Spinning My Wheels

A couple of times a year I get requests that take me a little by surprise for images in my files. The call I got from SPIN magazine earlier this year may take the cake. You’ll find two of my black and white photos of former “sex-biz entrepreneur” (as SPIN calls him) Dennis Sobin in May’s issue of the magazine. I chose Dennis as a photo subject for a workshop I was taking with renowned photojournalist David Turnley back in 2003. I had the idea in my head that I wanted to photograph a recently released prisoner and document his reintegration into society. A few calls to non-profit organizations in the D.C. area (where I was living and working at the time) led me to Dennis. I shot Dennis on many occasions for about a month before we agreed in my workshop that he wasn’t the ideal subject. It’s not that he wasn’t interesting because boy, if you read the story in SPIN, you’ll see that he isdennis sobinfar from dull, but he wasn’t really doing anything that made for great photos. I eventually switched to a more active and photogenic subject, but Dennis ended up using an image I took of him on his web site, which is how SPIN tracked me down. (Dennis was briefly reincarcerated in late 2008 and because he was still in jail, I guess obtaining current photos of him would have been difficult.) The day SPIN called I told them, “Yes, I have loads of slides of him I’d be happy to send you.” Well, of course, when I actually started looking for the slides, I kept turning up empty handed. I was beside myself. Could I have actually thrown out photos I took? I just couldn’t believe I would do that. I never throw out images…and yet…they were nowhere to be found. Just when I was about to give up, I remembered one last stash of photos. I delved into a closet that contains a stack of photo albums, and, as luck would have it, a slew of slide boxes with the images of Dennis. It just goes to show that images you take may have a purpose years down the line. Whether they be digital files that take up hard drive space or tangible film that fills up shelves in a cabinet, keep them! And better yet, keep them somewhere where you can find them easily.

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