One of my greatest privileges as a journalist was to research and write the story of Howard Bennett and his campaign in 1985 to force Los Angeles to clean up Santa Monica Bay. The result was the book, Dirty Water: One Man's Fight to Clean Up One of the World's Most Polluted Bays (University of California Press, 2010).
For the book's cover, I photographed Howard neck-deep in the bay in 2009. It's still one of my favorite portraits. I chose the surf location because for years Howard used to swim in the ocean, nearly every morning, for a half mile or more before he went to work as a teacher at Culver City High School. Logically, that's how he got involved in the fight to force the city to stop dumping millions of gallons of partially treated sewage in the bay everyday.
My wife and I recently visited Howard and his wife, Bente, at their Playa del Rey home. Howard still swims but now in a special pool they build in their backyard which abuts the Playa del Rey beach. Howard is still feisty at 85, but a little slower in other ways. While we were talking, I pulled out my camera and photographed both of them by the light coming through the windows overlooking the beach. They tolerated me without saying a word.
Two of my favorite people.