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Sam Turner

I had more trepidation shooting this man whom I have known and looked up to since I was five years old, more than capturing celebrities on the red carpet.  Why?  Who knows.  He’s one of the most kind and thoughtful human beings on the planet, and an icon in the Newton area to anyone who attended Oak Hill Elementary School.  Simply put, Sam Turner, or “Mr. T” as I still call him, crafted an environment where faculty and kids were able to thrive, and in so doing, he instilled a lifetime of memories in thousands of us.  For this I will be forever grateful. I could go on and on, but if I do, I’ll likely get a phone call.  And nobody wants to get called by the Principal, especially not at 45 years old.

From a photographic standpoint (for all the lighting geeks out there) I kept things fairly simple with my Octa softbox directly above or off camera left.  On all except the 1st and 4th shots I added 2 blue gel SB-800’s on either side behind him to add  highlights.  What I was attempting to do was capture the essence, create a mood and get a bit of personality from this man for whom I have so much respect.

In terms of formal portraiture, those who know me understand how I am virtually obsessed with capturing something “honest”, “truthful, and “real” … or I am simply not satisfied.  These postures arrived organically for the most part, borne out of conversation with little direction from me behind the camera. If I were to step back I’m fairly certain I broke more than a few photographic “rules” with these shots, and probably for that reason I think I like them even more.  Listening to my gut and being true to myself are two very important lessons I learned at an early age.  In fact, I learned them from a charismatic Principal I once had in Newton…at the Oak Hill School…

Thanks for everything Mr. T.


  • Jason Kimenker - December 24, 2010 - 2:45 pm

    Fantastic photographs! I loved Mr. Turner when I attended Oak Hill way back when. What a wonderful find. Thanks for sharing!

  • Leslie E Graham - December 31, 2010 - 10:43 am

    These photos are wonderful!.. Thanks for an intimate look at one of the finest men on this earth.. and one of my favorite uncles!!!

  • Turi McKinley - June 7, 2011 - 10:25 pm

    These are wonderful images. I haven’t seen Mr T in years and he seems to have changed little – perhaps its that the person within the eyes remains the same and you’ve shown that through the images.

    Thanks!

  • Russ Vernon-Jones - June 8, 2011 - 9:32 am

    Thanks for these great photos of Sam Turner. The photos are a gift to all of us… just as our Principal was.
    (PS I taught 2nd-3rd grade at Oak Hill 1977-1981.)

  • Shara Zoll - June 9, 2011 - 9:20 am

    What great pictures of Mr. Turner and wow, does he ever look the same!

    p.s. Hi Mr. Vernon-Jones!

    -Shara
    (from your 2nd grade class in 1978)

  • Pam Deming - October 26, 2011 - 7:53 pm

    What wonderful memories these photos brought back! I was fortunate enough to have Mr. Turner as the first principal of my teaching career about 30 years ago…spoiling me for all others since! I have been in 3 more schools with 8 more principals and NO ONE comes near to being such a compassionate, knowledgeable, and caring principal and mentor. He made a lasting impression on me, and I’m sure on every teacher and child who went through the doors of Oak Hill School. Miss you, Sam!

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