Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1974
My first published photograph appeared in an international non-profit organization’s newsletter when I was in high school. I received no payment for the use.
My second published picture, above, was of an overturned truck carrying forty cows. You have to start somewhere. Why not with dead cows?
I took the picture on a steamy Sunday afternoon in late June, when the Mid-Atlantic takes on more of the humid feel of, say, Southeast Asia. Sensible people—Richmond was full of them in those days; you recognized them because they wore seersucker in the summer and, legend has it, never perspired—were indoors or under the shade of a tree. I, having no common sense and living in a damp, un-air conditioned basement apartment, was out in the sun taking pictures.
I was on my way home from taking pictures at a festival in Chimborazo Park when I saw the accident from an overpass. I quickly found a place to park and ran back onto the bridge and snapped the picture.
I took my film to the newspaper building. One of the security guards took my film and my name and address and said they’d get the negatives back to me.
When I went out to the street the next morning to get the paper, I was pleased to find my picture above the fold on the front page of the main news section. Hundreds of thousand or so other people around Virginia also saw it. I did not become an overnight sensation, however. It turns out that pictures of overturned cattle trucks are not the makings of greatness.
But quite by surprise I got my negatives and a check for $100 in the mail the next week. That proved a lot more useful than celebrity.