Tuesday, December 17, 2013

David Vestal, 1924 - 2013


March 21, 1924  - December 5, 2013 

David Vestal was one of the first people I photographed for my book "Respecting My Elders" back in March 2009. 
I visited him at his home in Bethlehem, Connecticut.

I'm sharing some of his wisdom here, via his thank you note:

                                      June 17, 2013

"Dear Ellen Wallenstein,

Thanks very much for the book. The photos are good and the things people say reveal a lot about them. What a crew. I've spent a few hours going through it: fascinating. I hope, however, that you won't spend the rest of your life photographing your elders as they age and die. Wouldn't that pinch out too soon?

How about photographing what you love and hate seeing? That was Lew Hine : "I wanted to show what had to be changed. I wanted to show what had to be appreciated." Quoted from memory, so probably inexact. But you get the drift. It doesn't have to be about society or art. Anything visible will do.


Mr. Vestal's "Craft of Photography" is a bible for the black & white darkroom. He was an incredible teacher, writer, editor. His book is an encyclopedia of sorts about black & white printing. It is full of information and droll observations.
As was he.

He died December 5, 2013, at his home, so says the Robert Mann Gallery obit.But I haven't seen him mentioned anywhere else. It's been a busy time for photographers' disappearances: Editta Sherman died in November, as did Saul Leiter. And Vestal's death was eclipsed by that of Nelson Mandela. I bet he would think that was just fine.

Rest In Peace