Ron receives fan mail everyday including heartwarming stories from photographers recalling how they became interested in photography. Here is photographer Richard Barnes’ recollection of meeting Ron at the age of 16 and how Ron influenced his life decision to become a photographer:
I was just emailing an old friend of mine the story of how I started off as a photographer way back in 1978 when I was just 16 years old and how meeting Ron was a turning point. I just thought I’d forward this along to you….
It was Summer of 1978. I was in Ocean City New Jersey. Princess Caroline of Monaco had just gotten married and was on her honeymoon in – Tahiti? I think – and on her way home was going to stop in Ocean City to visit her mother (Princess Grace) at their family beach home . Mind you, this is not the Hamptons, this is a small, very populated little town. I was 16. Every day I peddled my bike from 59th street to 27th street hoping for a glimpse of the Royal Family, but alas, nothing.
Finally, on the last day, I arrive to find about 20 + members of the press there waiting, because this is the day Caroline and her new husband are arriving. As I wait I am befriended by Ron Galella! We sit and talk, and he gives me some tips and even buys me an ice cream.
Then the garage doors open and a black Mercedes with tinted windows backs out and zooms away, and all the press jump in their cars and give chase. I am left alone. A boy and his bike. And his Canon TX 🙂
A few minutes later the front door of the house opens and Jack Kelly, Graces brother steps out, and he looks around and then to me he says ” are you press? “. I say ” No….I’m just on vacation and was hoping to see the Royal Family”. He says “Come with me,” and brings me in the house and around back to the patio, where the entire Royal Family is sitting and talking. He says ” this is Rich, he’s OK” he’s just going to take some pictures” and leaves me in the midst of everyone.
I shoot a little, talk a little (I still can hear HSH Princess Grace saying “please…..I’m not at my best” as she sat there in her bathing suit )….and when I’m done, I emerge from the house back to out front where the press – now realizing that they were led away by a decoy car!…surrounds me and is interested in buying my film. Unfortunately I’m shooting color and in those days there were no 1 hour color labs, so I’m out of luck.
Ron Galella pulls me aside and says “kid, if you were shooting BW, you’d be rich !”…..and there’s when my career as a photographer starts officially.