Saturday, July 02, 2005

staff: Jack Leigh

Jack Leigh, who died in 2004, was part of the Biograph’s staff in late-1973/early-1974. He was earnest and quick-witted. Jack liked to play chess and talk about movies, and of course -- photography. In those days he was already a very good photographer. The quiet style he would use throughout his career was already evident. He authored six books of photographs, including Oystering, which featured a foreward by James Dickey.

Leigh introduced me to Half-Rubber, a three-man baseball-like game that he said orginated in his hometown, Savannah. It was played with a broom handle and half of a red rubber ball. At the time there were several vacant lots across from the theater, so one afternoon I crossed Grace Street with Jack and assistant manager Bernie Hall to try Half-Rubber.

The key to pitching was to throw the ball side-arm with the flat part down to make it curve and soar somewhat like a Frisbee. Hitting or catching it was quite another matter. The pitcher threw the half-ball in the general direction of the batter, who tried to hit it. If he missed, and he usually did, the catcher did his best to catch it, which wasn't easy either. When the catcher did catch it, if the batter had swung he was out. Then the pitcher moved to the catching position, and the catcher became the batter, and so forth.

But the best reason to play -- other than the laughs stemming from how foolish we looked -- was the kick that came from hitting it. When we connected with that little red devil it left the bat like a rocket.

The following is from Leigh's gallery’s web site:
In 1993 Leigh was commissioned to create a photograph for the book cover of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. The book became an international best seller and the photograph is Leigh's most famous and widely recognized image.
Click here to visit the gallery.

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