My grandfather instilled his love of film in me at a young age. Big Earl was a homegrown Cecil B. DeMille. His productions were on the grandest scale. With an impeccable eye for composition, his senses for timing and scene were always spot on. And, what made him an amazing photographer was that he was self-taught.
Big Earl was constantly trying new techniques and equipment in a study of self-improvement. In a corner of his basement was a full-blown post-production suite. On any given weekend, he’d disappear to edit down hours of 16mm film or he’d be creating credit scenes on colored felt backgrounds spelling out the titles with little white plastic letters.
I often wonder what Big Earl would think of all the digital tools we now have for still and video photography. While he always embraced the cutting edge of his time, the term old school was coined specifically for him. Would he get the same pleasure from Photoshop that he did from spending hours in the darkroom? Or, would he find the same joy using an Avid suite for nonlinear editing as he did when hand splicing film?
Carrying a camera everywhere he went was second nature to my grandfather, much like carrying a smartphone is for me today. I have to remind myself continually that I can capture anything that I find of interest. As Big Earl was fond of saying, “Your photos are the essence of how you perceive the world, so keep your eyes open because it’s all in what you see….”