Saturday, July 11, 2015

Street fun

The young man looks as though he is in imminent danger, but in fact it is the end of a failed flirtation.  He had spoken to both girls in an attempt to woo them, but had no success.  The girl on the left is telling him what-for, her finger pointing accusingly and silencingly:  she's not going to hear any more from him.  Yet she was amused, as was her friend on the right.  The back-and-forth was, in the end, all in jest.

Monday, June 29, 2015


Beauty but trouble. I have the horrible thought that one day downtown Newburgh NY will be a cluster of condos. The wrecker's ball will have swung for the last time and the resplendent Victorian architecture will be dust and smithereens.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Roald Dahl

I recently gave a print of this photograph to the Garrison Children's Education Fund where it was auctioned at their Spring Thaw fundraiser. The winner, Kyoko Gelber, gave it to the Desmond Fish Library because, "We (including our girls, who LOVE Dahl) feel that it belongs in the library where many more people can enjoy it." 

I took the picture in the mid 1970’s at Roald Dahl’s house in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, 35 miles north west of London.  The exact location of the photograph is the indoor swimming pool. 

I was still living in England when I wrote to Roald asking if I could photograph him. Although I received commissions from British magazines to photograph writers, I tried to avoid being commissioned to take my favourite writers, because, under such circumstances, there is always an element of collusion with either the magazine, the agent, the publisher or the author himself. It is a rare magazine that leaves you alone. I was lucky with one or two who did leave me alone.

The purpose of photographing the writers was to publish a book. After I photographed each one I wrote to him or her enclosing the photograph I had made. I asked for a short comment on the photograph in respect of themselves. Roald’s reply after I sent him his picture was that 30 degrees from the vertical was his attitude to life. I never found a publisher for the book.

We became friends and went to France together to do an article about Romanée Conti, the 4.0 acres vineyard in Burgundy, which produces the most luscious red wine (Napoleon’s favorite). It is now rarely drunk, only traded in. A good vintage goes for $25,000 a bottle. We were not offered a glass of either Romanée Conti or its sister estates La Romanée and La Tâche.

Roald wrote a scathing piece and was threatened with lawsuits. He did not budge from his opinion of the proprietor or her behavior and the lawsuit was dropped.

Roald himself had an outstanding cellar of Bordeaux wines that he never failed to share with his friends. I remember many a dinner with bottles of his favourite Chateau Cos D’Estournel, nearly always with tarragon chicken, tarragon that he grew himself.

Roald was remarkably tall — 6’ 6”. During the Second World War he had to crash land his fighter plane in the Libyan Desert, after being given the wrong directions by his commander. He was severely injured and walked with a limp for the rest of his life. I never heard him complain.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Shay Sellars

We first saw this conspicuously elegant woman at one of Michael Green's gatherings at the Fullerton Mansion for Culture & History in Newburgh. Shortly after that we met at Martha's Café, not before Caroline had nudged me and said that I should photograph her. 

Shay lives in a recently restored house on Chambers Street where she also runs her property developing business. She had first read about the opportunities in Newburgh in a  New York Times article and was immediately interested. She needed only a glance to know it was where she wanted to be when she drove to Newburgh from her home in Bedford- Stuyvesant. So beautiful and so much opportunity to launch her redevelopment project. Her website explains this venture: click on current projects. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Restaurant Les 5 Portes

What is it about a restaurant that draws one to it? It is never the food. The people who go  there head the list. Then comes the look and feel of the place. The welcome is important—it must be short, genuine and warm. Then the service—speedy, quiet and without cheeriness. This place, Restaurant Les 5 Portes, only a step from the center of Geneva, has all those ingredients. Good simple food too.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Katya Kasterine, Ferney-Voltaire, France

My grandchild, 14 year-old Katya Kasterine, gossips with her sister in French, argues and pleads with her mother in Spanish, and with her father in English. 

Dinner at Café Charlot, Paris, France

After an absence of many years I was thrilled to see that what the French still cared most about was food, good service and love. Not to mention the great concern they have to preserve their buildings.

Getting there now from England by Eurostar is probably the most pleasant travel experience you can have anywhere in the world. We went standard premier which meant that you get a light lunch. It was excellent with service to match. It is a thrill to travel at 180 mph, even if it feels as though you are not — the train moves in an effortless vibrationless glide.

Lunch at Café Charlot

We discovered this place by asking at Isabel Marant in the Marais where my daughter Cathy had also sought help in finding places to eat. Then we asked the Italian couple who were lunching at the next table to us where else they went. They said the Brasserie Flo, which was where we landed up that evening. See next post.   

Diners at Brasserie Flo

The French at dinner are mostly wholly absorbed in their meal as are the trio on the right or wholly absorbed in each other as are the couple on the left. In the next post we see that love has taken over completely from food.

A loving couple at dinner on Rue Jacob, Paris

Where food and wine are secondary...

The Eiffel Tower

This was the woman who told Caroline how to get into the Louvre without queuing, legally, avec un billet. Do you think we are going to tell you how? 

The lady is there most days around 10.30 in the morning to walk her dog at the edge of Les Jardin des Tuileries. She speaks English. Clue: it is an entrance under an arch and is closed on Thursdays. There were just four people buying tickets when we found it. The queue to get in by the other two entrances was estimated at four hours—and this was February. 


Lily is my daughter Cathy's eldest child. She is head girl at her primary school in Kensal Rise in London. 

When she puts on her mother's white kitchen apron and horn-rimmed glasses, attaches a questionnaire to her clipboard and strides in to examine the state of the kitchen as the local health inspector, you would never know she was not the real thing. Tone of voice, stance, jargon — it's all there, perfectly performed.  

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Miami: our hosts, George and Emily Lansbury

George and Emily at the Raleigh Hotel — the only place, unless you count next door. It was a cold day (75 degrees F). The guard at the pool was falling asleep from lack of business. Brunch and service were perfect. I wondered who the people around us were and what they did. Next door at the Delano, one glance and you know what they did.

En route to Miami

By JetBlue to Miami, the low cost American airline. Like EasyJet in Europe but without the fights in the isles, and much more expensive. 

Proper photographers do not take sunsets. I offer no excuse.

Miami: one foot in the air

Skateboarding father. I stood behind a bench in the shade, focused on the middle of the path, set a slow shutter-speed and waited.

Miami: elegant rollerbladder

Rollerbladers: some are elegant, some awkward, some steady, others are acrobatic.

Miami: not illegal (or is it?)

 This street is not one way...

Miami: beach loving couple

He is Polish, she is German. They live in Key Largo, where he runs a scuba diving school and she owns a management consulting business based in Germany. "I go there every few months, otherwise I can run it very well from Key Largo." Caroline and I were invited to Key Largo. If we had not been going to London surely we would have accepted.  

Young women with name and number

When I asked if I could take her picture, her friend said she was famous. After I took the picture she said she was returning to Boston the next day and hoped we could work together in the future. Some work—two clicks and done. We too were heading back north to the Hudson Valley and wondered who they were. Perhaps her tattoo reveals that.    

Miami: A South Beach smile

It was a Tuesday, mid-afternoon on Ocean Drive. Time on her hands.