This past week Don Busath, a master photographer and someone who I consider one of my mentors passed away. I met Don in 2010 when Becca and I moved to Salt Lake City. Our first Sunday there, I sat down in a pew at church felt a soft tap on my shoulder. When I turned around to see who it was, Don introduced himself and his wife Donna.
During the next few years Don was very gracious to assist me with photographs and interviews for three documentaries (Salt Lake City: A Downtown Story, Brigham Street: Salt Lake City's Grand Boulevard and Temple Square). I enjoyed getting to know Don during this time and was inspired by his images and personal history.
Don grew up in Salt Lake City and was introduced to photography as a teenager by his uncle. At age 18 he purchased his first camera and was hooked. After getting married and starting a family, Don worked as a ventilation mechanic in a downtown Salt Lake City office building and played trombone in the evening to support his family.
With what spare time he had, Don did freelance portraits for friends and neighbors. From his first roll of film, Don always saw himself as a professional and worked like one. Eventually Don was able to get a job working for Hal Rumel at his photo studio. This relationship lasted fifteen years and gave Don experience doing a variety of work including portraiture, aerials and commercial photography.
Eventually Rumel retired and Don and his wife Donna opened their own studio on State Street in Salt Lake City. Later the studio moved east a few blocks to a historic home on South Temple.
Don was well known for his ability to tell a story in a single portrait image. When I interviewed Don in 2012 for my documentary "Brigham Street," I asked if he'd stay an extra hour and let me ask him questions about his photographs. Since that time, I have approached each documentary interview I do like one of Don Busath's portrait sessions. I ask myself where I can I place my interview subject so that the viewer is not only able to hear their comments, but get a glimpse into their personality and life.
Here are several of Don's photographs and a short video I created from Don's comments about his portraiture style and passion for photography.