The Independent Author

Beaches, Bays & Backroads

May 10, 2021 Tom Kranz Season 2 Episode 6
The Independent Author
Beaches, Bays & Backroads
Show Notes Transcript

Career news photographer Brian Horton turns his camera to the beauty of the Jersey Shore, making a bookful of scenic and nature photos as a tribute to his late wife and a fundraiser for the center that helped her cope with multiple sclerosis. Info on obtaining the book is included.

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Tom Kranz:

Hi, everybody, Tom Kranz here. Welcome back to the Independent Author podcast. I appreciate you subscribing and I appreciate you downloading my episodes. Today, my guest is Brian Horton. Brian, and I go back a few years, when Brian lived kind of full time here in my hometown of Fanwood. We met, I guess, because we had common backgrounds as veterans of the news business. But Brian, for a little while, took over the job I used to have here doing public information, which was taking photographs of local town council meetings and captioning them and kind of being the photographic record keeper of events here in fanwood. He since then sold his house in Fanwood moved down to the shore, the Jersey Shore, and of course, we're all jealous of that. And this is, by a long explanatio by by way of me saying that he has published a book of his photographs, called Beaches, Bays and Backroads. Brian is a career photographer, I think he's probably spent much of his life behind the camera. And Brian, welcome.

Brian Horton:

Thank you, Tom, for inviting me.

Tom Kranz:

Sure. What's the weather at the shoreline today?

Brian Horton:

I actually, actually, it's kind of a throwaway day, kind of kind of overcast, but we're supposed to have son the rest of the week. So you put up with days like this, to get the days like tomorrow.

Tom Kranz:

Yeah, sure, sure. So tell us a little bit about your origins. So you spent most of your life while I guess your career as a photographer for the Associated Press. Tell us a little bit about what that entailed.

Brian Horton:

Well, I actually grew up in a in a journalism household. My dad was a bureau chief for the Indianapolis Star when I was a kid. And so I watched him make pictures to go with his stories, and went through college at Indiana University and then went to work for the AP in Chicago in 1971. And started on the photo desk and then transitioned to being a photographer in Philadelphia, Cincinnati, Columbus and then moved to New York in the early 80s to join the management team there. So, I had a tremendous career. I was very lucky. I did 12 Olympics and two dozen World Series and two dozen Super Bowls and news events of all sizes and got to travel to about three dozen countries around the world.

Tom Kranz:

So we really did see the world for them, right?

Brian Horton:

Yes, I was really lucky. I was really lucky just about most of the major stories of the late 20th century, I had a hand in somehow.

Tom Kranz:

And so you spent a lot of a lot of those years working in the film world before those kids out there had digital cameras. You shot film and I, you know, I never did that for a living when I first started taking pictures I shot film of course too but you know I had kept the roll of film and my camera for weeks and then I you know sent it to a Photomat and got it when I got it. What was it like you know having to get like a camera full of film developed and where did you do it? And how did you make deadlines? You know, when you couldn't just plug in or pull out an SD card?

Brian Horton:

Yeah, actually the the most difficult part of any job for a wire service photographer for many, many, many years was was getting that picture out to the the newspapers and magazines that subscribe to the AP service. If it was a story you could plan on you go a day ahead and and or hours ahead and and try to find a spot where you can soup your family might be a restroom in an office building or or someone's basement or something like that. And you'd set up a little makeshift darkroom and process it on the spot and then make a print and borrow a telephone line and, and send a picture. And it used to take about 10 minutes to send one black and white picture. I actually was lucky enough to be in on the ground floor of the transition to digital. And the AP was kind of the pioneer in digital photography. First working with MIT to create an electronic darkroom to handle pictures digitally and then that led over the years to a camera. They had a partnership with Kodak to produce the first working news photographers' digital camera. And, of course, like you said that freed you up. You didn't didn't have to have a darkroom anymore. And that was really the driving force behind it. It wasn't so much trying to be a pioneer or trying to create something new, it was the answer an age old problem.

Tom Kranz:

Sure. So, did you come into the digital age reluctantly? Were you suspicious? Or was it like, oh, thank God, this is here now.

Brian Horton:

Well, I was thank God it was here now. But it was it was very difficult. Because the technology there was less memory and, and, and less pixel count and less quality. And in the first news photographers, digital cameras, which was a an NC 2000, they call it and in there was, it produced a one and a half megabyte file, which is less than the absolute worst iPhone, ever. But at the time, that was more information than anybody had ever seen in a digital picture. So it was, it was a thing where you kind of had to put up with the the bumps and the bruises. Knowing that that technology quickly evolves, especially when there is a force behind it to make it evolve, there hadn't been a need for a better chip at that point, because there was no way to use it. So when people came up with a way to use it, or something you use it for then the chip, people answered that call. And, and that was really the evolution, the first pictures where you could almost count the pixels and an eight by 10. Looking at it.

Tom Kranz:

So the book Beaches, Bays and Backoads that you did just thumbing through it, of course, you're a very active Facebook poster. So quite a few of these photographs are familiar, but they're absolutely spectacular photos of sunsets of birds, wildlife, some people in here. Beautiful skies. I know that, based on what I see, in these pictures, there's fertile ground for great nature photography, down at the Jersey Shore. Your book is dedicated to the memory of your late wife Marilyn. Tell us a little bit about where you met Marilyn and and your, you know, just a kind of a quick thumbnail sketch of your lives together.

Brian Horton:

Well, Marilyn, and I actually met at a plane crash, which was a real journalism love story. Yeah. We, we both were covering a plane crash at Greater Cincinnati airport, and I sat next to her on a shuttle bus that was going to take us out to the scene. And we had to wait a long period of time to go out. And so we sat and talked and later I asked her out and we were married in 1983. And, and just had a great life together. Marilyn was a journalist. And and that helps because she understood me being gone and and my crazy hours and she had crazy hours, and so on. And in 2007 Marilyn suffered and flare of multiple sclerosis that that led to her disability. And then we spent the next 13 years fighting that battle together. And, it just really gave gave us a chance to learn a lot about each other and how hard she would fight and, and just wouldn't give up. And it's very inspiring. You couldn't think you were having a bad day, when you thought of what she went through every day. In 2020 in the course of a two month period, we found out she had a unrelated to the MS that she had a tumor in her lung and proved to be cancerous and and she died in two months almost to the day from the discovery of the tumor to her death. And we used to go out and and and drive in the back roads of along the shore there are vast areas 1000s and 1000s and 1000s of acres of grasslands and all along the shore and we would go out there Just to spend a nice afternoon out in the sun, especially in the offseason, when it was warm enough, we'd go up to the beach, but in the offseason, we just go out and drive on these back roads. So just to see what we could get and get us out of the house and get some sunshine. And a lot of the pictures come from those trips. And we had a lot of great conversations on those trips. And that's some of the my, my fondest memories are going out and just talking about life and seeing birds and, and we would go out every day for sunset no matter what and, and that that was kind of our life for many years.

Tom Kranz:

I see and and you know the book's, a part of the book's beauty is, you know, the pages that have to do with your lives together. And the people who helped you through all those years. I met Marilyn several times, you know, that smile, or hers lit up a room when she came in. And it was very sad when she passed away. But I see also that, that the Robert Wood Johnson center for MS was a huge help to both of you. And in fact, while the book is not for sale, per se, people who get the book are encouraged or strongly urged to make a donation to that center. And I'm guessing that that's got to be one of the reasons that it's really taken off when you take, you know, beautiful pictures and a good cause like that, for such an inspiring dedication, you know, who wouldn't want to give to that kind of a cause?

Brian Horton:

I've been overwhelmed by the response, Tom, I had originally come up with a list of 40 or 50 names of friends, people who had a connection with Marilyn and with me, and, and thought I'll put together this book of photographs that that will bring back memories of Marilyn for them, and, and so on. And we've now passed 300 books. So just someone told somebody or shared and showed a friend or something and then a friend got ahold of me, a lot of people on Facebook saw announcement that the book was coming out and so on. And it's really completely word of mouth. Just just amazing. And just just wait about six or eight weeks now since since I hit the button to send it to the printer. For the first time. I passed 300 books distributed this week. So if if anyone is interested, and they'd like some more information on the book, they can email me at at [email protected] And, and I'll respond to them and answer any questions they have and tell them how they could donate to the Robert Wood Johnson center for MS who are the people who were really our guide through the 13 years of Marilyn's disability.

Tom Kranz:

That's great. I really encourage folks to look into that and to seriously consider sending Brian an email at [email protected] And at least start the dialogue about getting a hold of a copy of this book and making a donation, large or small to the Robert Wood Johnson center for MS. They did incredible work down there. And Brian, your photography speaks for itself. I don't want to sit here and try to describe, you know, in audio only what these pictures are like, but there's the one that I told you about. There's a picture about four pages in, folks, of these two seagulls having an argument apparently over a crashing wave at the shoreline of Long Beach Island and you can almost feel the spray of the water. You can almost hear the seagulls, this picture is so spectacular. But there's a lot of spectacular photographs in this book. Brian, I really appreciate you joining me here. I wish you really great continued success with the book and keep taking pictures and keep posting them. Some days, it's about the only the most positive thing on my Facebook.

Brian Horton:

Well, thanks so much, Tom. Thanks for inviting me to join you on your podcast today.

Tom Kranz:

You bet and thank you to everybody for listening and join us next time.