It was now or never. My goal from that first day at age 18 in September of 1952 had always been to learn the trade of photography by assisting Richard Avedon and then go out on my own. Thirteen years later, with three years out for military service, I was still there and finding it difficult to say goodbye. Somehow, in all the excitement and wonderful experiences of working for the world's most renowned photographer, I kept putting off the inevitable.
But now I was 30 years old, rapidly closing in on 31. If I stayed longer I was in grave danger of becoming a "professional assistant" with no job security and nowhere to go if I ever found myself unemployed. Oh, the money was good and I was living pretty high on the hog — large apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan and the lifestyle of a guy on the way up. My job was not only exciting and immensely rewarding, but pleasant as well.
Another troublesome aspect was the prospect of eternally living in the shadow of a great genius. I knew that my own work would never be anywhere near as masterful as his, although good enough to get by with in the world of advertising.
I almost made the break in September of 1964, after returning from a three-week vacation in Japan. But at the last moment I chickened out because I didn't feel quite ready yet. This was good, as that last year with Avedon (September '64 through September '65) was by far the best I ever had. Now I had not only the knowledge but the contacts and confidence that made the transition comfortable.
Upon returning from a vacation in Yugoslavia at the beginning of September 1965 I made the announcement, and agreed to stay on for a short while until my replacement was ready. The break was a friendly one, with Avedon even helping by sending clients to me and my new business partner. Thank you, Dick.