In the early ‘90’s, I was the house photographer at Melody Fair, a local theater. I shot about 70 or 80 shows over the course of two summers. Worst paying job I ever had…and the most fun job I ever had. I would have done it for free. I had a full access pass and met everyone from Jerry Seinfeld to James Brown to Wynonna Judd.
One of the shows I shot was Johnny Cash. So I’m standing backstage waiting for the show to start and it’s just me, Johnny, and some other guy that Johnny’s talking to. All of a sudden, Johnny turns to me and does this…he puts his hand out to me and says, “Hello, I’m Johnny Cash”, in that way that only he could say that.
Now there’s an unwritten rule in photography, regarding portraiture, that says, treat the famous like they’re regular people, and treat regular people like they’re famous. I was never star-struck by any of the performers and I always addressed the stars by their first name. So I shook Johnny’s hand and said, “It’s nice to meet you Mr. Cash”.
Somehow that just felt right. There was just something a little different and a little special about that guy…and I’m glad I got to shake his hand.