Michael Murphy for Golf Magazine

Michael Murphy, co-founder of the Esalen Institute, photographed at his home in Mill Valley for Golf Magazine. Michael is a key figure in the Human Potential Movement, and is the author of Golf in the Kingdom (which has sold over a million copies) and other books on human potential.

When I got the call sheet and looked up Michael’s address, I realized I’d ridden right past his house probably hundreds of times. It’s (somewhere) along Cascade Drive, an incredibly shady and canopied street full of tall redwoods that’s a jump off point to the trails of Mt. Tam. So I knew that even though we’d probably have blasting sunny weather, we’d have an insanely dark home to work with and have to play to that. Another perk of riding… you’re constantly location scouting.

Got to Michael’s home, he’s a very genial and lovely man, classically relaxed and gently self-assured, much like the other seminal Bay Area figures I’ve met through the years. He reminds me of Stewart Brand. Turns out Stewart is a friend. Michael is up for anything and is quite a great sport. We go to a little river; I ask him to stand in it, in the one patch of sun. He obliges, happily. “I’ve never had anybody take photos of me like this before!”, he exclaims. We putter about the park, finish that location, then return to his home office for some indoor work. He tells me about his work in Russia, I tell him about trying to get into Esalen at 3am after a 130 mile ride to Kirk Creek in the dark.

Michael’s office is dense, dark, full of books and artifacts and a heavy wooden desk and a lone MacBook. I am talking too much, and we are running out of time. I ask my buddy + assist, Bryan Markwardt, to throw a B1 very far away, outside the house, shooting through a narrow window to flag it off. I eyeball the strobe into where I want it to hit and turn on Michael’s desk lamp. I’m at ISO 1600, 1/125, f4, handholding a massive camera (I loathe tripods) with a phase 120mm macro with literally no room for error and a razor-sharp plane of focus. Sitting on my knees, engage core, inhale, pause, shoot, exhale. Do a couple frames, check focus, and time is up. Thank you, Nancy Jo Iacoi, for the assignment.