Monday, May 29, 2017

JFK at 100: My Dad’s Famous Miami Portrait of the President

Portrait of U.S. President John F. Kennedy, taken at a dinner held for Florida Senator George Smathers at the Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach, on March 10, 1962. This is a framed print of the photograph, printed by the photographer, Charles Trainor, photographer for The Miami News.

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In my elementary school’s main office hung a portrait of President John F. Kennedy. My father had taken the photograph while he was covering JFK for The Miami News during the president’s time here in March 1962. I was impressed. But what was more impressive was that same image hung in my childhood home in Hialeah. There was one difference: Ours was signed, “To Charles Trainor, with warm regards, John Kennedy.”

There was another bond that united the two prints. On Nov. 22, 1963, I was in Miss Addington’s third-grade class at John G. Dupuis Elementary School in Hialeah. Early that afternoon an announcement was made that the president had been shot and had died while on a trip to Dallas. We all were dismissed from school. We didn’t talk much as we headed home across the school field, and I’m not sure how much we understood that this day would resonate in history.

As I entered my house my mother was crying on the couch, my father’s portrait of Kennedy on the wall near the dining-room table, always impressive to guests. My parents were proud to have a connection to the popular, charismatic president — our strong Irish heritage. My mother was born in Dublin, and I still have on my bookshelf a photograph of my father’s grandmother’s grandmother, who came from Ireland to this country through Ellis Island.

That afternoon, my father’s photograph of Kennedy was delivered to our doorstep, published on the front page of The Miami News, Miami’s afternoon newspaper. It took up almost the entire page with a simple headline, “The Man.” There was one column of type on the left side of the page written by Bill Baggs, the editor. 
That day, I told my mom that I was going over to my friend’s house. She said, “No, you will stay home today and pay respect to the late president.” 
Over the years the portrait has graced the walls of our family’s homes as it was handed down, the strength of the photograph almost creating the presence of another person in the room.
Here’s the story of how the photo was taken and came to be autographed by the president:
On March 10, 1962, my father was assigned to cover Kennedy at a fundraising event at the Fontainebleau hotel on Miami Beach. Kennedy was sitting at a long dinner table, in formal wear, next to his close friend Florida Sen. George Smathers.

That day, my father was trying out an early version of a 300mm 2.8 lens — a monster for its time. I think the lens caught Kennedy’s eye because the president is looking straight down the barrel of it, inquisitively. The setting, his expression, my father’s lonely shot made it look almost as if it were a private portrait sitting, even though it was at a dinner table with scores of people around the president. It just came together in a serendipitously special way.

President John F. Kennedy with Senator Smathers
Charles L. Trainor The Miami News

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JFK at 100

In 1988, when The Miami News folded, Pete Cross, a former director of photography at the Miami Herald, which was in the same bayfront building, was wise enough to salvage the lens my father used to take Kennedy’s photograph from the equipment locker room. The lens came in a specially made wooden Miami News case, now a family heirloom. 

In 1988, when The Miami News folded, Pete Cross, a former director of photography at the Miami Herald, which was in the same bayfront building, was wise enough to salvage the lens my father used to take Kennedy’s photograph from the equipment locker room. The lens came in a specially made wooden Miami News case, now a family heirloom. 
And how did my father get President John F. Kennedy to sign the print? Smathers, who was there with Kennedy that night, helped. Later, when Smathers saw the image, he asked my father for a copy and took it to the White House, where the president signed the mat surrounding the print. The signature has been authenticated. 

Here’s the sad ending: Only a few prints of this photograph have survived — and my father told me he lost the negative. 


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Al Diaz Celebrates His 34 years of Photojournalism at the Miami Herald

Today marks my 34th year of photojournalism at the Miami Herald
Many people would say I take pictures but I do much more than that. As a photojournalist I capture the soul of a fleeting moment, a fraction of time in history with all the emotion that goes with it and bring it home to you, the viewer. All this I do in the hopes of making a difference. I am privileged to have the opportunity to do so.

Photojournalist Phil Sandlin added to Kennedy Space Center’s ‘Chroniclers’ Roll of Honor

Phil Sandlin mounts a remote camera on a tower in preparation for Space Shuttle Launch

Retired AP photographer Phil Sandlin was recognized on May 5, 2017 at the Kennedy Space Center for his work over the years covering the space program from the Apollo missions to the Space Shuttle. Sandlin has been added to KSC's "Chroniclers" Roll of Honor.

A photographer for United Press International and then The Associated Press, Sandlin covered the U.S. space program from the Apollo missions to the moon through the shuttle program until his retirement in 2011. Sandlin was winner of the National Press Photographers Association’s prestigious Joseph Costa Award in 2016. 

Phil Sandlin, along with Bruce Hall, Scott Harris, Bill Johnson, Warren Leary and Bob Murray were selected by a committee of their peers to be the 2017 Chroniclers. Brass strips engraved with their names have been added to the list, which recognizes retirees of the news and communications business who helped spread news of American space exploration from Kennedy Space Center for ten years or more. All are known for their excellence in communicating spaceflight’s stories to a global audience. 

“I’m humbled and honored being paired with so many newsmen and photographers on the wall at Kennedy Space Center. The space project was to me the most interesting and challenging of stories I covered during my career. All the work I did was only possible with the support of staffers and photographers that worked with me.” Sandlin said. 

For 50 years Sandlin has documented Florida's tumultous and often bizarre news for the Associated Press and United Press International, building a career and reputation as the consummate "wire man" who covered everything from the Civil Rights movement to space and lunar launches to refugees to presidential elections, hurricanes and other assorted coastal disasters. Along the way Sandlin also became known for his technical expertise, as well as mentoring young photographers and helping them build their own careers.
To view and enjoy Phil’s work visit his website:

Phil Sandlin at KSC. Photo by John Raoux

Joe Skipper, Alan Diaz, AP space writer Marcia Dunn, Johnsie Sandlin, Phil Sndlin, Terry RennaMarta Lavandier and John Raoux. Two other regulars, Peter Cosgrove and Chris O'Meara were unable to attend but were there in spirit. 

Phil Sandlin, at center, with former space shuttle astronaut and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana, right,  and KSC Communications Director Cheryl Hurst, at left. Photo by Joe Skipper

Photo by Joe Skipper
Photo by Joe Skipper

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Leica Lounge: with Ashley Sebok on Thursday & Sharon Socol on Saturday

Leica Lounge with Ashley Sebok

Tomorrow! May 4, 2017   |   7:00 - 8:30 PM   |   RSVP

If you're local, make sure to stop by Leica Store Miami for our monthly Leica Lounge series on Thursday, May 4, 2017. This month's presenter, photographer Ashley Sebok, will be discussing Tableau Photography. To learn more about Ashley and the Leica Lounge, click here.
As always, Leica Lounge is proudly sponsored by Brooklyn Brewery. Bring a friend and try out some of Brooklyn's latest brews.

Tel Aviv Ahkhshav by Sharon Socol

Customer Gallery Opening Reception
Saturday, May 6   |    5:30 - 7:00 PM   |   RSVP

We're excited to feature local photographer Sharon Socol in our customer gallery this Spring. Her series on Tel Aviv, shot with the Leica M Monochrom, depicts daily life in one of Israel's most vibrant cities. To learn more about Sharon, click here. To RSVP, email