June 3, 2004 by

Simon Nathan


Categories: Artists, Scientists, Writers/Editors

Simon Morris Nathan, the author of the popular “Simon Sez” photography column, died on May 19. Cause of death was not released. He was 82.
The Westview, Pa., native graduated from the University of Dayton. His “Simon Sez” photography column debuted in the 1950s. Popular with professionals and hobbyists seeking up-to-date information on camera innovations, the column appeared in Popular Photography, Modern Photography and other magazines. Nathan also wrote several books, including “Camera in Paris,” “Good Photography’s 35mm Handbook” and “Good Photography’s Darkroom Guide.”
A talented shooter in his own right, Nathan specialized in panoramic photography. Although he spent most of his life living in the New York City area, Nathan also traveled extensively on writing and photography assignments. In 1962, he carried three different panoramic cameras to the South Pole.
Nathan also created still photography for nine James Bond films, and took the panoramic photo of the United Nations that appears on a U.N. postage stamp. While working for the Flying Tigers freight line, he developed a hand-held camera that was capable of producing undistorted, large-format photos.

46 Responses to Simon Nathan

  1. W.J.Markerink

    For those who did not know Simon in his later years, it might be a bit comforting to know that he was a very active contributor to the Panorama Photography Mailinglist, despite his growing handicaps, until 1-2 years ago.
    Yes, that’s 80 years old; he was the oldest Net-user I knew 5 years ago, (when I first met him online), and still is.
    One of the reasons he also sent me snail-mail stuff (old articles/collumns), apart from sharing a passion for panorama photography, is that Simon was a scholar from late photographer Frits Rotgans, a Dutchman, like me.
    And inbetween I also helped him finding another old friend he lost track of in Holland (talk about a small world: I noticed a rare type of panorama camera (Hulcherama) in a Dutch shop, wrote all spec’s down, including serial number (very low, that made it interesting), and told Simon about it….turned out that Simon was the spiritual father of that camera, a quick check at the factory revealed that it once belonged to this old Dutch friend (Bart Mulder, mostly known for his panorama’s of Schiphol airport, the last main reconstruction of 2-3 decades ago).
    Hence the trigger to start looking for his friend Bart too….Smile)
    And, as said, not just the oldest Net-user I knew, but on top of that handicapped after a stroke, typing with one hand/finger, poor vision requiring a HTML-font size of 40 or so (my address on his snail mail letters to me were also printed very large).
    My hat off for this remarkable bundle of energy, full of pranks, always digging up old & forgotten/never-told details of camera-production & prototypes, never too shy to ruffle some feathers and stepping on some toes, sharing his wonderful passion with others until the very last.
    Dear Simon,
    I truely wish I had known you earlier, before your last trip to Holland, and meeting you in person.
    You will be my favorite sample of how to get old without ever really retiring, for a long time to come.
    Goodbye dear Friend, the world has lost a great writer, photographer and inventor, may heaven reward you with an even wider view on the world than you have given us in all the years.
    Let those heads spin up there!….Wink)
    PS, as yet another almost forgotten detail, even including space-travel history, a recent note from Edward Meyers, his old editor at Pop Photo:
    In the 1960s to the 1980s Simon often came to my home for dinner.
    In the 1970s he told me to pick up a friend of his from the local
    airport and bring him to my home for dinner. So I brought Jeff Bremmer
    to my home. Simon brought Jerry Brown, also for dinner. Bremmer
    worked for NASA and Brown worked for Nikon. Over my dinner table
    they discussed taking the Nikon camera into space.
    Many things like this happened with Simon. Ed
    And, much less mundane:
    On The.
    Here’s another one.
    Simon walked into my office at Pop Photo the day his column
    was due (I was his editor). I ask, where is your column? He
    answers, I started it, he replied. How much is done? I ask.
    He says, “first word….The”…give me a typewriter…can
    I have my check today?”
    My telephone rings. I answer it. It’s a famous P.R. person
    from a big photo company. He says that he just received a
    postcard from Simon which has the letters G S I Y H on it.
    What does this mean, he asks me, as Simon is rolling in
    laughter on the floor. (Go **** In Your Hat). I answer,
    George Santayana Is Your Hero. I saved the day, again. Ed
    And, one of my favorites:
    Ajit Cheema wrote:
    > —– Original Message —–
    > From:Simon Nathan
    > To: Ajit Cheema
    > Sent: Thursday, September 23, 1999 12:38 AM
    > Subject: QUESTION
    > I did at one time – one each of your stamp and John Isaacs stamp. Jane
    > hung on to everything I had except the shirt I wore…. Literally.
    > John told me a funny story about half a potty seat. IS IT TRUE? LOL
    > Ajit
    dear ajit- please print your snail mail address so i can copy it onto
    envelopes.i do not know the abbreviation LOL. the potty seat is
    explained herewith by the the originator, no matter what john isaacs has
    told you. this is farm joke my brother bob told me some years back. guy
    goes into a hardware store and he says to the clerk: “i wanna buy half a
    toilet seat for my half ass brother.” to straighten out my frequent
    flyer acct with northwest airlines about 1985/6 i awarded then one such,
    lettered for their half ass ff program. i sent it to the boss of vp
    running ff program at nwa. it did get straightened out. i’d used this
    with kodak before that. i buy brand new toilet seats, usually white, and
    personally saw them in half. on this subject i will save the fuji
    presentation till we can face to face. it was at the united nations when
    they honored me with luncheon when panoramic stamp came out, 1989. going
    through security guard asked if i hadda take all that stuff with me. i
    said i was being honored at luncheon in delagates dining room. he peered
    into open shopiing bag, “a toilet seat?” i beg your pardon, sir, but
    that is half a toilet seat! lots more to the story.isaacs wasn’t there,
    heard it from jan ralph who was. signed-simon
    Would love to hear any similar stories in Bond-context, (which I knew *nothing* about btw….Simon never told me, the bastard….Smile).
    Perhaps even from film-crews of that time, if any of those hangs around here?
    (actually, one of the members on the Panorama Photography Mailinglist asked for this kind of anecdotes/documentation too, to create some kind of record about the life of famous panorama photographers….so if anyone knows anything (or anybody of that time) in the Bond-context too: the sharing is for a good cause!

  2. Nancy Nathan

    Thank-you all for you stories . I know some of you and some of the stories but my Dad traveled extensively so many names are new. Who could keep up with his exhuberant pace?. He used to say “i live on Delta airlines. I have many stories to tell from s a different view. My Dad. As a young child I was the only one whose father wore a magic marker belt (made by my Uncle Bob) so he would always be ready to create and color something. The legacy continues on a mini scale. I am a tad under the weather and I miss thos bright blue eyes and laugter something fierce. I will write a bit more soon.
    Nancy Nathan #1 daughter

    • Gary Takourian

      Nancy this is Gary Takourian ARA’s son , long time no see. What I writing about is do you have the photos of my dad that was the front cover of him and the family on how to build 20 boats? we have them in black and white when he was building the boat . It was foster publications . Gary

  3. Fred Thomas

    Seeing Simon’s obit in the NY Times was a sad shock. I knew Simon for many years and we spent a lot of time together traveling in Europe. I was a helper on several of his books and am the young man (then) that appears in several ‘Camera in Paris’ articles.
    He was an odd man with a truly original mind and, at times, could be difficult, but was usually a wonder and pleasure to be with. Simon was a loyal friend and a unique person who will be sorely missed.
    Fred Thomas

  4. Harley Ferguson

    I met Simon in late 1975. We were about the same size, a size that is difficult to fit in Japan where I live.
    In May 1977 my house burned and I was left with the clothes on my back basically. Simon emptied his closet into a couple of suitcases, hopped a plane and flew into Narita. He emptied the suticases at my house and HE left with the clothes on his back, and I had a restocked closet including a red, white and blue sports jacket. If you knew Simon you know about red, white and blue.

  5. Nancy Nathan

    I haven’t forgotten that I was planning a memorial to Simon ,a sort of Simon story gathering of sorts equipped with a diverse collection of his famous envelopes, post cards, prints?, favorite ice cream flavors and lots of laughter. Many heartfelt tears have accompanied these past few months. I miss so !!!!
    Please send me a line or two with an email address, snail mail or phone #. The hardest thing is trying to figure out who to invite and how to coordinate it all. All idea welcome.
    Nancy #1 daughter

  6. Jane Hanstein Cunniffe

    I met Simon in the early 90’s when he was in his late sixties. He was visiting my Art Director [frog collector] Jack McKie. I was a copywriter and collector of artichokes. For the next ten years or so, I had the great privilege of receiving S-s-s-simon envelopes, clippings, popsicle sticks, postcards and Wendy’s wrappers nearly every day. I also got to accompany him on two trips once to Japan, once China (in 1992 & 1993). My favorite Simon story happened in Hong Kong when, knowing I how much I hate cologne and aftershave, after a petty disagreement, he whipped a tiny perfume sampler out of his pocket and smeared it all over his face. We got to spend the rest of the day walking around by ourselves. Simon was a one in a million and I’m honored have had him for a friend.

  7. Harley Ferguson

    It has been almost a year since simon left us. I still miss him and I just noticed that I still have 10-15 cans of slim-fast on top of my cabinet that he brought me in his suitcase in the early 90s to help me lose my big gut – I did, but it came back bigger than ever.
    Does anybody remember simon’s self-published
    Simon Says Photography Newsletter from the 80s? I think I have every copy except one possibly.

  8. Mary Bloom

    I keep thinking I will stop missing him as you do most people after a while.
    I realize that day will never come. He was a force and cared for all of us in a very sincere way.
    I could never match his unending energy and enthusiasm for this life. He truly was the most remarkable person I ever met.

  9. Harley Ferguson

    Today (05/11/13) a young Japanese photographer that I met thru Simon 18 years ago dropped by my house to bring me a White Sox cap (He had just finished covering the world series and White Sox second baseman Iguchi.) and a shopping bag heavy with American car and computer magazines which he had hauled all the way back to japan for me.
    Simon affected people that way.

  10. J-J-Jane Hanstein Cunniffe

    Today (1-28-06) is S-S-S-Simon’s half birthday.
    I guess it would have been 84.5 What a great loss for the postal service, walt burton, and everyone who knew him.

  11. Nancy Nathan

    SIGN IN FOR SIMON.It is almost 3 years to the date since my Dad physically left the planet. AS each day passes it hasn’t become any easier not having him to call or get a postcard from. I miss himm terribly. What makes it so hard is since he was ALWAYS traveling I just think he will call me soon and meet me for lunch with some neet new marker or toy,gadget,camer,pix or whatever. He sometimes couldn’t wait to show me something he thought was NEET and would stop by my job. I wish he would just stop by. On the other hand I know he is around as the breakfast cereal and ice cream companies are still catering to his Sweet Tooth. Things I miss His Energy, His mail, and most of his exhuberance and sense of humor. Other things I miss are hearing from his friends. I still am working on a small booklet of best Simon stories. I know I’ve been absent (really sick) but am happy to report am on themend , even walking!! PLease send any Simon stories to nnathan@mindspring.com THanx to you all.
    #1 daughter Nancy Nathan

  12. JIm Felt

    I may be the only fan of Simon’s who has has a nearly complete collection of his wonderful snail mailed newsletter from God know how long ago. He and a fellow in the Rocky Mountain area named Jim Elder who appeared in Camera 35 were my two main photographic inspirations/heroes doing my very extended youth. We’re talking early Sixties on. Wish I could have met the man!
    Sorry to post so darn late but better late than never…

  13. Nancy Nathan

    Jim Felt.Hi Can you email me you phone number I would love to talk with you or you can email me at nnathan@mindspring.com . When I read you post I smiled and have wanted to say how much I miss getting snail mail from my Dad. It was the one constant in my life.Messages changed and content of the envelope but for 47 years plus it was my main form of communication from my dad.I used to draw on envelopes with Fawcett publications return address when my dad was writing some of his early photo how to books. My mom still has them . They look great and have the embossed 2 or 3 cent stamp on them. The remainder of my life I almost always received a post card saying. “Can you guess which one of your parents is on a 757 on the way to Frankfurt?” or wherever he was on his way to.Unsigned. He thought this was soo funny and I loved knowing where he was. My memories of drawing,painting,stamping envelopes both for and with him are vivid as the colors and designs he so often used. Someone thought Simon had arranged for someone to keep sending mail in his style as a sort of “I am still here” joke, but he was way too sick to have orchestrated that. I wish I had, it would have made him laugh. Other than his technological knowledge, his quick wit, uncanny timing and many more endearing and sometimes not so endearing qualities, the single thing almost everyone saved was envelopes from Simon.
    I miss him sooo much
    Nancy Nathan #1 daughter

  14. Lynn Jones

    To the children and friends of Simon Nathan:
    I’ve known Simon since early in 1964 when I left the industrial motion picture industry and went to the original Calumet making view cameras, lenses, lab equipment and shooting all the photos for the advertising and cataloging, we did everything in those days.
    It is hard to to explain Simon, he had a great mind for photographic technology, cameras, and was a terrific writer, I know because I contributed hundreds of photo magazine articles and he was better at it than all of our contemporaries. But, he was also “Crazy Simon” with a wild sense of humor. Some of our friends like Paul Farber, Ed Meyers, Burt Keppler and others liked to trade Simon Nathan stories.
    And Nancy, I remember the magic marker belt as well. I received dozens of decorated post cards from him. In some cases he would send a letter to me, ONE DECORATED WORD at a time, taking weeks to get the message. Simon aften talked about his daughter and son, although I didn’t meet you, it was as though I knew you.
    The story of buying a manikin and dressing it in a Batman costume for his daughter’s birthday or taking his son (on his birthday) to the pier where he confessed that he owned a ship. At the ship he had someone paint on the stack of the ship, “A Simon Nathan Production” (naturally he got into trouble for that – but that was normal too). Then he and Fred Thomas conned John Durniak that into believing that Fred was going to introduce an 8×10 SLR, it became a huge joke in our industry. When I lived in Redondo Beach the door bell rang at around 2:00 AM, I stumbled to the door and it was Simon, “Lynn, do you and Gena mind if I sleep on your couch”. “Of course” I said yes but asked why he wasn’t staying at his brother’s house only only 10 minutes away and his answer was that his sister in law was mad at him and he “wasn’t welcome”. This had to do with hundreds of post cards and letters sent to his brother about one of his jokes, the infamous Illinois license plate scam. Of course you may remember the letter from the psychiatrist from the Menninger Clinic assuring the world that Simon was sane.
    We had many famously funny stories about Simon that we (his friends) shared, however, we all openly agreed that he was the best photo writer we ever knew, and he was equally a very good photographer as well as a true expert in wide field work. I spent many hours in his studio/lab in the basement of the “Corsetorium” in the city where we shared a great deal of information about photography developments.
    I’m sorry that I had to find out Simon’s death here on the internet. A while back my emails to him were returned and an acquaintance said that he had been ill, so this morning I pulled up Simon Wide and Simon nathan and found this. I’m a professor of Photographic Technology among and among other things I teach a course in Photo History, Simon will be one of the subjects of my classes.
    I hope this reaches you all,
    Lynn lynn@austincc.edu (512) 223 4795
    Prof. H. Lynn Jones
    Formerly with The Rangefinder and Photo Lab Mgmt.

  15. Nancy Nathan

    Hi all,
    3 years and still missing him. No one to keep me and my marker collection up to snuff. No one who appreciates lean Cuisine’s latest flavor combo,no one to keep my wit sharp. That and many many more things are pat of whom my Dad was too me. I am smarter, stronger, quick witted , often self ritcheous, more creative and certainly for the most part a better person for having had my Dad be who he was. Thanks Dad, for the good , the bad and all that came between . I found a penny today , Gram would be smiling.Loe always
    nancy#1 and only daughter

  16. nancy nathan

    Happy almost Birthday Dad,
    You never liked store bought cards . Why would you. You did love receiving postcards with heart cut out punches Saying whomever finds this I love you. I miss getting mail from you as I imagine so may others do too. Dad you would love that your envelopes seem to be the single most item saved by those lucky and some unlucky receipts of your mail. from the brown nose to apparent brown smeared paint across the envelope to the coordinating stamps with postmarks world wide. I just miss it all, you lean cuisine, chinese food , new markers, nifty toys,niftier ideas and the ability to make me feel I could achieve anything. You were tough , a tough act to follow as we would say post Betty W days. I love you and always have you in my thoughts, heart and mind. pretty mushy stuff for Sim.
    Your#1 and only daughter

  17. Nancy Nathan

    Happy Birthday Dad
    Today he would have been 86. his dad lived into his 90’s as seems to be the gift of the nathan genes. So much to miss, life is less colorful with him not on the planet. But his color , candor , quick wit and unique style lives with me in spirit
    Love # 1 daugter
    nancy 917 312 6750

  18. silvio

    Dear sirs: like a photo amateur 1st and professional later, I always remember articles in publications like Pop Photo, a permanent reference guide, and publications like the 35 mm
    Sincerely yours,Silvio Andrade

  19. Madison Brown

    From all the 88 DeCamp Bus Drivers You will surely
    be missed. I was one of the fortunate drivers to recive a postcard, or large brown envelope from all over the globe….Thank you for thinking about me all those years… madison

  20. Denise

    I came to know Simon as his potential rep and things developed into a friendship. We traveled to Japan and I was the recipient of many, many, many painted postcards and letters from all over the world (but mostly NY). He was a true inspiration and I miss him like you read about. His apartment was always cluttered to the ceiling with the most unusual photographs and newspapers and everything under the sun… When we were in Japan, he bought me two watches and threw his wristwatch into the ocean…. and said “Now, I’ll always know where my watch is.”…. He was truly a one of a kind…. uniquely original individual… Wish I had spent more time with him.

  21. Ray Ninness

    Simon inspired in me the desire to see the Eiffel Tower someday. I read his book Camera in Paris when it was fisrt published and I still have several of his original books. In 1997 I went to Paris on my way to shoot the 24 Hour of Lemans. While my stay in Paris was limited I was able to get to the twoer and shoot a few images. My photography partner thought I was a nut hugging the tower and carrying on, but for me it was a full circle experience. When I got home I published a shot of the Eiffle Tower on my webpage. A shot looking up under the twoer, and in the caption I wrote To Simon Nathan, Thanks for the Dream. Several years later I got an email from Simon, which totally blew me away. Someone had told him about my tribute and the image. He asked if I had colorized one of his images, but he didn’t recognize the image. I explained the background behind the image. We exchanged emails for a while and I was totally surprised about how he had to type with one finger, wasn’t doing well physically, but still managed to seek me out and inquire. I can only hope to be that aware and alive when I reach his age.
    Today I was wondering about Simon, no reason just one of those things that pass through your mind, sometimes you act on them other times it’s just a fleeting thought. Sorry to be so late Simon, thnaks and God Speed
    Ray Ninness
    Bedford, NH

  22. Marvin Christian

    Simon, Simon. I should have known you were gone. I received a call today from someone looking for one of your images and thought I might know were to look. The last time we were in touch I knew you were having problems, but you were Simon Nathan and problems were not that big a deal. We met at Mayfield Studios in Dayton, Ohio back in the fifties. Bill Mayfield was a big fan and proud of what he had taught you and you were a Mayfield booster in many of your stories.
    I too toured the 79th street red, white, and blue apartment, had chinese and collected a file folder of mailings from all over the world. On one of your last trips to Dayton we visited the old Mayfield Studio site, swapped stories, and had dinner. I asked if you would like to put your camera gear in the car’s trunk and heard, “A COWBOY NEVER LEAVES HIS HORSE”. Since then, I have never “left my horse”. Miss you friend, may you never run out of film wherever you are. Marvin Christian

  23. Agnes Krauss

    I met Simon , around 1990 as his presence at Visual Miracles, on 19th street stopped me from whatever I was doing. He came to reproduce some images from 35 mm or 4×5 chromes. I don’t exactly remember . He had such enthusiasm and energy and joy of satisfaction that it left an impression. To his daughter Nancy my deepest sympathy. It has been years and today I was going through some old files and found the envelope ,he so graciously gave me to remember him. It was of the first day issue United Nations stamp.He was so proud as well he should be. I wanted to e mail him and tell him I have kept the memory. I just found out he no longer is with us in body but his spirit lives on and he is here to enlighten those who do not have his visions.

  24. Harley Ferguson

    In Japan, the death date is more important than the birthday. Yesterday was the fourth anniversary (or fifth, the way buddhist count) of Simon’s death.
    I thought about him at the temple.
    We all still miss you Simon! Unique is one of the most misused words in the language, but it fits Simon M. Nathan to a “T”.

  25. Harley Ferguson

    While reviewing earlier post, i found I had made a mistake. In June of 2004 I wrote, “I met Simon in late 1975. We were about the same size, a size that is difficult to fit in Japan where I live.
    In May 1977 my house burned and I was left with the clothes on my back basically. Simon emptied his closet into a couple of suitcases, hopped a plane and flew into Narita.”
    Actually Narita opened May 20, 1978, so Simon’s visit in 1977 was probably his last flight into Haneda. (Simon visited Japan over 100 times.) I remember driving Simon out to see the as yet unopened Narita. Simon had a great interest in anything about aviation, inclding unopened airports!

  26. Bill Dailey

    Not sure what caused me to Google you this evening after all these years but it does seem a lifetime ago when last we saw each other in Japan – 1984/85. We did get the Public relations peoples’ panties in a bunch that day… Paul, James, you and I. Should have sent copies of the Stars & Stripes more often – I know.
    I think of you often when I walk into a Wendy’s today… and subconsciously critique each one.
    You were missed before you were gone.

  27. Harley Ferguson

    July 28, 1921 was 87 years ago today. Our great buddy Simon Morris Nathan was born that day.
    Simon, if you are monitoring this blog up there,

  28. Harley Ferguson

    Yesterday (July 28) was Simon’s 87th birthday. I posted a Happy Birthday yesterday, but it didn’t make the cut I guess.

  29. Denise Lauren

    Oh My Sweet Simon is so missed. We met in the early 80’s. I “tried” to be his photo rep, but instead became his girlfriend. He took me to Japan and it was a trip I shall never forget. Oh, and I do have so many painted envelopes that he was famous for. I always got alot of Simon mail. Priceless. Hello to Nancy..I live in Florida now. I also got to shoot at the United Nations (rooftop) and when Regan was Prez. Once in a lifetime photo opps. The amazing Simon lives on in our memories.

  30. #1 daughter Nancy

    It is unbelievably hard for me to believe 5 years has passed since Simon left us. I went back to school and finished a grad degree. Simon was at my last graduation in his wheel chair. I know he will be with me here too. He loved for people to learn. School life experience, studying Baskin Robin flavors anyway I miss him so
    Nancy #1 daughter

  31. Jeff Lowenthal

    Dear Nancy–
    I have some photographs of Simon when he came to visit me in Fairfield, IA. He brought with him proofs of Jazzbo Collins daughter’s wedding, which he convinced me to fly to San Francisco and shoot with him. “One rule: We don’t shoot anything anybody asks for, ONLY what WE want.”
    We went through the proof prints, and selected the worst of the worst outtakes, put them into the cheapest album we could find at Walmart, and sent them off by FedEx.
    Then, a week later a sent the real pictures to the bride. Funny!
    Send me your e-mail, and I’ll send you some stuff.
    Jeff Lowenthal

  32. Nancy Nathan

    Another year has passed aa the 28th of July passes once more. Simon would have been 89. Happy Birthday Dad I miss you soooooo. Denise can you write me at my email addresss? Still working on the booklet of Simon stories. Anybody wanting to send me their fav Simon story I have quite the collection. I get great joy reading them . I started this 6 years ago and was going to give it to Simon but he passed before I got it together. I guess now it is mostly for David and I and my daughter ( now married)
    Who knows what it coyld end up. I am certain there are many people tht would enjoy reading some of it. It was a Simon thing
    #1 daughter Nancy Nathan

  33. Jim Elder

    Oh, Simon, how I miss you. First met Simon when he came to Jackson Hole Wyoming working on the Mountain Man epic. We had only known each other by our columns in Camera 35—never met or even corresponded. Phone rang. My wife answered. “Is the dummy there?” Lee asked which dummy. “The one who smarts off in Camera 35.”
    Simon: “Hey, dummy, want to buy you lunch. You choose where and be on time because I have to go out and watch Charlton Heston splash through the Snake River chased by 3,000 Indians, but they won’t catch him because they read the script.”
    That started a many-year friendship. I often stayed at his apartment(s) when in New York. My artist daughter, who also became a member of the Simon “family,” spent a week or two trying to organize his second apartment. Really failed at that, but introduced him to acrylic paint, which anyone who got his wonderful letters and clippings saw them when he switched from felt pens to the bold swatches of paint.
    Simon also flew on short notice from NY to Bozeman MY to be there when my daughter flew home from Texas after her 35 yr. old husband died of cancer. Stayed just long enough to give her a sincere hug, a shoulder on which to cry, and then flew back to NYC.
    On my 60th birthday my wife and Simon conspired to smuggle him into Jackson, hide him in a hotel overnight, and then have him burst into the party. Plans got modified, however, because my wife and I were suddenly caught up in the final cleanup of an apartment we had built over our garage—a couple who had agreed to rent had just called and were on their way. So Suzanne called Simon, then picked him up in town, and put him to work, wearing a long black overcoat and huge yellow snow boots, carrying stuff down steps, through the deep snow, and just in time ready for the new renters.
    I remember when he discovered “Clap Light Switches.” Installed them all over the apartment. I found the sensitivty adjustment, changed it, and then told Simon the switches had decided to only answer to me (I clapped more forcefully and sort of “aimed” the sound toward the switch. Simon countered by turning them off completely, so we were stumbling around dark halls, which he of course knew intimately. I had to confess and turn the damn things on.
    On time when I was in New York lining up work Simon asked if I never worked on spec. I told him NO and he said I should never do it. The next day I had an appointment with a certain editor from whom I was sure I would get a firm assignment on a project we had discussed on the phone. With a straight face, the editor said he would only agree to a spec “assignment.” Then his phone rang. It was Simon. Wanted to talk to Jim Elder. Simon says “tell John I said it was OK to make it a firm assignment. Or better yet, put John on.” They shared a laugh. Editor John hung up, and told me Simon said I should ask for more money. So I did, and got it.
    Other wonderful memories that escape me now, but the last time I saw Simon he was living in New Jersey. I called, hoping to have a chance to visit. Told him my wife and I were heading to Virginia to do a story. He said I could not visit him there, but I could take him to Virginia to visit his old friend Lee. So we did. Spent a day on the road, a night and day at Lee’s, and then said goodbye.
    Simon was, and still is, a most special friend. Jim Elder

  34. Todd Clemmons

    Simon put our town on the map back in the 1940’s when some of his pictures of Brookville, Ohio appeared in Look magazine. It’s a famous event in our small town.
    Just wanted to let friends and family know that we’ve always appreciated what he did and that I hope that you cherish your memories of him here long after his passing.
    Todd Clemmons, Brookville, Ohio

  35. Johann Reichenbach

    Simon is one of my few “key-persons” and still (after allmost 30 yaers)very present to me. I visited hin in NY, 96th W (?) in 1984, after finishing High School. My Oncle Fred Knigge (Frankfurt-Germany)aranged the contact and i’m still very thankfull for this. Simon was great, gracefull, funny, challenging, astounding, and caring. His sence of humor, his funny stories and his red-blue-postcards enriched my life. In these days he would certainly be one of the greatest blogger indeed. Thank You so much fo all, dear Simon!

  36. mike quon

    hello family and friends of simon. he was a very special guy…i first met him in nyc in the early 1980s…and still have things that he sent me…sorry i lost track of him after he left nyc….i have many memories and influences from our friendship. thinking of you old friend….

  37. Douglas Richardson

    Ten years ago I wrote an article on Simon Nathan’s ‘Good Photography’s 35mm Handbook’ for the Viewfinder magazine of the LHSA Leica society. This was a mere half-century after I’d originally read his book, and to this day it is still on my bookshelf, along with ‘Camera in Paris’.

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