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Friday, 07 November 2008


Saw Cecil on Antiques Roadshow this past Monday. I'm sure it was a compilation of many shows and I think it was '04 or 05. He looked in good health and had carried the photo in question to the show just to value it and two others. The others were the Thanksgiving family shot signed by Kennedy and his first shot of Johnson in the oval office actually holding a print of the swearing in photo. They valued them at 75 to 100k. Interesting. He certainly had a long and interesting life and career.

Cecil lived his retirement years in Cocoa Beach and I met him over thirty years ago. He had, as one might guess, an abundance of stories, but there was one favorite.

At Nixon's inauguration everyone was dressed to the nines except Cecil, who was sporting his trademark bright red plaid jacket. That outerwear was what prompted Nixon to fire him.

He also liked to show the photo Caroline Kennedy took of him with his Hasselblad SWC.

In all the times we spoke there was no trace of ego, just the sense of a real professional who did his job.

"Joe the Plumber" is a blatant fraud, but Cecil The Photographer was the real deal. I feel privileged to have known him.

Just wanted to say that I'm sorry for your loss. And ask you a question. Did you get strange looks from people for taking pictures? Because I assume that is not the only one you took. I myself took some pictures at a funeral of the parents of a friend, and some of the people around gave me dirty looks, but I got some good pictures and gave all the files to my friend, he also is a photographer, so he apreciated the gesture. Anyway, I just wanted to know more about your expierience.
Again, sorry for your loss.

Among the people who know me, I think I get more strange looks when I'm NOT taking pictures....

Mike J.

I have always been "bothered" by an aspect of this picture, aside from the historic and tragic moment.

I've never understood the prescence of Mrs. Kennedy as a witness; or participent. After the horror of the day, and facing the heartrending task of telling their children, this seems to me one brutalty too many.

Please correct any misconceptions I may have; it's only been 45 years.

Sorry for being way OT.


Taking pictures at a funeral? Mike, Ramon: isn't that taboo?

I didn't take any pictures at the service.

Mike J.

About the photo at the burial -

I am not sure you want comments Mike, because there is no comment section under that photo, but since comments have been made I would like to add the following -

Photography means something different to those of us who are photographers than to many who are not. Taking photographs is so natural and so ingrained and so important to us that NOT taking photos of such a significant event would be regrettable.

Those who know us best understand that. I took photos of my mother's and my father's burial and it was a comfort to me. The normalcy of it was a comfort to my family. They know I always have a camera.


My late father-in-law always said he preferred a funeral to a wedding on the basis that at the wedding one only knows half of the people present whereas at a funeral one tends to know them all.
Certainly funerals in Ireland, (and lets not get into the territory of wakes etc), tend to be quite social occassions to such an extent that they can be the only time one meets ones relations. This fact so struck our own family that we now have an annual get together in a hotel, preferring that to waiting for one of own's demise for a get together

I took pictures of everything, but I was using a compact camera as to minimize the noise, and I didn't jump in front of anyone to get a shot. If my friend would have shown the slightest distaste on what I was doing I would have stopped.

Mike and Ramon: I do apologize for seeming to accuse you of outrageous behavior. It occurred to me that it is not unusual to see dramatizations of funerals and burials, and on occasion a cautious record of some aspect of the final ceremonies honoring an extraordinary person, but for the most part, when it comes to documenting our lives and our families, it just isn't done. I was teasing. I think it should be done and I thank you both doing it and making me think about it.

A couple of thoughts about the photo of L.B.J. taking the oath of office:

I see Mrs. Kennedy, Lyndon, and Lady Bird. The person administering the oath is U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Hughes. Is that Sargent Shriver over her head? Who else is there? Was Cecil Stoughton the ONLY photographer aboard?

In 1963, the President's airplane was a Boeing 707. Wikipedia gives the 707 fuselage width as 12 feet 4 inches. What sort of equipment do you suppose the Official White House Photographer was using that day?

L.B.J.'s right arm brings to mind the recent discussion about "error mimicking".

Knowing what we know today, is there any image of a President more evocative than this one?

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