What can I say?  I’ve been sitting at home for weeks thinking about life, love and friends.  I’ve been thinking about my life and best friend for weeks now.  What can I say about my great friend Gary Koepke?  

First I’m gonna start with a bit of history… way back in 1985-ish I shot my first music shoot with music producer Keith Forsey (Billy Idol, Charlie Sexton).  I made a promo card and mailed it out to ALL the magazines at that time.  The only response I got was from Gary Koepke at Musician Magazine in Gloucester, Massachusetts.  He hired me to shoot Joe Zawinul from the jazz fusion group Weather Report.  This was my first official musician shoot for a client.  This was BIG for me.  You have NO idea how excited I was to shoot for and then be published in Musician Magazine!!!  OMFG!

A month later Gary asked me if I could shoot my idol Maurice White from Earth, Wind and Fire!!!  I almost died when he asked and that shoot changed my life.  That was the shoot that made me want to shoot musicians for the rest of my life!  I wanted to meet and shoot all my musical heroes!  Gary started giving me SO many great shoots and made me the West Coast photographer for Musician Magazine.  There was Robbie Robertson, George Harrison, Wayne Shorter, Philip Bailey, T-Bone Burnett, Jimmy Iovine, The Blasters, Bonnie Raitt and SO many more.  These shoots opened every door in the music industry and started my career in music photography.

We built a solid work relationship.  I learned everything I know about design from Gary.  I learned about working with a creative directors and how to get them what they need.  He was always showing and teaching me everything I could handle.  We built a personal relationship that I am beyond grateful for.  He moved on from Musician Magazine and did more editorial work.  He started Vibe Magazine and saved SO many other magazines with his design and creativity.  No matter where he went, he trusted me and hired me.

He moved on from the editorial world and jumped into advertising.  He did more than most and did it better than most.  When I would see him, we would talk creativity and laugh about the good old days.  We both loved what we did and we knew we were lucky.  Gary was a legend in the creative/advertising/design world.  He always made me look good and I looked forward to every job he hired me for.  He knew how to challenge me and push me to be my best and do my best.  There’s your history lesson.

Hearing of his passing has hurt me to my core.  I loved Gary and everything he was.  He was the best of the best, a great friend, the best client, the greatest creative director I ever worked with and most of all he was my hero.  I’m going to miss Gary everyday.  I’m gonna think of him at every exhibition, cuz so many of my iconic photos are because of him.  I owe him my career and I will always be grateful.  I’m gonna think of him every time I shoot and hear his words in my head… “Do more!”

Thank you Gary for everything and I will miss you always!!!