Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Hood and scarf

They were sitting in the farthest and darkest corner of Park Slope's al di là Trattoria. I had my back to them, but Caroline said I should photograph them. As they rose to leave she was up and asking them. I saw their strikingly pale and unblemished complexions, one in a hood and the other bare-headed, but wrapped several times in a scarf, like an inflatable ring worn by those in the water who cannot swim. They stood outside against the window of the restaurant lit by the veiled winter sun of the late afternoon.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Couple by street light

I'd like to know more about these two. Sometimes I'm only interested in the shape or expression of people I photograph. But with these two, I would like to know more, because she is dressed differently from him, more formally and with a bag and scarf, and he is in just a thin sweater. Also she spoke not a word to me, yet he was warm and forthcoming about having the picture taken, but as it was nearing eleven o'clock and they had not eaten, I could not keep them any longer. I had already dragged them out from their table that they had just settled into.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ryan again

As his café (it will be his in the middle of January) is the best in Cobble Hill for oatmeal, coffee and lightening polite service, we are swept there by a current of past memories. And you only have to glimpse him and something about his appearance causes you to grope for your camera. Last week it was the red and black hat.

Two elbows, one bottle

In order for a digital camera to see to focus in low light it has to be assisted by a spotlight built into the camera that shines without your asking when the subject is too dim for the automatic focus too cope. This is very irritating and can ruin the shot. Here the subjects were so absorbed in each other that if you had shone a search light at them they would not have noticed.

The photograph was taken at Marlow and Sons in Williamsburg, a place where they understand the romance of candlelight (the whole room is more or less lit by candlelight), the right music, making people feel welcome, and service.


You seldom know what people are talking about or feeling when you are observing them. Before I took this picture, I had been watching the couple and I thought from their expressions that they didn't know each other well. They were being polite and careful. After this show of aggressive surprise, I am not sure.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Smoking lovers

In this photograph, taken in London in the buffet of Waterloo station, thirty years before I took the couple at Diner (above), there is more expectancy than surprise in the young lady's expression, and not a scrap of aggression. In fact, even without their shared love of tobacco, they seem made for each other. You could not be sure of that in "Surprise". Those were still the days when it was polite to light your girlfriend's cigarette for her and always before your own. And there is more in her look than the sweet anticipation of that first delicious drag on her cigarette.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Young man with skateboard

I heard the rattle of skateboards as we crossed the road on Lorraine Street in Red Hook and turned to see three teenagers on their boards in the middle of the street. There was one tall, thin rider that caught my eye. I did not see his face but I shouted and waved "Hello." They stopped. I asked one of them, "Do you like dogs, he's friendly." as Caroline and Louis caught up with us. They stopped and they all liked Louis. I went up to the tall thin rider. He agreed to be photographed. He had grown up with dogs. This was their favourite street to skate on. Not very much traffic and a wide long stretch, so you could see it coming, the said.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Carly again

Here is Carly again - no longer working at Goodbye Blue Monday - now devoting her life to her art - portrait painting. Photograph was taken at Goodbye Blue Monday on her nearly last day. The place is looking as inviting as ever and is soon to be serving twenty-seven varieties of toasted cheese sandwich. I suggested to Matthew, a GBM senior manager, a twenty-eighth. Welsh Rarebit, chedder cheese with the addition of Worcestershire sauce or mustard. There is an English colony in Bushwick, who I know are frequenters of GBM, so there will be takers.

Myrtle and Broadway

We climbed the iron steps to the station of the elevated tracks of the J, M and Z line at Broadway and Myrtle Avenue. The couple disappeared through the brown swing doors into the subway entrance. I thought I had lost them in the free-for-all of shoppers returning home with their bags. But they were standing near the turnstile and had noticed Caroline with our dog Louis and I beckoned to them to come and meet him. They carried no bags. She was there to say goodbye to him. He was returning to Manhattan where he studies Criminal Justice at Berkeley College.

We had to wait for the sun to go behind the clouds. We pressed into a corner on the walkway by the entrance to the subway where the light would be good. Louis and Caroline greeted the shoppers as they banged through the swing doors. At last we felt we had found the center of Brooklyn, a place difficult to pinpoint.

At first she did not want to be photographed because she was wearing sweat pants (I explained it was just head and shoulders). After the shoot, he asked to be photographed by Caroline, with me and Louis.

Christmas tree salesman

First day back in Brooklyn for several weeks. The day started badly. Lunching at the friendly and cosy Boulevard Café on Bushwick Avenue, a young woman sat writing in a notebook at the next door table. Yes, writing in a notebook. When she stared out of the window she looked good, lost in thought. But a fuse box stood out prominently behind her head and I could not get myself in the right place without her seeing what I was up to. I abandoned it and we moved on.

Caroline spotted a man selling Christmas trees from a stall on Broadway. He obligingly gave me his time. If you have a section of sidewalk the length of a sizable store front, full of Christmas trees on December 4th, a Saturday, you do not have much time to clear them.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Father and daughter

Having shirked the trip to Brooklyn last weekend because of the shoppers, we went to sedate Rhinebeck, NY and Bread Alone. They serve cupcakes now - this organic paragan of multi-grain. We were sitting two tables down from a father, mother and their three daughters. 'There's a fourth child, our son, but he's away at school," the mother said.

"The likeness between your husband and your youngest daughter caught my eye."

"I am sure they would love to be photographed."

With their strong looks they could be cast in any film about pioneers. I can see them in a covered wagon galloping full tilt across the foothills of Wyoming in 1870 - bullets popping holes in the canvas.