Monte Zucker 1929-2007
Memories of Monte Zucker by Gary Bernstein
You couldn't grow up in Washington, D.C. without knowing the name Monte Zucker. Monte was already a photography legend when I was just a kid. Long before I knew I wanted to be a photographer, I knew that Monte Zucker was one of the best there was. He had it all -- the heart, the eye, the drive and the passion.
In 1970, when I was 22 and Monte was 42, I went to work in his studio. We lived and talked photographic philosophy 24/7. He would shoot one wedding. I would shoot the other; and although Monte was a dedicated event-shooter, I talked him into letting me start a children's portrait division, and even introduce my first love of commercial and glamour photography under his studio banner. It was Monte who paid for my first PPA membership and got me to enter my first print competition; and although we only worked together about 8 or 9 months (before I left D.C. to open my New York City studio), our friendship, many business collaborations, and those great talks about photography continued through the years.
Monte was unforgettable. His captivating personality and special flair were always his hallmarks as was the entourage that loved him. In fact, the only thing that Monte loved more than photography were the people he photographed. That is why there is so much love and sensitivity in his images.
Monte Zucker created an entire industry and a school of learning for wedding photography that is unequalled. His disciples and imitators are worldwide and span the generations. It is said that there are thousands of Monte copies, but that no one even remotely approached his brilliance. The reason of course, is that Monte didn't require "Monte's guidelines" to shoot his pictures. He shot from the heart and with that zen-like feel for posing and composition. If you've never watched the man work, or experienced his posing first hand, then you haven't seen the magic. He was unique on every level.
We combined our names and started www.zuga.together--one of the first photography websites-- which I will soon close in honor of my friend's passing.