Small child grows up and gets ready to graduate from college...

I took this photograph of Ben when he was in kindergarten. The school was celebrating Texas history and had asked the kid's to dress like "Texans." Ben wore his boots, of course, and what little Texan doesn't have a selection of cowboy hats? I thought the bandana was a nice touch as well.

Now I have to come to grips with the idea that my kid has grown up and is about to graduate from a nice little college and head out into the real world. I'm pretty sure he is more ready than I ever was at his age. He has the benefit of having inherited a distinct level-headedness from his mother, as well as her common sense about money and hard work. I have no doubt he can handle pretty much anything.

We're heading up to New York in a couple of weeks for the graduation ceremonies. If I had my own airplane I would certainly take Studio Dog along for the show. She'd enjoy it but she is averse to flying. She refused to fly coach. Much less the cargo hold. I'll just have to Skype with her...

The big question, of course, is what camera to take along to a college graduation. I've never been to one before. I left school as soon as I got my degree and spent the next few months backpacking. The whole process seemed silly to me then. It's another story now, I actually paid for this one. Maybe that's why parents feel so invested in attending their kids' graduations.

I'm thinking I should take the old Nikon F2 out of the drawer, drop the 105mm f2.5 onto the front of it and load it up with Tri-X. Maybe take an extra three rolls along in my pants pocket. Either that or head to the opposite extreme and take a Sony RX10iv. You know, for the extra reach...

Then again, this photography thing at the event, it's not my job. Perhaps I should leave the cameras at home and just support whomever the school hires to take the official photos of the young adults getting their diplomas. That would be the ethical thing to do. And I wouldn't have to pack more stuff.

On another topic, I've been trying to decide what to get my kid for graduation. I thought, because he is such a good kid, I should spring for something special, like an Aston Martin Vanquish but my banker put the kibosh on that one and the insurance company offered supporting testimony for my banker's reasonable stance. Another dilemma to ponder....

At any rate. Another chapter in life closes. Another one begins. Funny, I was just re-reading Ian Fleming's novel, Goldfinger. The first chapter is entitled, "Reflections in a double bourbon." I guess everything can be a chapter. That one just sounds so......Mad Men.

I always remember the final line in "Diamonds are Forever" by the same author. The line is about the life of secret agent, James Bond. It says, "It reads better than it lives." don't know why I find the line so entertaining, but I do.

If you haven't read an Ian Fleming novel, and all you know of James Bond is the movies, can I suggest you pick up a copy of "Moonraker" and make yourself very, very happy? It's ironic. "Moonraker" is Ian Fleming's best James Bond novel and yet it's the worst of the many James Bond movies. Go figure.

(And don't tell me you never read fiction or you'll be pilloried in the comments section. Really!).


  1. A very nice GOLD ring.............could his get out of jail card when stuck in foreign climes....... or to remember you by!

  2. CONGRATULATIONS to you, your wife, and especially to Ben. It's a big deal.
    Good Luck in his future endeavors.
    Don't forget to post fotos.

  3. Pass my best wishes to Ben. Get him a fully loaded MacBook Pro. Nearly the cost of the Vanquish but he can get real work done with it (editing).

  4. I agree with you 100% about the novel "Moonraker". When I was in my teens I read all of Fleming's Bond novels, then re-read them all again in chronological order. "Moonraker" was indeed one of the better ones. (The movie was, by comparison, terrible. A friend of mine and I used to marvel at how the plots of the books and the movies tended to be very very different.) One knock I have against Fleming's writing, however, is that when reading the books with early 21st-Century optics, they come across at times as a bit misogynistic, and in a few cases maybe even slightly xenophobic or racist. Great stories though!

  5. Graduations are frustrating to photograph. Take a small camera with a long zoom, for when you can't help yourself. Pay attention to your kid. Cap and gown will make identifying him a bit tricky.

  6. Take the G85 is you still have it. Compact and capable. Congratulations to Mr. Ben Tuck! I can remember when my daughter graduated from university, I was SO proud of her. Still am.

    Congrats to you and Belinda as well. I'm sure Studio Dog deserves a compliment as well. I'm sure Studio Dog worked very hard being the chief therapist.


  7. Sending my kid through college is easily in the top 5 things I'm most proud of in my life. Heartfelt congrats on that achievement. Of course Ben had to do the work, so kudos to him as well! :D

    Camera recommendation: Nikon FE2 (for the 4000 shutter speed in case it's a really bright day), used in Aperture Priority the entire time of course.

    Film recommendation: You got it right... Tri-X 400 all the way baby!

    Car graduation gift recommendation: Subaru Outback with whatever rack (bike, kayak, etc.) suits him. The Subaru commercials have it right... they really are safe. Nothing wrong with getting him a nice used one!

  8. I love reading about Ben, especially now that I am the proud father of a five week old son. You seem to have done a great job of raising him. I would love to see a blog post discussing your journey photographing Ben over the years. I have never really liked photographing people, but now I can't stop taking pictures of my little man!

    Regarding James Bond books - I love them. Have read all by Fleming, Gardner, Benson and I think all of the other authors. I just read an interesting non-fiction book about Bond called "The World of James Bond: The Lives and Times of 007" by Jeremy Black. It was informative, but not great. I just looked on my local library's website as I figure that now is a good time for a Moonraker reread. They only have the ebook in German. And hoopla is not working properly for me to check out the audiobook.

    As a side note, I actually prefer printed books, but after paying hundreds of dollars of fines to libraries over the years for overdue books, I have recognized my own limitations and embraced ebooks. No more late fees for me.

  9. Anthony BridgesMay 5, 2018 at 7:36 PM

    I've photographed several graduations from elementary to college of family. If I were you, I would take one of the Panasonic cameras and the Oly 12-100. The big moment is when the kid walks across the stage and takes his diploma. That lens would present many options for that and would not be overly intrusive to other guests. You could still buy the posed gown photo to support the school photographer.

  10. Congratulations due all around. Good job! Now on to a masters degree!

  11. Congrats. It is a strange and wonderful feeling when your child graduates. Take the camera you can count on when distracted and not on top of your game. My son and only graduated Friday. He chose to skip the massive arena event for the entire university (Mama was not wild about it) and attend just his media studies department ceremony where 40 were recognized at a local church. Good choice with guest speaker alum who has made it as an indie film director. It was fun and photo friendly and I got good shots of my boy and his compadres. I debated taking the em5 (need em1) and 50-200 for reach but chose d300 with 18-70 for dependable focus. And plenty of iPhone pix as well from Mama who got the money shot where he received the diploma holder.

  12. Congrats to Ben. A big moment in any person's life, especially the parents. I've read quite a few of the Bond novels, not all but most. I'm really not impressed with Fleming's prose at all. The novels are very simple, plot only, flat characters and Bond is quite the misogynist. Bond's analysis of Pussy Galore's sexual preferences is cringe-worthy and rather comical. I enjoy the films for what they are though. Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes is a much better read.

  13. Congrats Kirk,
    Job’s done, time to let the young man go his own way, with the occasional tip from mum & dad :) Re graduation, as per your earlier post about photographing kids, just enjoy the moment. Take something small & light for the candids before and after, and let the hired help do the heavy lifting on the day.
    Re graduation gift, I’d suggest an experience over buying stuff. A manager in a previous employer had an excellent idea - go on a father-son holiday. You set the budget, let him work out where to go, how to get there and what to do. The manager had 4 kids and each did very different things, from blowing the whole budget on a short, expensive weekend, to backpacking in Asia for a month to stretch the budget as far as possible.
    Not THAT Ross Cameron.

  14. I would take the Sony, you don't want to leave it up to another photographer to celebrate one of the best moments in your life. Taking your own moments is part of the celebration. I know Ben will be a success, he has great guidance and love. The future is his.

  15. "On another topic, I've been trying to decide what to get my kid for graduation." . . .

    As cars rot, cameras fail, computers are already available, isn't it time for a return flight to Lisbon and an Interrail pass?

    Congratulations to all concerned.

  16. Congratulations on raising a great young man!

    My daughter has a year to go at a small college in Boston. I still think about her when she was a five year old with pink hair and a painted face and missing teeth. Then I talk to her on the phone and discuss school, work and politics. Wow! She is all grown up and such an great young woman. Blows my mind.

    I miss our walks in the park taking photos together at Auditorium Shores, Zilker Park and Cyprus Creek Park, but I treasure the memories.

    I will try an Ian Fleming novel after I finish The Lisbon Portfolio. I am on Chapter 14.

  17. Congratulations to Ben, and to both of you. I remember seeing Ben at a College function a couple of years ago and recognizing him instantly from your photos.

    His College holds its graduation ceremony at a local performing arts center. The stage is fairly dim, and will probably be a long distance away and well below you. If you want to take pictures of the actual ceremony, a long, fast lens would be my choice. I think I used a 300 mm lens. But, as you say, they have photographers who cover that. The informal moments before and after are the pictures I keep going back to.


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