I am dedicating today’s article to Tony Vaccaro, the famous photographer. The first picture is Tony in 1945, holding his beloved camera.

This week, I learned that the famous photographer Tony Vaccaro died at 100. A sad day for the world. He had photographed my brother in 1981, the year of my brother’s car accident, and two years before my brother passed.

Tony took photos of Presidents Kennedy, Obama, and Nixon. Famous stars like Sophia Lauren. Artists like Picasso and Georgia O’Keefe. And my brother, Neil Leist. Neil had just become the CEO and President of American Bakeries. He made his fortune in the commodities markets and was on his way to the top. The accident ended his dreams and mine.

“Michelantonio Celestino Onofrio Vaccaro was an American photographer who is best known for his photos taken in Europe during 1944 and 1945, and in Germany immediately following World War II. He subsequently became a fashion and lifestyle photographer for American magazines.” Wikipedia

Born: 1922, Greensburg, PA

Died: December 28, 2022

Parents: Giuseppe Antonio Vaccaro

Awards: World Press Photo Award for Arts and Entertainment

The day I met Tony Vacarro, and his family was one of the best days my husband and I spent together. How did I get to meet this extraordinary person? My blog on WordPress opened this door for me. A few years ago, I wrote an article about my brother and how he was my hero and the one I cherished most, and Tony Vaccaro’s daughter-in-law found it online. Maria Vaccaro emailed me and offered me the chance to meet her father-in-law and see the pictures he had taken of my brother. Tony Vaccaro had opened his archives for the first time to the public. His family sorted through the photos and contacted people if they wanted to purchase their images. I cannot describe how excited I was to meet someone who knew my brother and had also photographed him.

On a Sunday, we drove to Long Island City, where Tony lived with his son Frank, his wife, Maria, and their two young children. We walked up the steps to Tony’s apartment, where his massive archive of photographs was stored in the front room. Maria introduced us to Tony, a small, skinny man who appeared frail. But what I noticed first about him was the intelligence in his eyes. He was excited to meet us and showed us his famous framed photographs hanging on the walls. Tony spoke about his life and the famous people he photographed.

Maria found my brother’s black and white pictures, and I felt the room spinning. Neil was smiling in each image. The photos brought back memories. I told Tony that my brother was in a car accident a few months after he had taken his picture. Tony didn’t know my brother had died and began to cry. I was overcome that this great man wept for my brother that I hugged him. I’m not one to show emotions in front of others, but I felt closer to this stranger than many people I’ve known my whole life.

I wanted all the pictures, but Maria explained we could purchase enlarged ones since we were looking at the negatives. I had to pick one. This wasn’t an easy task. When I finally narrowed it down to two pictures, I asked Tony which one he liked best. He pointed to one, and that was the one I chose. Tony had photographed my brother sitting behind his desk. That day, Tony was hired to take photos at a company, and my brother was one of the people chosen for this honor.

After we purchased the picture, Tony led us to his small bedroom, showing mementos from his life, including his favorite cameras. Then he offered to take us to a restaurant where his famous photographs were displayed. I was excited; I didn’t want the day to end. Tony hung an old camera around his neck, saying it was a camera he’d used in combat in WWII. This camera made him famous when he took candid pictures of the war, where he revealed the reality of war and its horrors.

Tony and Maria joined us as we walked a few blocks to a quaint Italian restaurant. Once inside, we were welcomed by the owner and made to feel at home. Tony led us around the two rooms, showing us the framed pictures on the walls. There were black and white photos, but many were colorful. My favorite was the one he took of Georgia O’Keefe. Afterward, we sat at a table near the fireplace and were soon joined by Tony’s son, Frank, and their two children. They were going to have dinner, and we were invited.
Since the restaurant wasn’t Kosher, and we couldn’t eat anything cooked there, we had coffee while they ate. Tony had the sweetest family; the children were friendly. Frank and Maria told us endless stories of people they met through Tony. Tony told us tales of Sophia Loren, one of his favorite stars. He hoped to invite her to his 100 birthday party a few years away. I’m happy Tony reached 100, but I don’t know if he had his birthday party since he died a few days later.

I will never forget the day I spent with Tony Vaccaro and his family. He was someone not soon to be forgotten.



Portovenere, Italy ~ Luca Libralato

Brushstrokes of blue and gray

to outline the puffy clouds.

Broad swipes of teal and aquamarine

to meet the neverending horizon.

Swells of purest white

will rise from the blue depths.

As my fingers reach for the canvas,

my gaze travels to the brushes,

and I shake my head.

No painting is needed

to capture the perfect day.

I stare around me

at nature’s perfect handiwork.




A more perfect picture there cannot be.

Bright colors as far as the eye could see.

Blue, yellow, red, orange, purple and green.

A frame is needed for this gorgeous scene.

If I could walk into this masterpiece,

My life would be so calming and at peace.


Archan Nair – New Illustration titled “ Hue “


I feel lost and confused.

I feel dizzy and unsure.

My mind is pulled

in opposite directions.

What do I want?

I want to create.

Throw paint on a wall.

Write books.

Compose poetry.

I want to create.