For Nile

Nile Root was my first serious teacher in photography a medium that has been my life’s work. I first met him in 1967 after military service while I was working as a photography delivery driver at Lindahl Photo in Denver, Colorado on my way to the Art Center in Los Angeles.

Nile was the head of the Medical Illustration Department at General Rose Hospital. Since I was a friend with members of his staff, I would often time my deliveries so I could goof off with everyone in the small crowded facility.

He handed me a book on Edward Weston. When I said, “I never heard of him before”, he quickly took the book back saying when I learn more, I could then see the book. That evening I did some research on Weston and reported on my findings the next day. Nile smiled, offered me the book, and we had a discussion on the importance of Weston’s work.

One day I brought in a photograph I had made of an abandoned mountain cabin. It was strongly backlit with not much shadow detail. It was horribly printed with the wrong proportions and a blank white sky. Nile asked for the negative and presented the finished print to me the next week artistically mounted on a board. It was absolutely beautiful. The cabin had enough detail to place it dramatically in Zone IV and the sun once obscured was a bright energetic orb, radiating from one corner. It was not the photograph I originally envisioned; it was better. I learned the importance pre visualizing and of considered soulful printing.

Later, I learned that Nile was connected with a major photography movement. Using his workspace [Photography Workshops, Inc.] to hold meetings and workshops with Minor White, Walter Chappell, Arnold Gassan, and Syl Labrot, Nile helped promote and nurture creative photography as an art in the early 60’s.

We began our academic careers at the same time [1972]. I started teaching at Utah State University after graduate school and he at the Rochester Institute of Technology. We kept in touch and he continued to encourage me in my teaching and personal artistic endeavor. I have heard it said that a good teacher teaches you a well-organized curriculum but a great teacher is one who is there for you at a critical time in your life to change your direction and put you on the right path. Nile was a great teacher.

He was interested in many subjects but especially astronomy and archeoastronomy. He always had use of a telescope nearby his home or backyard. You should always remember the first person to show you the stars and the great cosmic wonder. For me, this was mind expanding to see the moon in glorious detail, the rings of Saturn, the moons of Jupiter, and the great nebula of Orion. This body of work I dedicate to him.

A. J. Meek

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