This isn't the Don Sutherland who was my first mentor. But there is a Don Sutherland who made an extraordinary difference in both my life, and my photographic career.
Back in the day when I was in 19 and a live wire, a 35 y/o somehow started keeping tabs on me. We were in the same program, and I don't know what I was doing, but it managed to catch his attention. I was never short of film if Don knew I had a shoot scheduled for that day or night, and as a follow up, I was never short of 8" x 10" paper for my contact sheets, and 11" x 14" paper for the archival prints. I wouldn't be a fraction of the photographer today had I not caught his eye somehow.
And after that term, we parted ways, but stayed in touch as Don traveled the world. In 1980, a package arrived on hot summer day, and it was a book with "auster lilum" on the cover, by a photographer I had never heard of: Robert Mapplethorpe. I devoured every page. Again and again and again. And again. Today its condition would be considered poor because I thumbed through it so many times, even though I was able to get the book autographed by Mr Mapplethorpe at The Wadsworth Atheneum in the early 80s.
To this day, some thirty years later, I still have an email and telephone relationship with the same man who thought I "had it" when I thought I was just a crazy photography student.
My vision has sharpened over the years, and Don has continued to mentor me, and encourage me to "get my work put into a book" even telling me how my work fairs against the photographers of the day.
Thirty years, and saying thank pales by comparison of all the assistance, care, mentoring and critical information which has made me into the photographer I am today.
But, it's Donald Sutherland's birthday. Just the wrong one.
Labels: Donald Sutherland, Robert Mapplethorpe