The Salad Days: Photographing the Sporting Club in 1988 Key West

The skiff glided over a turtle grass-covered flat. I raised the viewfinder of my camera and trained it upon an angler. Russell Chatham, the esteemed painter and writer, stood casting, his eyes shaded by a visor. Amidships, Jim Harrison looked on. Several islands shimmered in the middle distance. Panning the Nikon to a second skiff, Thomas McGuane stood out against a vast expanse of blue sky scanning a flat. Writer and filmmaker Guy de la Valdène, co-director of the 1973 cult film Tarpon, sat looking bored. The ratcheting sound of the M3’s motor drive felt satisfying as I fired off several bursts. McGuane turned toward me and—when he realized the telephoto lens was trained upon him—stuck out his tongue, mocking me. 

Flats guide Harlan Franklin, white-bearded and wearing a Panama hat, tried to hold the skiff that acted as my platform steady. Key West lay several miles off in the distance. The camera felt cold in my hands. It was the spring of 1988; I was 37 years old and I was the photographer on what could be described as a dream magazine assignment…

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