It all started with corn. Bill loved his fresh picked corn. He loved the local farmers; he loved the talks with them. But Bill loved to talk to anyone, he had an inquisitive mind.
He was at the local farm stand and noticed a large photograph on the wall of an aerial of a corn maze, the corn maze from the previous year at that very farm. The owner said he was going to get another one printed at a photo lab in Danbury. Bill had no idea we existed so he got in his car and followed the guy to our lab. He walked in looking at the photographs on the wall and with his quiet smile said “You people print black and white?” That was the start of a wonderful relationship. He told us who he was, we were star struck.
Bill was at the beginning of his digital transformation. Nikon would let him play with cameras all the time. He would use them, modify them and then tell them what was wrong with them. He just knew what they needed to do; they needed to be an extension of his eye. But his true love was for film. He grew up on it; it was the most comfortable thing for him. He had many years of film just waiting to be printed.
We started printing black and white, everything from the Beatles, Bobby Kennedy, the civil rights era, movie stars; it was like he had been everywhere at the right time.
Through the years we helped with his book projects, scanning images that had not been seen for years or never seen. It was like opening a time capsule. We spent time together visiting the grave of Robert Capa, just one great photojournalist paying tribute to another. We were invited along to the Eddie Adams workshops, he introduced us to many photographers we had only known by their iconic images and the name under the photo. He would praise us for our services to others that led to many other great projects for photographers. How do you thank a man for that?
So what was it like to print for Bill Eppridge? Scary, exciting, frustrating, but all worth it. He knew what a good print should look like. He taught us that what is at the edge of the image is sometimes even more important then the middle, he taught us how to make a face stand out, how to make a print with soul.
You will be missed Bill Eppridge. Keep on shooting.