Sunday, February 22, 2009

Paul Theroux

It's been raining and snowing most of the week and 25° F. Not much good for looking for subjects.

Here is Paul Theroux taken in London, England in the mid-seventies. I've never been drawn to photographing writers in front of books, ink stands, typewriters or computers. Some have done it beautifully, notably Helmut Newton with his picture of Robert Hughes. When I try, or am asked to try, it looks a muddle. In front of books, there is too much contrast and your eyes whirl around the shelves.

Mr. Theroux was not forthcoming with me, which was rather disappointing because I very much like his stories and would have enjoyed hearing one, or a segment of one, first hand. He was not much interested in my life. It didn't matter. Generally I do like to find some common ground with subjects but this time we just looked at each other and went our ways.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

West Point Cadet

Here is the young woman from the other side of the Hudson River from Garrison and the Metro North railway line. (See post of February 6 2009). No individual touches as to the styling of the uniform here. Cadet Dellavalle, one of a family of four sisters, all in the army and all West Point graduates.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Kubrick in the War Room

This week was taken up with trying to correct errors in the comments section of this blog. (Some people have not been able to post them successfully. "Accept third party cookies" and it will work. E-mail me if in trouble.) Then, shopping for and preparing dinner for tonight, notably making chocolate mousse.

So. I have slipped in two photographs from the past, one of which, that of Stanley Kubrick in the War Room from the making of Dr. Strangelove, was prompted by Richard Butler who brought up his interest in the film on Facebook.

Kubrick was lining up a shot of the circular table and standing in the light of one small spotlight. The Big Board is to the right and slightly behind me. Frequently he would get the grips to set up the camera and operate it himself. Sometimes the camera operator was not even on the set.

Richard Butler

I met Richard Butler in the Café Maya in Cold Spring, New York with some mutual friends. This was a restaurant that I loved not because I particularly liked the food, but for the two reasons I always love or dislike a restaurant: because of the other people who go there and the welcome and service you receive from the owner and staff. Here we thought the world of both our fellow diners and the staff.

Richard told me he was a musician, and judging how he looked, I thought he was probably a violinist with the New York Philharmonic. In my ignorance of rock music I had never heard of The Psychedelic Furs.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Weary art lovers at Dia: Beacon

Today was the first time I had gone to Dia:Beacon, the local must place for culture. I had always resisted it, partly because I do not like the art shown there and partly because I thought they had probably ruined the building. And indeed they have. This huge, superb factory building has been many times subdivided into giant cubicles and passages assigned to each artists.

The photograph, stolen from under the eyes of one of the polite sixteen year-old Dia guards, shows one of the comfortable sofas that are scattered around the museum for weary art lovers. The two occupants look as though they might be there until closing time.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Alex and Ashley

When I first saw this couple, they were sitting on a bench in the museum, but I was under the direct gaze of one of the guards. As I wanted the couple to look a certain way, I would have had to have spoken to them, which would have drawn the attention of the enemy. Now that everybody has a digital camera the guard would probably have known how to delete the offending photograph and demanded to do so.

Both Caroline and I were astonished at the youthful appearance of the woman in this photograph when we learned her occupation. At first, we did not believe that we had heard correctly, which was that she was a Professor of Sociology at Boston University (or would be in September), so young - not possible, and assumed we had heard wrong. But when I checked with them for the caption we had not heard wrong and she is indeed a professor.

I often do not want to take people away from the location where I first saw them, because I was drawn not only by their looks but also by their gestures and pose. It's very difficult to re-create that in another place. You have to start again really - go for something new, which is what I did here.

It was the first warm day after many bitterly cold ones and the sun reflecting from the snow covered ground gave a soft light.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Jon Beacham

Sometimes people I photograph tell me they do not want to do what I've asked. "Stand, please, next to the printing press with your hand on the lever."
"I'd like to sit," Jon replied, "I don't like to stand when I'm photographed." I wasn't sure what to say. Jon then said, "What do you want anyway?"

"I don't know," I said, "but during this exchange I will see something that I like, or you will do something I like." After a further pause he sat in a chair by the window and looked good. Nice light.

Jon is a book dealer. He specializes in art and poetry. He is also a film maker (nothing digital), photographer (again, nothing digital), and a letterpress printer. He has been a monk.

Metro North conductor

Adrienne wears her cap on the back of her head with her hair over her shoulders and divided to allow the use of her radio mike. Her top pocket is made full use of. Across the river from Garrison NY lies the United States Military Academy at West Point, where the cadets, only a little younger than Adrienne wear their uniforms according to stricter and more formal regulations. At opposite sides of the river, women in uniform, in their very different fields, run the most efficient of organizations. (A picture of a cadet will be posted later).

I used 1600 ISO to get a fast enough shutter speed in the lurching train.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Girl in a silver jacket. Boy in a hood. Newburgh

The picture of the girl in the silver jacket was the first photograph I took in Newburgh. It was in 1996 and in February. I had been thinking about photographing there for some time and decided if I didn't get started I might never do it, although it was a bitter day. The girl and her sister were on their way to the store for their mother. I took them together but saw straight away that the elder sister was the subject I wanted. She stood stock still in the freezing cold and welcomed the camera.

Since then I have not done much there in the winter; there are few people about and mostly those that are in the streets are hurrying along. One day last year Caroline asked if we could go to Newburgh together. I said there wouldn't be many people around but I knew she wanted to go so I thought why not, lets go.

After a drive round seeing hardly a soul, we spotted a few youths, amongst them a girl who I took. Then two children came to see what we were doing just as I was packing away
my Rollieflex and this boy was one of them.
To see more of Newburgh click here.