I didn't know him and I haven't read his books, but his articles and forum posts have showed up uncountable times when I have searched for information and opinions, and thanks to the internet they will continue to do so. Yesterday he helped me save money. I googled about a classic lens that I was interested in and found an article of his in which he said that he regretted selling his but that he would probably not have used it anyway if he had kept it. Instead of buying that lens on impulse it got me thinking about all the lenses I haven't even tried yet and are just sitting on a shelf.
Yesterday, with sadness already in my heart as I was coming home after photographing the carcass of Notre Dame Cathedral whose innards had burned the day before, I received a message from my long time friend and fellow American here in France, Frances Schulz, which added to my sadness: Roger Hicks, my friend and writing partner for the book, “Hollywood Portraits”, had died, earlier this month.
I hadn’t known. I’m sorry. In spite of the fact that Roger was and I am a resident of France, I just hadn’t known. I don’t follow the "analogue" websites as often as I used to, and Roger lived far from Paris and rarely returned my calls, so we weren’t in frequent contact.
I first met Roger and Frances when I worked at Freestyle Sales in Los Angeles in the late 1980s and they were regular customers. We hit it off immediately, in no small part, due to our common love of good humour and, of course, photography.
Roger was ingenious and inventive. He was also very intelligent —and sometimes immodest enough to tell you! He often bragged that he was a Mensan, and it’s true that he was a walking encyclopaedia of certain photographic information. As well, he knew many of the movers and shakers especially of analogue photography equipment and supplies; Photokina held few secrets from Roger (and Frances!).
Roger was certainly a colourful character. He would sometimes wear a monocle and, of course, sported a very dashing “Santa’s” beard that set him apart in a crowd. He may not have been a Bill Gates, but, in his own way, he lived a BIG life, travelling the world —even motoring all over a good part of Europe, he and Frances, on a Honda GoldWing until just several years ago.
Many of us are familiar with Roger and Frances’ articles in SHUTTERBUG magazine. As a writer, he had a keen gift of knowing how to create substantial and useful books and articles from simple ideas, like someone able to convert tin to silver, and Frances played no small part in those conversions. Roger’s running theme seemed to be, “I know this .. and I want to share it with you”. In this vein, our “Hollywood Portraits” book stemmed from our common desire to impart information that, seemingly, no one had previously done [on Hollywood portrait lighting, specifically].
It’s on this last point that I hope and believe Roger Hicks will be remembered: That he was generous with his knowledge and thusly helpful to thousands of budding —or even experienced— photographers (and cooks! as he also wrote cookbooks!).
Please think of him the next time you take, snap, capture —or whatever you want to call it nowadays. As well, why not send a warm word to Frances, to whom Roger was a loving and supportive husband, for they were truly a life-team.
† Goodbye, Roger. You did good, buddy. I hope I'll be remembered for doing as well.