Today’s Archive Image: Danny Casper 2002

Every photographer or photojournalist has had assignments they seem to remember with perfect clarity whether it was last month, last year or a lifetime ago. I remember my time with Danny Casper with a clarity that is absent when I think of other assignments shot for the dozen or so different newspapers I have contributed to at one time or another. I remember the state of his poverty-worn home, a trailer as old as he, his story of what happened to him as a truck driver when he returned from his military tour in Vietnam. I remember his acute sensitivity to light as a result of the medication he was prescribed to treat cancer. I remember being in his trailer and having to dial up the ISO to 1600 on my Nikon D1H, a camera not known for it’s capacity in low light. I remember shooting this image of Danny in his doorway on my way out, camera still set at 1600 at f2.8. It was lucky I didn’t end up with something blown out and unusable. I look at this image, one that hangs on my wall ten years later, and I see the perfect portrait subject, unaware of the camera and totally unconscious of his appearance. This remains one of my favourite images from my summer in Spokane at the Spokesman-Review in 2002 and remains my favourite of the portraits I have shot. No mater how strong technically or creatively appealing any portrait since, Danny Casper is the bar by which I measure any portrait I make and at the worst of times Danny Casper is the mirror in which I see myself in 20 years wondering what has become of my life.

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