Special Reports

March 25, 2002

Turlock man's photo of Levy now seen nationwide

(Published: Friday, July 27, 2001)

She was just one of the 10,000-plus high school students whom Jon Michael Terry has photographed since opening his studio in Turlock 26 years ago.

But none of his pictures is more well-known than the yearbook portrait that he took of Chandra Levy in the fall of 1994.

Levy, 24, of Modesto was last seen April 30, a week after finishing an internship at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons in Washington, D.C. Her alleged affair with Rep. Gary Condit of Ceres turned a basic missing person case into a national story.

Since her disappearance, the Levy photo taken by Terry has appeared in virtually every major newspaper and news magazine in the country. It appears on a number of network news programs several times daily.

The portrait, released to the media by the Levy family, also is on countless Internet sites, including The Bee's.

"I wasn't sure how to take it at first, whether it's flattering or not," said Terry, 53. "You never want to be associated with something bad happening."

News agencies have credited The Associated Press and a photo agency for providing it, and only now is Terry beginning to receive proper credit.

When he first saw the photo in The Bee and on television in May, he was "99.9 percent sure" it was his work. He said he later confirmed it through people visiting the Levy home.

"It's overwhelming," he said. "Every photographer in town has called me asking, 'Are those your pictures?'"

Terry, who photographs an average of 500 high school seniors annually, said he remembers little about the session, other than it probably took place in August, September or early October 1994. High school yearbooks generally have October deadlines, he said. Levy graduated from Davis High School in 1995.

For his standard $200 fee, he took 30 photos and provided the yearbook shot. Levy, then 17, got three clothing and six backdrop changes, and the option of having Terry produce the prints or taking the negatives elsewhere.

Terry has photographed other well-known people, including soccer star Tisha Venturini of Modesto and home decorating maven Martha Stewart.

But none of his other photos has ever generated the play his photo of Levy has gotten.

"This is big time, here," he said.

NO RESERVATIONS -- Just over a week ago, Fox television news officials contacted State Theatre manager Dana Plummer about booking the Modesto facility, possibly for "The O'Reilly Factor" show or a town hall meeting. The network was considering an afternoon show that would not affect other bookings at the theater, she said. Plummer said she has not heard from Fox News officials since.

MOBAND SAYS NO -- The MoBand manager took the stage before Thursday night's concert at Graceada Park and asked people in the audience not to sign petitions calling for Condit's resignation. Jerry Richichi, MoBand manager and assistant conductor, said that if there is anywhere in the city where the Condit controversy should not be aired, it is at the weekly summer concerts. He implored people to stop passing petitions. Another person picketed with a sign reading, "Condit should resign."

RESIGNATION CALL -- U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, R-Colo., said Thursday that Condit should resign because his alleged affair with Levy was unethical.

McInnis said he intends to ask the House Ethics Committee to draft a rule barring U.S. representatives from having a sexual relationship with an intern.

Bee chief librarian Melissa VanDiepen and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Bee staff writer Jeff Jardine can be reached at 578-2383 or jjardine@modbee.com.

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