George Hitchcock, Poet, Santa Cruz 1973

I made this photograph when I was twenty years old. I had asked Rita Bottoms, the Director of Special Collections at the McHenry Library at UC Santa Cruz for her suggestions on who I should meet and photograph. I was given a list of “movers and shakers” in Santa Cruz who had a connection with the University, and one of the first people I met was the poet, George Hitchcock.

Thinking back on the few hours I spent with him, I realize how much he gave to me in that short time. I was young and a bit nervous, and he told me stories of Edward Weston and put me at ease.

I have to think that an excellent teacher is able to sense what a student needs, and offer the information in such a way that it is stored quietly beneath the surface and then can be summoned when needed. Friends have asked me why I am able to approach strangers and am comfortable asking to make their portraits; now I wonder was it because I was shown how in my early meetings with teachers who were as perceptive and generous as George Hitchcock?

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