Recently, my friend and photography student Jack Tasoff died in a four-wheel-drive accident in a remote area of the Anza-Borrego desert.
I first met Jack a number of years ago. I was scouting a location for a photography workshop in the Patriarch Grove of ancient Bristlecone Pines in the White Mountains of eastern California. My camera was on a tripod, and I was shooting the textures and folds of the bark of one of these 4,000 year-old trees.
Jack came up to me and asked, “Do you know anything about the photography workshop that is going to be happening here in a few days?”
“Well,” I replied, “my name is Harold Davis, and I am leading the workshop.”
Jack looked at me and considered for a moment. Then he said, “Hm…I thought ‘Harold Davis’ would be lean and handsome like Calvin Klein, not an overweight patzer like the rest of us!”
Those who knew and loved Jack probably realize that tact wasn’t his strong point. But as time went by, and Jack and I continued to correspond every week, I truly began to appreciate the breadth of his knowledge and insights, and how much he savored life. We discussed everything, from Ming vases and Titian paintings to botany, biology, and individual motivations. Every interaction with Jack was entertaining, and every discussion gave me unusual insights. Jack saw the world in his own way. He was a true original, and in my book no greater compliment can be made.
Jack had a gentle side. He could be loud, and carried a big lens, but he cared deeply about little creatures. He enjoyed most of all seeking out and photographing small, endangered animals.
I miss Jack already, and know that this sense of loss will only grow as time goes by. One consolation is that he was out doing two things he loved—photographing wild animals, and travelling in the desert. May his wonderful spirit find beauty and joy.
You can find some of Jack’s photography on his website wee tim’rous beasties.