David R. Metz Leaves Canon

Feb 8, 2007

LAKE SUCCESS, NY – Canon USA Inc.’s David R. Metz, a long-time friend and supporter of the National Press Photographers Association and its members and events, and of photojournalists worldwide, said today that he’s decided to leave his position with Canon.

David R. Metz“After almost 30 years here, I have decided that I need to move on so that I can spend some time taking better care of myself, doing some travelling, and getting back to enjoying photography and exploring new opportunities,” Metz said today. He plans to leave Canon at the end of this week.

Metz has been the director and assistant general manager of Canon USA’s Professional Products Marketing Division and Consumer Imaging Group-Cameras. He’s been with the company almost 30 years, since he joined Canon in 1977 in Chicago.

“I have probably seen every major convention center in the USA, but I have never seen Yellowstone, Yosemite, or even the Grand Canyon,” Metz told News Photographer magazine today. “Ever since my cardiac arrest in January of 2000, I feel as if I have been living ‘on borrowed time’ and I have just decided that it’s time to stop working so much. Canon has been a great company to work for, with great products and a great team of people, and I will really miss all of my friends there. So while I am leaving Canon, I am not actually ‘retiring.’ I’m just looking to re-invent myself! I am going to take a lot of time off in 2007, but I eventually hope to continue in the photo industry, or in education, for many years to come.

“For the last three decades, NPPA has been so much an important part of my life, and Canon has been so wrapped up in photojournalism that now I have so many friends,” Metz said.

“I will always have a deep appreciation of Dave, and his significant contributions to NPPA,” past president Clyde Mueller said today. Mueller was NPPA president in 2002, and in 2003 he was the chairman of NPPA’s Honors and Recognitions Committee. As such, Mueller was the one who presented Metz with the Joseph A. Sprague Memorial Award, NPPA's highest honor.

“The split between Missouri and NPPA over POY in 2001 was a traumatic event,” Mueller said. “Our plan for the new Best Of Photojournalism contest became a reality in part because of Dave. It was Canon who became a major financial contributor, which facilitated the birth and successful launching of the contest. Dave has a rich history with NPPA and we deeply appreciate his, and Canon’s, participation. On behalf of NPPA, I wish the best for Dave.”

Metz was also once a working press photographer, at The Hobart Gazette, then a weekly newspaper in northwestern Indiana. “I worked my way through my freshman year of college doing high school sports, political ‘grip and grins,’ and holiday parades. I shot them with my old Mamiya twin-lens, and did all of the darkroom work in my parents’ basement in a tiny darkroom under the staircase. I can still smell the hypo today!”

Later he was a schoolteacher in Gary, IN, teaching speech classes and photography, as well as teaching speech to freshman classes at Purdue University in West Lafayette. That’s when the opportunity came along to join Canon. Metz remembers that he’d been “moonlighting” at a camera store, “because you don’t make enough money teaching,” and he wanted to try something different. Canon had a job opening for a technical representative who could produce educational programs and for Metz, it was the perfect chance.

“I resigned teaching and went to work for Canon in Chicago for the next five years. Then I had an opportunity to move to New York at the beginning of 1983 and be a national manager, and to watch everything change,” Metz said. “As I look back and think about when we first launched still video, that was such a big deal, and we were so wrapped up in doing that. I have great memories of the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, of the 2002 games in Salt Lake City, of working in the media centers and with all the press photographers, those were really good times.”

Looking back, he remembers that his real “indoctrination” with NPPA started in 1983-84 when Canon joined in as one of the sponsors of the annual Pictures of the Year contest, co-sponsored by the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism and NPPA. From then, he worked closely with both organizations, their events, and “with so many photojournalists.”

Metz was presented with the Sprague Award in 2003 and in 1994 he was honored with NPPA’s J. Winton Lemen Fellowship Award. In 2002, he was given an NPPA President’s Award. Metz laughed heartily today as he shared some of his favorite NPPA memories, including a specific highlight from “when Rich Clarkson was president – he always used to buy me free drinks!”

“For nearly 30 years, David Metz has been stalwart in his support of photojournalists and photography in general,” Digitaljournalist.org publisher Dirck Halstead said today from Austin, TX. “He loved the company and believed in the products they produced, but he also understood that the cameras were there to serve a purpose, to record history in all the far-flung areas of the globe. The cameras had to be able to withstand weather, and shock. It was no accident that some of the most dramatic photographs of 9/11 came from Bill Biggart’s [Canon] digital camera that had been pulverized when one of the World Trade Center towers collapsed and fell on him. Bill died, but his photographs lived on.

“David worked tirelessly at his job,” Halstead said. “He was one of the very few executives in the entire photo industry who always seemed to be at the other end of his phone, or prowling the floors of the many trade shows. He loved photographers; they were his friends. His support of The Digital Journalist over the years has been our sustaining lifeblood.”

Today Metz told News Photographer that he’s “not retiring for the rest of my life, but after 30 years and long hours, I want to take some time off for a while.” He says that eventually he’ll be back, doing something, “but not for a while.”

“I envy Dave’s plans to visit Yellowstone,” Mueller said. “I spent 25 summers fly-fishing, hiking, and spending quality time with my family in that wonderful park. I hope Dave has a blast.”