Mary Ann had had chemotherapy once, but her hair was still strong. She was self-conscious about the cuts where her breasts had been, and she hadn’t yet had reconstructive surgery. She posed carefully, and she trusted me not to choose pictures that showed her scars.


The editor-in-chief changed at Fortune this year, and after one too many fights on behalf of her photographers, Alice Rose George, who’d given me so many assignments, left the magazine. One of the first assignments the new editor gave me was to make the pictures for an article about Martin Marietta. The first day I went to the facility where they made the central fuel tank for the space shuttle. It was one of those days when my boyhood fantasies about fighter jets and spaceships came to life in a place and time that I could express with my camera. In other words, the planets lined up. When the editors in New York viewed this day’s work, they started talking about a photo portfolio to go with the article.


The next day, at another Martin facility, I was presented with this missile guidance system, the blob of mechanics on the table. I laboriously constructed the picture above, balancing light sources, getting the models’ hands and eyeballs in place. When the editors in New York saw it, they were livid. No sense of humor, I guess. The talk of a photo portfolio withered, and my glorious 150-assignment run at Fortune magazine soon came to a dead halt.


I began to get work from the various special magazines at the New York Times, on business, on the city itself, and I continued to work for Forbes and other magazines.

Kelly Nowels