A squat, burly figure whose kilt and red beard could be recognized from a block away.
Soon you'd see the Camera and/or Guinness at hand regularly.
Almost as soon, you'd realized that barrel chest of his housed a massive heart.
I knew Joe Hunt well enough that he'd recognize me on sight as easily as I'd recognize him, which was close enough to be comfortable with a man who seemed as much a force of nature in his preferred stomping grounds. In places like that, it can feel that folks like yourself are a dime a dozen. Yet once he met you, he worked hard to never forget you, regardless of how generic a face in the crowd you could feel at times.
He was vibrant proof that one could be a bold, lusty gent, a quite masculine fellow, and a wonderful person, all at once. A state of being that seems endangered if not dying out in these troubled times.
For years now I've preached appreciation over objectification. I don't know if he ever read what I've written, but in the end he didn't need to. He lived it himself.
Where my words have been in my sword or at my keyboard, his were in his lenses. He had an uncanny eye for beauty, even in those who could not see it in themselves. In a world with objectifying guys with cameras by the score, he had nothing less than appreciation for the humanity of his subjects. He could see the sensual and the intimate alongside the sexual each on their own as well as intertwined, a rare gift in and of itself. And he celebrated them all. Years after I gave up the camera myself, I'd delight in by chance seeing the smiles he brought to his subjects, the looks of, "wow! that's me?"
Among scores of GWC's who merely collected what images they could harvest for their social media counts (or worse, their spank banks), he treasured those smiles.
I never saw him turned down when he asked to take pictures. But I have no doubt in my mind that he accepted declines as graciously as he stepped up to what permissions he was granted.
I told him once that he reminded me of Hans Holbein the younger, court artist to Henry VIII.
(That painting of Henry you always see in history books? It's a Holbein.)
I have no idea how close to history the incident was. But on the Tudors, Holbein was interrupted at his work on a nude portrait by Sir Robert Travistock, fiancee to his model (who was Henry's mistress at the time).
Sir Robert attacked Holbein, who threw him into a shelf for his trouble.
Convinced he would be dismissed from court for striking a nobleman, Holbein went to Henry to beg forgiveness.
Henry, finding the whole thing hilarious, convinced Holbein his position was safe.
When Sir Robert complained to Henry, Henry was singularly unimpressed, saying, "You have not to do with Master Holbein, but with me. I'll tell you frankly: if I had seven peasants, I could make seven lords. But if I had seven lords, I could not make ONE Holbein."
Give me an entire school of art, and I could not make a single Joe Hunt.
Goodnight, old friend.
You leave the worlds of both arts and men with much to live up to.
May they both strive to do so.