In a time long ago (the early '70s), and a place far away (the 28th floor of the Time and Life Building), two young photojournalists (Dirck Halstead and Bill Pierce), were given offices one aisle away from the offices of two old pro's (Alfred Eisenstaedt and Carl Mydans).
While the two young photographers talked about newly acquired equipment, their recent triumphs and themselves, the two old photographers talked about how fascinating or important they found their subjects.
Of course, it wasn't all just photography, photography, photography. Occasionally, Eisie would move to the photographers' lounge and do his famous one-handed push-ups. A few years into the future, his doctor would ban Eisie from doing push-ups, but, for now, these were more innocent times and the oldest could still triumph over us in so many ways.
He once said, it was much easier for him and his LIFE magazine colleagues to achieve positive public recognition than it was for Dirck's and my generation. Actually, what he said was, "How can anybody tell you're good photographers when they publish your pictures so small?" He said this without a single trace of triumph or ego, but rather, a genuine sadness.
From that moment on, I was a fan of Eisie, as much as Eisie's pictures.
Probably the harshest criticism I ever received was not from an editor, but from Eisie. I have been told I messed up a good many times, but never as accurately, effectively and painfully as I was by Eisie. After I left TIME magazine and the 28th floor, and near the end of Eisie's life, he saw me on a street in New York and said, "Why don't you visit me anymore?"
At his death, and in the many tributes that followed it, a number of people said that though Eisie had passed on, his pictures would live forever. I am sure they will. But that does not make up for the fact that Eisie is gone.
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