Monday, March 31, 2008

People We've Met: G. David Low

I first opened for business in February, 1986. We had a huge Grand Opening party in the studio on Valentine's Day to celebrate, but it would be another two weeks before the studio was actually finished. All the debris was shoveled into the shop area and the equipment was locked in the darkroom, the floor swept and some lights hung, the volume was turned up to ten and the party was on. I didn't make a formal count, but my two partners and I invited literally everyone we knew, and most of them came, so we're fairly confident that there were at least 400 people in our loft that night.

Two months later, the studio was open about six weeks and after shooting a few jobs and waiting for the payments to arrive, I was absolutely penniless, stone cold flat broke. While sweating over how to pay the bills, my phone rang with yet another assignment. It was a really big job and I asked for an advance to be sent overnight via FedEx. The client agreed and I began booking flights, car rentals and hotel rooms.

Perfect timing being what it is, and not being available to me, the check didn't arrive for a few days. So... trusting in G-d and American Express, I hit the road for Amarillo, embarking on the first leg of a whirlwind seventeen city tour (18 days).

A few days later I was driving through Colorado, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, to Lockheed Martin's Denver Aerospace facility. The plant, where they manufacture missiles, rocket boosters, space shuttles and other top-secret stuff, was backed up to the mountain. A good location considering the cold war was still in high gear, you could see the Russians coming for a good thirty miles.

It seemed like everything I wanted to shoot that day was classified and I was keen for a high-tech opportunity. We turned a corner and entered a huge hangar. At the far end was a space shuttle and at my end was a mock-up of the Solar Max satellite. Between the satellite and the shuttle was David Low, an astronaut training for a mission to repair Solar Max.

"Here's a good shot," I thought I'd said to myself. I guess I actually said it aloud because my guide once again said, "Sorry, that's classified." Just then, about midway between where we were and where the shuttle was, a small door opened and a group of second graders entered with their little disposable cameras flashing like nobody's business. "Are you sure I can't shoot this?"

G. David Low, an astronaut for 12 years, flew three shuttle missions, orbiting Earth more than 540 times. His father, George M. Low, was the former NASA director who first suggested to President Kennedy in 1960 that the United States could send an astronaut to walk on the moon within 10 years. David Low passed away last week, he was 52.
Above: Nikon F3, 300mm/f4.0 Nikkor lens, Kodachrome 64 film


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