Especially someone that you really respect, admire, and want to be like. Who exemplifies standards that you grew up with, and that you don’t see much in journalism anymore.
Well, the photographer is me, and the photographer is Al Clayton.
You might know him for his snake-handling documentary, or for his portraits of rural poverty, or maybe for his funky photos of dead animals.
Al has done so much for photography, for the South …. and I know that I don’t even know 1 percent of it.
Even now, he mentors kids at the local high school. That’s how I got to meet him – we worked together with the students on the Smokey Hollow project.
The chance to photograph him came up as part of the “Faces of North Georgia” project that Sara Lindkrantz and I are doing. Sara and I set up a portable studio at the Summer Solstice Celebration in Jasper, and Al showed up.
I dragged him over and demanded that Sara shoot his portrait. Al turned his back on our little studio set-up. He pulled up a folding chair next to the glass door and positioned himself in the natural light. I held up the drop cloth behind him, and it turned out nice.
Later, when he was talking to Sara, telling stories, I laid on my back on the floor and shot candids of him. Not the most flattering angle, but I wanted him to forget I was there.
I love to just sit and listen to him tell stories, so that is what I was trying to capture here.