Like so many of the people he photographs, Brad Baskin moved to Florida to be closer to his kids.
For most of his life, he lived and worked in Chicago. But when he retired five years ago, he and his wife moved to Orlando. His daughter and son-in-law, Bree and Joel Goldstein, lived in Geneva and had founded the Jewish Chamber of Commerce.
It was at a chamber meeting where he met Nancy Ludin, executive director of the Jewish Pavilion.
“I’m semi-retired and was available to help Nancy and the organization,” Baskin says. I appreciate the work the Jewish Pavilion does providing opportunities for people to connect and get to know each other. While taking photos at a Shabbat service at Village on the Green, I was surprised to see our friend Gary Becker leading the service. In addition to being a wonderful, brilliant person; he is extremely knowledgeable about Judaism. ”
Today, Baskin is the primary photographer at most of the Jewish Pavilion’s events. He also volunteers his time going into senior communities and taking portraits of many of the seniors the Jewish Pavilion works with. Most of the photos for the organization’s profile series were taken by Baskin.
“I love photographing people in their environment,” Baskin says. “I enjoy meeting them and learning about their lives.
“I am impressed with the level of activity that people I’ve met,” he adds. “Several times, while I am setting up my equipment to take a photo, I’ve been told that we need to finish by a certain time so that the people I am photographing can meet their friends for dinner or have some other activity to attend. Taking photos of the elderly has been a great opportunity for me as a photographer to engage in the work I love to do the most.
“Photographing people is my passion in life. When people ask why I was bringing all my equipment and spending my time taking these pictures, my usual response is I’m essentially retired and photographing people is what I most enjoy doing in life – and I don’t play the saxophone”
Baskin has been taking great photographs since he was 13 years old. At that time, his father built him a darkroom to process the photographs he was taking. He was shooting more candid shots at the time but started doing professional shots for the family’s clothing business before he graduated from high school.
“I shot the company’s annual event where we recognized the best salesmen and saleswomen and people who had gone out of their way to assist customers,” he says. “At that time I was using a camera and flash where you had to replace the bulb every time you took a picture.“
He studied literature and history at George Washington University in DC and later on was a theater major at Columbia College in Chicago, but he kept coming back to photography. In Chicago, he worked as a buyer in the family clothing business called Mark Shale and continued to hire models and do fashion shoots for the business.
Then he decided to focus on a photography career and was accepted to study at the legendary San Francisco Art Institute where he received his BFA in fine arts. In San Francisco, he enjoyed photographing people in various neighborhoods, especially the Mission District. He was also still flying back to Chicago to photograph ads for the family clothing business – living two very different lives.
He returned to Chicago and spent several years assisting different advertising photographers where he learned a lot about the technical end of professional photography, becoming a successful corporate photographer – photographing professionals at their place of work and also photographing many actors at his studio.
One of them was working at Second City at the time and later turned up as the lead in a hit TV show – The Office. His name is Steve Carell.
Today, Baskin participates in two different book groups at the University Club of Winter Park and plays pickleball regularly. He stays close to his theater background by seeing plays at Orlando Shakes and elsewhere, saying that the quality rivals Chicago’s famed Steppenwolf Theater. He still listens to jazz and recollects the times he saw Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Luis Armstrong and other greats perform.
“My son-in-law allowed me to set up a small studio in his large garage where he keeps the special cars he collects,” Baskin says. “I photograph people right next to Wayne Newton’s red 1961 Jaguar convertible!”
What may sound odd is that he appreciates Orlando’s traffic compared to Chicago. Baskin’s wife Janie Is a docent at the Orlando Museum of Art and the couple frequently goes there to look at the wonderful exhibits, while Janie fills Brad in on many interesting details about the artwork.
“It’s a great pleasure not having to spend an hour in traffic getting to the museum and parking for free – which does not exist In downtown Chicago,” Baskin says.”I don’t mind the 70-degree winter days either.”