Ok here goes. My husband, Richard Blinkoff, wrote a few days ago and I haven't been able to even look at the entries. I think I am still in shock. Michael was one of the most engaged, enthusiastic, open people I have ever known. We have been working together, as Richard said, for about 17 years. Over that time, we have traveled together, photographed together, shared about journeys and challenges and brainstormed about new approaches in both profession and personal life. I guess Michael and I also shared that perspective of blending our work and play. They so intermingled and enhanced each other.
And so when a videographer emailed me that he was sorry to have heard about Michael, I was sure there was some mistake, another Michael Vitti, there had to be a mistake. We hadn't had our lunch date that we were planning, we were supposed to be working together this Sunday. No, it couldn't be Michael.
Since I heard the news, I have been flooded with memories. So many of his photographs are mingled with mine and it feels like seeing through his eyes. I'm not good with words but thought I would share a few memories.
My husband said he never saw Michael angry. The one time I saw Michael angry was when we were shooting a wedding. He rarely complained about anything but had seen the wedding planner speak so harshly to the kitchen staff (and us as well) that one of the staff started crying. Michael told me not to call him for any job with that planner. He said he didn't care how much money it was, he would not work with her again. That was Michael.
There was the time on location when he locked the keys in the car in the middle of central park, and the time he left the camera in the church. We laughed about those for years. Somehow, he always solved the problem, whatever it was.
Michael was always able to keep perspective. He was able to prioritize and enjoy what he was doing even under pressure. He never seemed to take his talent and creativity too seriously even though he was very serious about both. He seemed to approach new and old situations with a fresh eye and ironically, a sense of having all the time in the world. And at the same time, he was totally in the moment.
There were the surprises like the full frontal nude of the groom before putting on his tux. There were the amazing shutter drag shots with Michael's keen eye and unbelievably steady hands. He could hold the camera still at 1/6 of a second, perhaps because of his inner calm, his roll with the punches nature.
Michael was always so passionate and engaged, often sharing tech information that was so far above my head I just watched him explain and listened to the words as if a they were a song not understanding what he was talking about. But he was patient and so generous with knowledge and information whether about photography, computer skills, video or insight into life.
I loved his big bear like body and his quiet smile that could erupt into a blown out laugh and his eyes would get squinty and his whole being was filled with laughter. And I would have to laugh.
I will miss his baseball caps and his "outdoor" clothing and his rugged shoes and pouches and packs and Barneys Warehouse specials and silver lariot and the way he carried his gear and held a frisbee....so many things. I have to cry.
Michael was such a gift. He was such a bright spirit.
Our dogs knew him as Uncle Mikey. He was loved by Jake, our yellow lab, who we lost about 5 years ago and Milo, our black shaggy poodle, who was always happy to play ball with Uncle Mikey and our newest, Rufus, who Michael literally helped us housetrain. Although Michael complained, while laughing, that he couldn't get Rufus to stop eating the wee wee pads.
There were dog shoots and horse shoots and location shoots and studio shoots. Michael was interested in every animal and every person and of course, the things. There were the nights in Times Square, or the deserted swing or the abstract snow or the candle light. And there were so many people that Michael just took into his being. I would look over and Michael would always have found a new person to talk to and have made a new connection and a new adventure. And he would always talk about these people by their first names, as if we had all been friends for our whole lives. I never felt a wall from Michael the way some people construct walls to keep others out. Michael was always welcoming and present.
He appreciated my family and always spoke so lovingly about his own. I loved that he had a sister named Sharon; and that he shot my nephew Michael's Bar Mitzvah. He watched our daughter Rachel grow up and I listened to him describe his nieces as they grew.
I hope he knew how very much I love him and how much he meant to my whole family. I will really miss him.