The Digital Journalist

Photograph by William Claxton


Claxton Interview: Richard Lang

Richard and I met when we were teenagers. He was seriously into photography. I had always loved the art but knew little about how to perform it well. Dick was a born scientist. He was a near genius at math, physics, and chemistry. We would spend a lot of time together during summer vacations. Besides photography projects with me, Dick always had a construction under way, whether it was to build a brick wall around his mother's garden or to undertake the digging of a swimming pool. There wasn't anything that he couldn't build, He was husky, strong, and thrived on hard work. After dinner Dick would relax, lying back on the couch listening to records or watching television. Often his mother Ruth would call out, "Dick, make us some fudge," or "How about a chocolate cake!" Dick would happily leap up from the couch, go into the kitchen and whip up something great that the whole family would enjoy.

Being the scientist that he was, he taught me all the technical ins and outs of the chemistry of photography and the physics of lenses. He was a tough teacher. I had to learn the process properly. He wouldn't let me slide by on any aspect of the craft. On summer vacations, we began a neighborhood photo business, weddings, parties, and portraits. As a result of our hard work, we built a state-of-the-art darkroom. Actually, Dick did most of the construction. We developed film and made prints into the early hours of the morning while listening to our favorite big bands like Duke Ellington, Glenn Miller, and Tommy Dorsey.

Although I was studying hard at UCLA, my real love was shooting pictures and then printing them. The darkroom virtually became my den for introspection, my sanctuary from the sturm and drang of everyday life. Not only was it a place to ponder, the payoff was handmade, tangible photographic prints that I was proud to show to my family and friends.

I will always be grateful to Dick for teaching me my craft and art. He went on to become a successful building contractor creating luxury homes in the beautiful country around Sequoia National Forest in central California.

Books by William Claxton
along with many others, are
available at Barnes &

Send us your Comments
Join our Mailing List
Visit Willian Claxton's website: