As 2019 approaches, I reflect on the past year and the ways I have grown and the ways I can grow: the most important lesson I learned last year came from the great photographer Layne Murdoch Sr.
Layne was an incredibly accomplished photographer based in the Dallas, Texas area. He most recently worked as the team photographer for the NBA's Oklahoma City Thunder and New Orleans Pelicans. Sadly, Layne passed away on August 10, 2018 after a brief battle with cancer.
Professional sports photography tends to be an incredibly cliquish subset of photography: lots of people worrying about who shoots for whom, whether your outlet is good enough to be a part of the "in crowd," or even what gear you have.
No matter what field or court Layne stepped on, he was among the upper echelon of photographers. He could shoot as good or better than anyone else out there, he worked for some of the most respected clients. But he never treated anyone differently no matter how new they were, how talented they were, or who their client was.
I know this firsthand, because I had the privilege of meeting and getting to know Layne when I first started shooting and regularly shooting alongside him over the years, and my life is better because of that.
Layne never asked who I was shooting for, what camera I was using, or what my settings were. If he cared, he never showed it. He wasn't talking about his times mountain biking with President Bush or his other exciting clients and experiences. Instead, Layne would ask about my family, and share about his kids.
Layne showed me that he cared about me as a person. He called me "Aggie," as I am a Texas A&M graduate, but he knew the names of my children and asked about them by name. Layne always had a smile on his face and a laugh to share. Layne may have been the best photographer in the room, but he wasn't talking about f-stops; he was talking about his daughter Jenny's bakery or his daughter Sydney's horse riding. His family was what drove his world.
Layne had the respect and admiration of some of the world's best athletes and the most powerful heads of state, but I never heard Layne brag about that.
After Layne passed in August, I spent a good bit of time thinking about my interactions with him. As I go into 2019 and beyond, I am going to try to improve my life and hopefully the lives of the people around me by showing genuine interest in who they are and what they care about.
Layne Murdoch Sr.'s actions showed such a genuineness, sincerity, and love for other people, his legacy will be felt for generations to come. If we all acted like Layne and cared a little bit more about the people around us no matter who they are or what they can do for us, we will all be living Layne's legacy. Caring about others will improve your photography and your career more than how you angle your v-flat.
Lead image of Layne Murdoch laying across his family used with permission of Holly Murdoch and Jenny Layne Murdoch Fallis.