raincoat. I said that he looked remarkably like the photographer David Vestal. He replied, "why, that's because I am David Vestal."
He was, despite his active teaching career, a very private and quiet individual. His famously epigrammatic writing style was also the way he spoke. When I teach, I can't help quoting David frequently, because once he had said something, it was impossible to think of a better way to say it.
Isfahan, Iran, 1969
I was lucky enough to get feedback from David on several of my shows of photographs and in private meetings where he reviewed prints that I brought. When he saw a print of this picture for the first time, without missing a beat he said, "hard way to make a living."