August 14, 2009

Two Photographers Named Cornell



      It was July 2002, a time I recall because everyone was riveted to the television news watching reports of the Quecreek (PA) mine disaster (QUECREEK MINE DISASTER: A 21st Century Historical Site in Somerset County, PA).  I was sitting in my sister Kitty’s New Jersey living room watching the successful but dramatic rescue, located just up the mountain from my Laurel Mountain Borough (PA) home, while scanning a trunk full of photographs taken by my father—his Navy buddies, aerial views of different countries, creative photo compositions. As I recall, it was a tremendously hot day, and I had to sit in front of fans while working.

     Before I came to this task, several of my photos had been “feature photos” in the Fay West section of the Greensburg (PA) Tribune Review. One was a distant view of Mt. Pleasant (PA) from Three Mile Hill (which bottoms out in Laurelville) on Route 31, descending downwards towards Bullskin Township. The sunset scene created a view of Mt. Pleasant in full flame, burning to a crisp. It was surrealistic, making me wonder if the town really was on fire.

     I wondered, as I quickly scanned my father’s photographs, whether—or what—my father had contributed to my photographic skill, noted by editors in Greensburg as well as my Fay West editor, Ed Cope (now working as head photographer at the Herald Standard in Uniontown), who is, himself, a great photographer.

     This could be a nature versus nurture debate. Although I knew my father was a photographer, his involvement in my life had been minimal, and ended at my age four. Because of his sparse presence,  I only have a few photos that he took of my sister and I.

     Yet, at a very early age, before I knew he was a Chief Naval Photographer, I enjoyed taking pictures—especially humorous ones. One of my first pictures was of my mother napping on the couch. I placed a potty seat insert on her head for a hat, and snapped the photo. ( )

     I don’t intend to (more…)

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