Photographer to Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson; master printer Nocon dies (update)
November 28, 2011
Master printer, photographer and author Gene Nocon FRPS, whose portrait of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson was used on a commemorative stamp to mark their wedding, has died aged 65.
Gene Nocon printed for many of the world?s top photographers and helped found the Royal Photographic Society (RPS) Distinctions panel for photographic printers, serving as its first chairman.
His clients during the 15 years he spent in London, before moving back to the United States, included Norman Parkinson, Cecil Beaton, Terence Donovan, Barry Lategan, Terry O?Neill, Linda McCartney and Prince Andrew, to whom he became photographic adviser.
Paying tribute, RPS director general Dr Michael Pritchard told Amateur Photographer (AP): ?Gene Nocon was a brilliant darkroom printer and an excellent teacher. When I was growing up in the 1980s he always seemed to be in the photographic press extolling his passion for photography, usually through master classes and workshops. His work for Ilford Ltd seemed to be a perfect match.
?Gene?s passion brings to close a particular era in silver printing, although contemporary printers such as Robin Bell are maintaining his legacy.?
Pritchard added: ?The Society is grateful to Gene for his work in establishing standards in photographic printing and, of course, it recognised the quality of his own work with a Fellowship of the Society.?
Born in the Philippines, Gene began his career as a photographic printer in the US military for the Stars and Stripes newspaper in the 1970s, his skills earning him the Ilford Printer of the Year award in 1980.
Gene recalled how his links with the Duke of York began when Prince Andrew strolled into a photographic workshop he was running.
He went on to play a key role in organising the photography for the prince?s wedding to Sarah Ferguson in 1986.
Gene delivered many lectures and workshops at venues including the National Portrait Gallery in London in 2006.
He also wrote the books Photographic Printing and Nocon on Photography ? the latter lending its name to a TV series for Thames Television.
Gene said he considered Norman Parkinson to be the greatest photographer he ever printed for.
Describing how he met the legend at a book signing, Gene told photo supplies catalogue Freestyle in 2005: ?As he signed my book, he asked me what I did for a living. I told him I was a b&w printer, whereupon he looked up, pointed to someone behind him and asked me to give him my name and telephone number.
?The following week he was on my doorstep with a commercial job that he needed printed [his regular printer was on holiday].’
Gene?s tie-up with Prince Andrew led the prince to publish a set of Royal Mail stamps featuring the castles of Great Britain.
Working with the Duchess of York in 1987, Gene helped organise what was credited at the time as Britain’s largest-ever photographic event.
On 13 August 1987 thousands of people took pictures to capture a moment in their lives on that day – the project resulting in a book sold to raise funds for cancer research.
Gene embraced digital, saying it had renewed his interest in photography, but he was critical of the quality of prints made by some young photographers with whom he came into contact.
?The point is that Photoshop, to the uninitiated, is like trying to use a calculator without any fundamental understanding of the math,? he said.
Gene died in San Diego, California on 20 November.
AP understands that he died following a heart attack.