Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Waitress in diner

This person is a waitress in the diner in Beacon, New York. She looks more like a customer about to give up waiting for her friend, but is not disgruntled enough to prevent good feelings towards the camera from coming through. There also is no sign of impatience in her look, as though she really had no more time for this nonsense as there were customers waiting for her to take their order. This was, of course, because she actually preferred being in front of the camera than dealing with customers.

Winter 2008

Here's something different. Something to bring in the New Year with a ... I was left with this after breaking the handle of the mall. From time to time I photograph landscapes and still lives and this picture I did a month ago. Next week I will probably be back with a portrait.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Anne Kitch

Today I'm putting up a photograph of an Anglican priest taken outside her Parish House in Peekskill, New York. This woman is, I feel, happy and sure of herself. She spoke with devastating calm and assurance, unhurried but decisive. If she were running for high office I would vote for her, just because of the way she stands there, so confident, yet modest. I spent no more than two minutes with her, because I knew that after the two clicks I made, I would not be able to improve upon this picture. I think she enjoyed being photographed.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Eric Fineman

Eric Fineman imports fine white Burgundies, just premier crus and grand crus, Montrachet, Chablis and Meursault. I saw him at Ocean House, the tiny but matchless fish restaurant run by Brian Galvin and his wife Paula, in a 1920s diner that had been towed up the river and left on the sidewalk. For two years, Eric and his wife Bernadette went there on Thursday nights armed with several bottles of the best and entertained themselves and their hosts and anyone they liked the look of. Then he had three operations on his neck and back and a triple by-pass heart operation. He is now back on the tennis court drinking his beloved Burgundy and handing it out to his guests at meals (and a bottle to go home with) as though it were bottled water.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Rebecca, organic farmer

For two years, Rebecca and her husband Joe grew organic vegetables on a communal farm in Wappingers, New York. Every week from May to October we would buy their vegetables at the local farmer's markets. In the winter she would knit and make quilts and he would knit and make furniture. In September this year they told us they could no longer go on alone and were returning to his father's farm in Iowa to join forces with him.

Rebecca looked at the camera I was using. She said, "That's the most beautiful camera I have ever seen." It was a Rolleiflex 2.8E that I bought in 1955. It is the only camera that I love. I must be careful now because I have enjoyed the luxury of digital cameras. I have, a Nikon D40, and as excellent as it is, it is the wrong format for me and woe betide you if you over expose. The armchair life it gives you, not having to go to the lab, is habit forming.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Father and son

Out of the corner of my eye as I drove down Main Street, Poughkeepsie, New York, I spotted a fine Victorian brick factory, set behind the more modern, perhaps twenties buildings on Main Street itself. In front of the building two workers were carrying out a load of demolition rubbish. I thought: "Luxury apartments to rent". Not a difficult conclusion, as that was what every old factory building in towns like Poughkeepsie, up and down the Hudson Valley, were being converted into. I stopped and got out my almost unused, ready to explore, Nikon digital camera, and found this father and son team clearing the way for what we all knew would be rubbishy conversion into mingy apartments. All but three years later, the building stands in its original state, unconverted, but with no innards; a monument to our ancestors who built and manufactured rather then punted.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Stanley Kubrick

I worked for Stanley as a stills photographer on three of his pictures. Stanley loved ping-pong and he put up a tent in his garden so that he could play in all weathers. He was a family man who worried a lot about his cats and his children’s mice and hamsters. His children often appeared on the set. One day some Warner Brothers executives were expected to visit the set of "A Clockwork Orange". (He was probably well behind in his shooting schedule and they would have tried to push him.) Stanley just didn't turn up for that day's shooting.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Jessica Pryce-Jones

Jessica's parents live in a 17th century house in Florence, Italy. I found the background on the top floor of the house where the sun was coming through a paneless window on a small balcolny. Years later I was asked to copy the wall to use as a background for an advertisement. Absurd, but in advertising you first do what the client asks. A friend of Caroline's took a plaster cast of his concrete studio floor and trucked it over to us. Of course it looked terrible but sort of O.K. and they used it.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Samuel Beckett

I took this picture of Samuel Beckett in London in 1965 at a rehearsal for a BBC production of "Waiting for Godot". Beckett observed acutely, never taking his eyes of the actors or director, but said very little. When they broke for lunch we went to a local pub where Beckett drank Guinness and played bar billiards. He beat everybody.

Benjamin Marrowbone

Benjamin Marrowbone, White Horse Creek, Dakota Territory, Sioux Nation, aged 101 with a great-great-grandnephew. Marrowbone spoke no English but the little boy spoke some so I was able to arrange them fairly easily for the picture. Lit by a Balcar with an umbrella.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Construction worker

This woman is a construction site carpenter, one of only a handful of women carpenters in New York State. The sun came out, filtered through a layer of cloud, just as I was ready to photograph. I only had a minute, because behind me was a busy construction site and they needed her back. Sometimes when people only have a minute, they concentrate more; or you can ask them to.

Girl with comb in her hair

Taken in downtown Newburgh, New York, a crumbling city of beautiful Victorian houses and a population of ninety percent African Americans, the majority of whom have no work. I asked: "May I take your picture?" "Of course you may," she replied, "The camera loves me." She was standing in the sunlight and I asked her to move under the shade of a tree, where the light was softer. A friend of Caroline's at work saw this picture on the wall of her office and fell in love with her. He now has a copy on his wall.
To see more of Newburgh click here.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Caroline and Nicholas

I first saw Caroline carrying our son Nicholas in this sling on a walk to the Constitution Marsh in Garrison, New York. The path was unmarked and the way was rough. At one point a rope had been installed to help you climb a steep and tortuous path. Caroline, brought up walking on smooth sidewalks of suburban Westchester, made to the top, down the other side and back to the car. We were there in the blinding midday sun. Later that day in the cool and shade of the early evening, I took this picture on our drive. Nicholas is now seventeen years old and loves to snowboard.

Thursday, December 11, 2008


This is the dog who my wife Caroline and I look after three days a week. If only editors would react to my photographs the way the dog's owner did when I gave her a print for her birthday: she burst into tears. It was a slow shutter speed, maybe a 30th second, panning with the animal to give the background blur, and some good luck with Lizzie's graceful position at the moment she past me.