Friday, December 06, 2013

David Vestal

I've just learned that David Vestal has died.

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."


Scott Kirkpatrick said...

I suspected that he was ill since his monthly newsletter stopped coming in the mail last summer. But up until then he was lively as ever, with new as well as old pictures appearing in each issue, and indications that he was still involved with shows and teaching here and in Europe.


John Sarsgard said...

I never met him but will certainly miss him. Hard way to make a living...for the photographer or the animal in this photo?

Carl said...

John, I was on a third year college traveling scholarship, not making a living. So it must have been the camel.