1945 - 2011
A friend, Photographer and Master Printer Gene Nocon passed away last Sunday. I had the pleasure of knowing and working with Gene for over 15 years. He was a mentor and a creative spirit. We worked together on many projects and exhibits and he printed the very first limited edition prints from the award winning series "A New Discovery". About ninety percent of my silver gelatin fiber base prints were printed by him. I have so many fond memories of hanging out with him in his darkroom and studio. He used to tell the best stories about his time working with past photographic legends. Gene, you will be missed. My heart goes out to his family.
His name is not readily reconized, but his work has been seen by more people than any one single photographer. His career started in the early ‘70s when he traveled to Europe and found work at the STARS AND STRIPES newspaper in Germany. He worked as a photographic printer with the legendary photographer/editor Red Grandy: Gene Nocon was destined from the beginning to work with the legends of photography.
In 1975 Gene moved to England. Almost immediately his expertise in the photographic darkroom was recognized and he would eventually be working with the most famous names in the industry. Amongst them were Terence Donovan, Terry O’neill, Linda McCartney, Cecil Beaton, Norman Parkinson, and through John Kobal (KOBAL HOLLYWOOD COLLECTION) printed for George Hurrell, CS Bull, and other Hollywood greats. With Terence Pepper of the National Portrait Gallery London he printed for Paul Tanqueray and Howard Coster. The prints made for these individuals, along with hundreds more photographers, would be used for magazines, books, exhibitions, and collections.
It was in 1980 that Gene entered a photograph in an annual contest that would make him ILFORD PRINTER OF THE YEAR. He was to use this accolade to showcase and highlight the role and importance of the photographer printer with an exhibition called THE PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINT. Around this time Gene’s name was brought to the attention of HRH the Prince Andrew who had an interest in photography. As photographic advisor to Prince Andrew the relationship was to prove a marketing godsend for the photographic industry. Sponsored by ILFORD and NIKON Gene created and produced another exhibition entitled PERSONAL POINTS OF VIEW - the subject of photography becoming the photographer. A taxicab driver (Malcolm Cleaves - representing London tourism), a model (Clare Park - VOGUE Model of the Year), children, paparazzi (Koo Stark), fashion (Zandra Rhodes - fashion designer), music/entertainment (Linda McCartney), and royalty (Prince Andrew) took their own pictures to show the reality of their world. Television, magazine and newspaper crews were stepping over each other to cover the exhibition event held at Hamiltons Gallery in London.
Take a look at some of the vintage photographs he printed on his website.
Working with Sarah, the Duchess of York, Gene helped organized the largest photographic event ever held in Great Britain. ONE DAY FOR LIFE was a year in the making culminating on August 13th, 1987, with thousands of men, women and children taking pictures to capture a moment in their lives on that day. Edited and made into a best selling book it raised money for cancer research. ILFORD’s annual calendar was again Gene’s project: working in the background - submitting Prince Andrew’s photographs as an objective “test” of Prince Andrew’s photographic talent.
Gene organized the photography for the Royal Wedding of Prince Andrew and Sarah. It was his portrait of Prince Andrew and Sarah, that became the Royal Wedding Commemorative Stamp. And it was Gene who organized the logistics for Prince Andrew to photograph the castles representing Great Britain (Windsor, Carrickfergus, Edinburgh, and Caernarfon) that are the images on the High Value Definitive Stamps in use today by the Royal Mail.
Honored as a Fellow of the Royal Photographic Society (FRPS) for his contributions to photography he help founded the RPS Distinction Panel for Photographic Printers and served as it’s first Chairman.
His popularity and zeal for photography led to having his own television series entitled NOCON ON PHOTOGRAPHY for Thames Television London.
His book PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINTING, describing the “f/stop method” of printing, became the bible for the black and white printing industry. It went on to its 4th printing for VIRGIN Press. The “f/stop method” is basis for his invention and production of the NOCON Photographic Timer which was distributed and sold by CALUMET.
The memorial service will be held on Friday, December 2nd at the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala, San Diego, California, at 10:30am.