Charles Allen Wright by Kirk Tuck for Private Clubs Magazine.

This is an image of Charles Allen Wright, a very famous Texas Lawyer. I shot it in his office at the University of Texas at Austin Law School. I used several different cameras on my editorial photo assignment but this image is from a Rolleiflex twin lens camera with a 2.8 Planar lens.

The camera could shoot twelve images on a roll. 

I used an old, manual, Vivitar 285 flash in a small white umbrella. 

I connected it with a cable because we didn't have inexpensive radio slaves at the time.

In a strange role reversal my most important mentor, Wyatt McSpadden, came along with me as my assistant. 

After we finished up we headed back to the studio to unload and I went into the darkroom and developed the ten shot rolls of 120 film from the shoot.

I made contact sheets and sent them, via Federal Express, to the magazine. 

The art director at the magazine circle one image and sent that contact sheet back.

I printed three or four variations of the image on fiber based, double weight paper and sent the resulting prints back to the art director via Federal Express. 

The image ran as a half page illustration in the magazine.

I was thrilled. 

A few years later I was showing my portfolio to someone at an outdoor cafĂ©. 
A well dressed woman walked past, saw this image in the portfolio and stopped. 
She said, "He was the greatest influence in my entire life." 

The art director I was showing the portfolio to was surprised. 


Henk said...

The hands, what's with his hands?
I only see the hands when I look at this image and wonder why you shot the man this way?


Anonymous said...

And nowadays you can use the online service like proofhq.com.


Julian said...

Just when I think I'm getting better at composition I see a picture like this one. It's crooked, but that's strangely unobtrusive, and only makes the portrait better. Now that's skill! A very nice portrait.

Anonymous said...

Love this portrait. The background, hands (how they hold the pencil) and eye contact are great.

Personally I much prefer these square format film portraits and informal portraits of your friends in the wild to the meticulously lit studio ones.

The craft in all your work is clear.

The life in these ones is really interesting.


Steve said...


Anonymous said...

I realize this was shot in the pre-digial era, but please clone out whatever that weird object (an award?) on the bookshelf is that jabs directly into his head.

Sorry. but I find that so distracting that it completely spoils the shot for me.

Kirk Tuck said...

No. Absolutely not. The image is exactly as I wanted it to be. If you don't like it don't look at it.

Anonymous said...


I am one of your biggest fans, but the bookcase growing out of the guy's head is lost on me.

If it is exactly the way you wanted it to be, could you please explain the rationale for putting it there?

And is that the photo that they actually published?

Jon Hoffmann said...

Always good to see your medium format film work. Are you missing it?

Kirk Tuck said...

I mistakenly erased a comment from Wyatt. He is correct in saying that we were able to squeeze 12 shots out of every roll. And that each one was a work of art. Sorry for the accidental erasure...

Kirk Tuck said...

To anonymous, I've read for years and years about all the things you are either supposed to do or not do to make good photos. "Shoot with the sun over your shoulder!" "Don't have trees, telephone poles, or anything else vertical behind the subject's head!" "Everything has to be sharp." "Rule of thirds." The secret of doing photography as anything that resembles more than a mechanical craft is the willingness to break rules. I like the vertical ribbon behind C.A.W. because it anchors him to the top of the frame. That's it.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for your comments on the rationale behind the shot. I looked at the shot again today, and actually saw something much different than simply anchoring the shot to the top of the frame.

It seems to me that the bookcase does grow out of his head, anchoring him to the top of the frame, but that the circular medallions leading up the bookcase actually tie the head to the circular foil on the right-most certificate, which the shot has been tilted to highlight.

It's almost like thought bubbles going up, and the connection is that this man is a heavyweight, not because of the books, but because he's actually accomplished something significant to get him behind that desk.


David Liang said...

Kirk! If you've got more stories like this one, please share them. I love these really digestible short stories about the early days.

dario dasar said...

the direction of the bookshelves is a real geometrical mistery to me