EXPIRED: 11/10/09 – Robert Cameron, 98, spent over 40 years watching us and we never even knew it. But we were fascinated with the results.
Cameron watched from afar, snapping photos of the way we live from helicopters for his “Above” series of coffee table photo books. There were 15 so far, with 3 million copies in print, and he was working on one of his home town San Francisco just three weeks ago, when he fell ill.
Others include overhead views of “Above New York,” “Above London,” “Above Washington, D.C.,” “Above Paris,” “Above Mexico City,” “Above Chicago.” He loved home so much there are four volumes of “Above San Francisco.”
Born in Des Moines, Iowa, Cameron’s dad gave him a Brownie camera when he was just a kid and he was hooked. He dropped out of the University of Iowa and took a job at the Des Moines Register. When World War II broke out, he became an Army photographer to shoot aerials.
After the war, he moved to NY and worked a day job until he got fed up with the weather, and moved his family to San Francisco. It was there that his fortune turned.
A gin lover (the drink AND the card game) Cameron wrote a book called “The Drinking Man’s Diet.” It made him rich and gave him the idea that combining book publishing and his love of photography might be a hit.
He self-published his first aerial book, “Above San Francisco,” in 1969 and it sold like crazy.
A few years ago he went blind in his left eye from macular degeneration but he kept working. His business card read “World’s Oldest One-Eyed Aerial Photographer.” On his last flight 3 weeks ago, he had minimal vision in his right eye.
He attributed his long life to a daily drink. Even last week, his caretakers were putting a bit of scotch in his ice cubes.