As many of you know, I have written dozens of stories about Jerry Kramer. I recently did a series of articles where Kramer talked about his former Green Bay Packer teammates who already were in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
A place where Kramer should be as well.
Kramer talked about playing with Jim Taylor, Forrest Gregg, Bart Starr, Ray Nitschke, Herb Adderley, Willie Davis, Jim Ringo, Paul Hornung, Willie Wood, Henry Jordan and Dave Robinson before they all were given a bust in Canton.
No. 64 also talked about the man who made it all possible…Vince Lombardi.
My most recent story with Kramer has him discussing the career of another former teammate, Dan Currie.
In doing these stories and many, many more, I have had the opportunity to talk with Kramer countless times.
In those conversations, most of which would last an hour or so, Jerry has been very engaging and insightful in our discussions.
No. 64 also has an unbelievable memory regarding his playing days with the Pack.
I recently had an opportunity to talk with Daniel Kramer, who is Jerry’s son.
Let’s just say that the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree, based on my conversation with Dan.
Dan and I talked for over an hour and discussed many things, which included the kickstarter campaign which is currently ongoing about the upcoming book he plans to publish.
The book is going to be coffee-table photography book of the 1996-97 championship season for the Packers.
Another Kramer would be proud.
The kickstarter campaign has five days to go and Dan has already reached his goal of $20,000. Kramer also has 81 backers for the book.
Hopefully the campaign will end up bringing in a lot more than Kramer’s goal. Why? Photography books are very expensive to publish. Especially if the photos are in color.
In talking to Dan, I found him to be as interesting and as fascinating as his dad.
Dan talked about how his love for photography first started.
“My dad gave me my first camera for my 18th birthday,” Kramer said. “I took a photo class and it was an art class. I was at the University of Minnesota and it was winter. The class was at 8:00 am on a Saturday on the opposite side of campus.
“That means I would have to leave at around 7:00 or 7:15 to get there. It was my second year in college. That’s not a good equation. So I didn’t make too many of those classes. And those I did, I didn’t really care for.”
But even with that inauspicious beginning, Kramer stayed with it.
“I started to follow the journalism path,” Kramer said. “I got better as I found my way. It took me two or three years to sort of gravitate towards journalism. I started playing rugby for the University of Minnesota and I started writing articles about my team for the school newspaper.
“That sort of got me thinking that maybe journalism is the route I want to take. The last class required for me to take was called Visual Communication. I’m now a senior and I’m going to graduate at the end of the semester and I have to take Visual Communication.
“Now this was a 10:00 am Saturday class. Now there’s a big difference between 8:00 am and 10:00 am. Plus, there was a difference in my maturity as well. My teacher for the class was David Rae Morris.
“He came into class with a bag of warm muffins and he turned on The Grateful Dead. We sat around and talked about photography and photo journalism. I was taken with him and his teaching.
“I did a project for him on a reclusive old man who sold books. David published my project in the school newspaper, which was a double-page spread. Wow, that just blew my hair back! That really hooked me.
“I graduated and got a job as a sports editor. I had tried my whole life up to this point to not let people know who my dad was. I wanted them to like me for who I was. I wanted people to genuinely like me and not try and suck up because of who my dad was.
“I would let people know who my dad was eventually after they made it into the inner sanctum and they became my friend. That was something that I didn’t let out lightly.
“I certainly didn’t want a life in sports. Being a sports editor? Being a sports reporter? No, no, no. I had to find my own path. That was way too close to his world.”
Kramer did do an internship with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, where he was a sports writer. But that was not the career path which Kramer wanted.
He eventually ended up with a small twice-a-week newspaper in Sturgis, South Dakota, where Kramer was for nine months.
From there, Kramer ended up with a small once-a-week newspaper in southern California.
Kramer’s goal was to be a photographer for a major-metro newspaper, similar to what the Minneapolis Star Tribune is.
Kramer had many roles in his position at the small newspaper in SoCal. He was a sports editor, a features reporter, a photographer, plus directed the other photographers on the staff.
Kramer would drive 90 miles to Los Angeles, where he would photograph the Kings, Lakers, Rams and Raiders (the Rams and Raiders were in LA then).
Kramer was hoping to transition himself from a reporter to a photographer.
After about a year and a half, Kramer applied a for a photographer’s position at the Long Beach Press-Telegram. There, Kramer met a guy named Hal Wells. Kramer showed Wells some of his previous work.
Wells told Kramer that his work was not even in the ball park. He advised Kramer to go study photography exclusively.
Kramer took that advice.
“I took out loans. I pursued my master’s degree,” Kramer said. “I got a MFA in Documentary Photo Journalism at the Academy of Art in San Fransisco. What a great city to study art in! What a great time in my life!”
Because of his work at the Academy of Art, Kramer was chosen among the top 100 college photo journalists in the country. Because of that designation, Kramer was selected to go to the Eddie Adams workshop. Adams was a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer.
At the workshop, Kramer was able to network with well known magazines/newspapers like National Geographic, Time, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post.
In 1995, Kramer ended up landing an internship with Newsday. During that internship, he stayed at Dick Schaap’s guest apartment, which was a half block off of Central Park.
Schaap was Jerry Kramer’s best friend. Dick and Jerry had co-written three books together, the most famous being Instant Replay. The other two books were Farewell to Football and Distant Replay.
Dan also embarked on his first professional project. And what a project it was!
Kramer retraced Mark Twain’s trip around the world, which had happened 100 years before. To give you an idea of where Kramer traveled, I suggest you read Following the Equator by Twain, which chronicles his adventures on that long trip.
Kramer ended up publishing a blurb book about that fantastic endeavor.
After his trip around the world, Kramer first called his dad and then Schaap. He wanted to see if they could arrange a situation where Dan could photograph Brett Favre and Bart Starr together for a Sports Illustrated article.
When Dan talked to Schaap, he mentioned the idea of photographing Favre and Starr together.
Schaap replied without missing a beat, “And Willie and Reggie!”
Bottom line, Schaap turned Dan’s idea of a SI article into a book which was called Green Bay Replay, where he chronicled the 1996 championship season for the Packers.
All the photos in that book were done by Kramer.
When the idea for the book started, neither Schaap or Kramer envisioned that the Packers were going to win the Super Bowl for sure that year. It was eerily similar to the book that Schaap and Jerry had put out about the 1967 season, Instant Replay.
In both cases, the Packers did win it all. Which made both books even more enthralling.
In Green Bay Replay, all the photos taken by Kramer in the book are in black and white. In addition to that, some of the best photos that Dan took were not used.
Since that time, Kramer worked for the Houston Press, where he was a staff photographer.
After leaving that job, Kramer has freelanced with Sports Illustrated, The Wall Street Journal and the USA Today.
The Packers will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the 1996 Super Bowl Championship team in 2016. That popped an idea into Dan’s head about utilizing the photos he had taken of the team then.
After a conversation with his photo editor Jimmy Colton, Kramer decided to use a kickstarter campaign for a book about that team. Why?
Because of the kickstarter strategy, Kramer will maintain complete creative control of the book, which wouldn’t be the case with a major publishing organization.
After the kickstarter campaign is over, and remember there are still five days remaining, Kramer and Colton will start doing the editing for the new book, which will mean looking at all the photos that Kramer took during the 1996-97 season of the Packers.
Once the editing is done, the book will also include some remembrances and quotes from the people in the book.
Kramer also needs to hire a designer for the book. The final step is to find a place to get the book printed.
The goal is to get the whole book ready to go and be shipped by September of 2016.
There is no doubt that everyone in Packer Nation will enjoy this book immensely, just like they have with previous books like Instant Replay, Distant Replay and Green Bay Replay.
Until then, pass the word about Dan’s kickstarter campaign for this book, because full-color photography books are very costly to publish.