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A Tribute to a Gentleman and a Pro (Arnold J. Kaplan – 1916 – 2013)

Waits River, Vermont (an Arnold J. Kaplan "Photo-Scenic" iconic image) Copyright  2005  Andy Richards

Waits River, Vermont
(an Arnold J. Kaplan “Photo-Scenic” iconic image)
Copyright 2005 Andy Richards

My plan was to move on to the Streets of Venice this week, with some more of the images I made during my 4 days in Venice in September. But sometimes things don’t go as planned.

In 2006, I returned to Vermont for the first time in 20 years to photograph fall foliage. I needed to do some “homework” to make sure I was ready to make the best use of my time there. Surprisingly, as much wealth of information as there is online these days, there is still not much “nitty gritty” guidebook type information for most places for aspiring photographers. After a lot of searching and research, I found one website (Scenes of Vermont) and one, “old school” mimeograph-style “pamphlet” on photographing Vermont.

When I “met” Arnold, he was 94 years old, and still regularly shooting, lecturing, traveling and teaching!

But oh, what a gem the pamphlet was. Arnold John Kaplan, born 97 years ago in 1926, wrote and self-published his handbook: “How to Find (and photograph) The Photo-Scenics in Vermont,” in 1973, coining the term “photo-scenics” in the process. The handbook has been updated and re-printed 5 times since, and is still available in its original format from the “Guidebooks” page of his website. I discovered the book just days before we were scheduled to leave for Vermont and the literature noted that it might take several days to get it. I wrote to Arnold by e-mail and asked if there was a way to get it expedited. He responded immediately in the polite and friendly manner that only Arnold could, and 2 days later, it was in my mailbox. I used it almost exclusively and after the trip, corresponded a couple times with Arnold about some changes in conditions.

Peacham, Vermont (an Arnold J. Kaplan iconic "Photo-Scenic") Copyright 2005  Andy Richards

Peacham, Vermont
(an Arnold J. Kaplan iconic “Photo-Scenic”)
Copyright 2005 Andy Richards

While Arnold’s book is perhaps still the seminal print book on photographing Vermont, his book inspired me to write and publish my own ebook, “Photographing Vermont’s Fall Foliage: Where to Find the Iconic Shots,” which is available on the blog here, by clicking the link in the upper left. As I was writing the book, a mutual acquaintance, Vermont enthusiast and photographer met Arnold at a function, and mentioned my near-worshipful respect for Arnold and his work. The upshot: Arnold and I communicated directly, became friends, and Arnold did me the ultimate honor of writing the foreword for my e-book.

Arnold was an inspiration for me both as a photographer and as a man, who lived life richly, boldly and joyfully

What I learned during our too short friendship, from back and forth e-mails, was that Arnold was a consummate, talented professional photographer, and more than that, a genuine gentleman. What really blew me away, though, was that when I met him, Arnold was 94 years old and was still going strong, still traveling, photographing, speaking, teaching and writing! To the best of my knowledge, he was still doing most of these things right up until his death this past week.  Arnold was not one to shy away from change.  He embraced digital photography early on, and at the time of his death he was shooting with a Canon DSLR.  He produced digital slide shows and teaching aids for his classes and speaking engagements.

Over the years, I have been asked about who has been an inspiration to me as a photographer. Arnold is always atop my list of several who inspired (and continue to inspire) me. And Arnold was an inspiration not only as a photographer, but as a man, who lived life richly, boldly and joyfully; and as an example to follow.

Hillside Acres; West Barnett, Vermont (an Arnold J. Kaplan iconic "Photo-Scenic") Copyright 2006  Andy Richards

Hillside Acres; West Barnett, Vermont
(an Arnold J. Kaplan iconic “Photo-Scenic”)
Copyright 2006 Andy Richards

Please take a few moments and visit Arnold’s Website, where there is a nice tribute to his life and photography, and some of his top-drawer photography!

Arnold: we will miss you!

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2 Responses

  1. “Dont’ cry because something is over. Smile because it happened.” — Doctor Seuss.

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