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Donald Sterzin

"Be tough" is what he used to tell me all the time. He was known for his loud bark, but everyone who knew him discovered his big heart and great eyes. He had an eye for grand indulgence in a photograph something that reached out to people and said, Just have a great time. When I first met him at GQ magazine he was only an assistant, but he acted like Alexey Brodovitch, and from that time on he spoiled me and so many other photographers, illustrators, and models. If you wanted a certain model or location, you got it. He was almost too good to be true, but there was always one law: You had to live what you wanted to photograph. That meant that the act of taking a photograph had to be one of your biggest pleasures in life. When Donald left GQ he was thought too independent, and most people in the business thought he was too strong. But it was always for the right reasons-the photographs. By the time Donald went to work with Sandy Carlson and Dick Tarlow for Ralph Lauren, we'd all begun to learn that the rose in the photograph was just as important as the softness of that pillow, the way the girl's hair fell onto her shoulder, and the best emulsion Kodak had to offer. I am lucky to have known and worked with great art directors like Bea Feitler, Ruth Ansel, and Sam Shahid, and Donald was in that class. In all the time I worked with him, my good friend Donald never asked me to take a picture I didn't believe in. May all photographers be as lucky as I was to find a Donald in their lives .

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