Sam was honoured this evening with a remembrance at the Lucie Foundation Awards held at the Lincoln Center in New York. The list of master photographers who died in the preceding year of course included Irving Penn, whom Sam revered. They only ever met once and quite briefly but Mr Penn took the opportunity to ask Sam how he had lit a particular photograph in 'Five Girls' (Sam's first book published in 1972) saying he had been trying to figure out the solution for years. I only ever heard Sam tell this story once and he didn't elaborate on his response. He did however often tell another Irving Penn story. As a student from Africa studying in post war London, he had come across Penn's work for the first time in a copy of Graphis magazine in the reading room at the V&A Museum. Sam repeatedly recalled how that event changed his thinking about what was possible with photography.
Irving Penn died on October 7th 2009, the same day that Sam was interviewed by Horacio Silva at a LeBook event at Milk Gallery in New York. This was immediately following Sam's release from a week in hospital. He had suffered a stroke on the day his exhibition - to launch 'Fashion Etcetera' - opened at Milk and passed away a few weeks later on November 26th at his home in Australia, he was 83. Irving Penn was a decade older than Sam and they had both trained as fine artists before becoming photographers.
Here are the images that were projected in Sam's memory. Impossible to summarise a career in five images, but that's the format.
From Five Girls, 1962
Cowboy Kate, 1964
November Girl, 1967
Pondo Matriach from the cover of African Image, 1967
Cover of Haskins Posters, 1972
Sam in front of the working layout of African Image in his Johannesburg studio, 1967