I’ve taken hundreds of photos of Red McCombs over the years, and I can’t say that this is the best one, but it’s one I really like.
As part of a cover story assignment for the Express-News Sunday Images Magazine in December of 1994, I followed Red around for a couple of days, getting shots of him in his office, at a luncheon, on his ranch.
This is the first photo in that series. I showed up at his office — located in his Ford dealership at I-10 and Callaghan — and set up my equipment while he was talking on the phone. I thought the pose was perfect; relaxed and natural, with that boot up on his desk. I waited for him to get off his call, but then snapped the shot before he moved.
The thing I love about that photo is the painting behind him. It’s so exciting. It’s got so much action in it. And that’s the way he lived his life. Every day he went into the office and said ‘I gotta make something happen today.’ That was his attitude toward life.
Something else I learned about Red that day — something I saw over and over during the next few decades as I got to know him: He made people feel good, feel important. On that first assignment, he invited me along to a luncheon he was attending. He seated me next to him at the head table, and he introduced me to everyone like I was some world famous photographer.
When you were talking to Red, he always gave you his full attention. He wasn’t looking at his watch to see where he had to be next. If he was going to be late, he was going to be late. He was going to talk to you until he was done.
Always moving, always making things happen, but always with time for you. That was Red.