I first heard the name "Victor Skrebneski" when a high school friend's father, who knew of my interest in photography, mentioned his name. Victor's work was distinctive and his lighting was different than anything I'd seen. I couldn't have imagined that just a few years later I'd have the opportunity to meet him in New York and subsequently work with him for several years. I remember one of the questions he asked when interviewing me for a potential job as a photo assistant: Do you have a passport? (No, I didn't, but was ready to go and get one.)
When I first started working as an assistant, I was nervous every single day because I had NO IDEA what I was doing. Victor's colleagues, Dennis Minkel (production coordinator and stylist) and Jovanna Pappadakis (studio manager) offered encouragement and advice as I learned the ropes: setting up lights and strobe power packs, developing black and white film, making prints, checking inventory (including keeping hundreds of rolls of 120mm color film in the freezer, ready to be used, as needed), etc. Victor, for his part, was patient and understanding when I mixed the developer in the wrong concentration, shipped out the wrong size prints, and underexposed some pictures for an important client. He should have fired me several times, but he didn't. He helped me learn from my mistakes, and taught me how to take a picture, how to deal with clients, how to run a business, and countless intangible aspects of how to be a photographer. For that, I will always be grateful.
A wonderful essay remembering Victor by Wendy Goodman: https://www.thecut.com/2020/04/victor-skrebneski-photographer-obit.html