Tony King passed away on May 13, 2017 of mesothelioma. Born in Canada, he spent most of his 83 years in Massachusetts. He was married to the artist Judith Stoddard King for 59 years, They had four children.
Beginning at age eleven with a Brownie camera given him by his mother, King quickly developed an interest in photographing and writing about the world around him. " My life has been dominated by one thing: a need to show people what I'm excited about. When I was a little boy, I was always dragging people off to show them the things that made the world wonderful to me."
Tony owned a small manufacturing company in Worcester, MA for many years, a family business which gave him the freedom to pursue only those professional photographic endeavors which interested him. Those interests led especially toward photographing and writing books, at which he was prolific.
Among his many books are A Place to Begin: The New England Experience, with text by Hal Borland; The Faces of the Great Lakes, with text by Jonathan Ela (both of these books were published by the Sierra Club); Ojibway Summer, My Maine Thing, This Proud Place: An Affectionate Look at New England, Criss-Cross Applesauce, Keep In Touch (an album of some of his best black & white postcards) A Year to Remember (favorite photos from the black & white New England calendars he published for many years), Versed in Country Things, with poems by Robert Frost, Snow Season, from Snow to Snow, and The Oak Behind the House.
For the last decade he has published compilations of his photographs on various subjects in small, soft-cover booklets called Going Home Books and Look Around Books. His final book, Closer to Home, for which he compiled the photographs and wrote the text shortly before his death, was published posthumously in December, 2017.
Although most of his books are out of print, copies of many of them can still be ordered from Time and Quiet Press. Their web site is http://timeandquietpress.com/
My copy of This Proud Place
My Maine Thing remains my favorite of his books, followed by This Proud Place, a book about New England. Tony has photographed in many places other than New England, but has mined most of his photographic riches from his own back yard.. He says, "Most were made just going about the natural business of living. Taking the carpool. Visiting my kids at summer camp. Taking my daughter to college. Moving my dad back and forth to his cottage on Lake Huron. Everywhere I go I leave a little extra time. I always have a camera with me. These things come out of my life."
In the mid '90s, his concern about ecological issues gradually led him away from the black & white glimpses of life that I have found so satisfying and soul-enriching to concentrate on color photography of nature, culminating in the publication of the beautifully produced, limited edition book Of Time and Quiet.
While most of Elliott Erwitt's photographs contain people (Or dogs. Or people and dogs.), many of King's do not. However, they are alive with human presence. Even when no people are visible, their presence is felt -- as though they might have just stepped out of the scene, or were about to step into it.
Although he used digital cameras in his later years, Tony worked with Leicas for most of his career; also sometimes using a medium format camera which gave a square negative. I never asked him what it was. His technique is straightforward, as are his photographs. Most of his work, and certainly his best work, in my opinion, has been in black and white. Deceptively simple, spare, economical, yet always celebrating beauty and always with an undercurrent of mystery just beneath the surface.
(All photographs except for the photo of my copy of This Proud Place copyright Judy and Tony King Foundation, 2020.)
To be continued. . .
Soli Deo Gloria