Friday, December 30, 2011

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Joy Setton at Fort Defiant Café

This is a photograph of a stranger, but with the help of the staff at Fort Defiant Café in Red Hook, Brooklyn, I discovered that it is the writer Joy Setton. I took the picture a couple of summers ago and have since read her articles in Taki's Magazine. One that particularly struck me was about money in the art world from fifteenth century Florence to today. Amongst other aspects of banking then and today, she writes about usury, the origins of bankruptcy, letters of credit, how much gold a woman could wear, and, "Bankers in fifteenth-century Florence were so wealthy that even rulers envied them."
Click here for article in Taki's Magazine

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Beacon shop keeper

Main Street, Beacon, NY. Store owner takes a break to fix her hair and have a smoke.

Contentment at Homespun

As the world knows, every other person in Beacon, NY is a refugee from Brooklyn. Our acquaintance who makes cowboy boots and children's shoes, and who recently moved into a loft in Newburgh (across the river) said, "When you can't afford to live in Bushwick, you know it's over." I wonder if these two once came from Brooklyn?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

An hour before departure

Caroline wondering if she won't cancel her trip to Italy because she may miss our dog Louis too much. She is sitting on the bench that I brought over from England 25 years ago and was nearly destroyed by a tree breaking it's back during a storm. It was put together by a local welder and I replaced the seat slats and repainted it. 

Saturday, December 3, 2011


Caroline has gone to Southern Italy to see her aunts and cousins. The next five photographs were taken in 1989 when we were both there.

Before she left on her trip, I said that because I won't have to take her and collect her from the bus that she catches to commute to White Plains, I must make good use of that extra hour a day. "Re-calk the bath and put up the towel rack." she replied.

Carlo and Monica with friend

I was photographing this young couple when we heard the tap and shuffle of cane and slippers. A man in a white shirt appeared. He spoke to my subjects, engaging them so that they no longer were paying attention to me. I asked him if he would like to join the group for a photograph. 


Caroline's grandfather spent more 20 years of his life in Brazil, away from his wife and family. When he came home to Malvito in Southern Italy, every day he walked the mile to the church and back. This was up a very steep hill. He was 99 years-old when he died.


In the stables of the Baron's house. Plaster walls, virtually never to be seen here in the United States, now seldom seen in Europe. Light from a 5 foot square window. 

I have used as a studio, since this was taken in 1989: the stables here, Sandy Saunders hayloft and the carriage house that is my current studio. All locations thanks to the horse. 


A portrait from 1989 in Malvito, Italy.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Natalie Forteza, singer

I have always liked being chauffeured by a good driver in a nice car. This happened to me last week when Natalie Forteza turned up to be photographed and gave me a lift to the studio. She had a small Volkswagen SUV. Plenty of room, smooth ride and quiet. Shan't be happy till we get one. 

On the telephone Natalie had said, "I have asked my younger sister to meet us there—just to give me moral support." She turned up precisely at the appointed time, sat on a hay bale, out of sight and as quiet as a mouse.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Girl with short hair

A fine day with a clear blue sky. We hear the sound of a light aircraft approaching. It comes into view at about 2000ft. Three bodies tumble from the plane. Three parachutes open and steer towards our field. They land, gather up their 'chutes and walk towards us.  We recognize two adults and a girl of about fifteen. The woman is clutching two bottles of Bordeaux, and the girl a skateboard. Before we made lunch and opened the bottles I took this picture.

Matt Alexander

Mayor of Wappingers Falls, NY, Democratic Congressional candidate for 2012. When asked where his favourite view of the Hudson River was he replied, "From a place in Cornwall, the classic view... they all painted from there in the 19th century... I grew up in Cornwall... You can see Anthony's Nose and Storm King."

Family group

The suit does not mean that our son Nicholas has joined Goldman Sachs. He was back from California for his aunt's wedding and had to dress accordingly. It was more than my life was worth not to record this, as we seldom see him in anything as formal.

A rare gift

Karen McCormack discovered that animals liked to talk to her when one morning she left the house and a hawk was sitting in the drive. Karen approached the hawk and saw that she had a carcass in her talons. The hawk was dragging it slowly away from Karen but she reached forward and tugged it from her. The hawk released the carcass as though she were giving her food to Karen. "I have just shown you something about the way we live," the hawk whispered, and flew away.

Karen began her intuitive life when she did Tarot readings, but soon gave it up because her clients became a nuisance by ringing her the day after their reading and complained that nothing had changed.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Lone croquet player


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Blue, check and pink

They arrived in a '90s Corolla, drawing up at the kerb beside us on Liberty Street in Newburgh. The girl with bronze hair sat in the passenger seat with her feet on the dashboard. She smiled. She said she had a son. "Where is he?" "With his father." A third person appeared from the back seat. We wandered around the street looking for somewhere to take the picture.

The young man, a fashion stylist who lived in East New York, Brooklyn, pointed across the street to a background he liked. I wanted the church doors where they would be lit by the sun reflecting off the buildings opposite. The young man said the particular church was not his religion but he did not mind if we used the doors.

They liked our dog Louis. Caroline took a picture of Louis and me with the three friends.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Felicity and Anna

As we were chatting about my temporary studio—the potting shed at the Garrison Institute that was probably once a carriage house, I looked towards the place where I wanted my subjects to stand. A toad sat there. We stared at him for half a minute and he then lazily hopped on to the bricks and disappeared under one. He did not reappear so we got on with the photography.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Massage therapy

We were looking for an unused or disused industrial building in Newburgh NY in which to display my photographs of the city next summer, to coincide with the publication of the book. We passed this young man having his shoulders massaged.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Man of purpose

Indeed. 15 or so years ago he started Grey Printing in the sleepy old town of Cold Spring, NY, full of musty antique shops. Grey Zeien, then still running an advertising agency in New York City, moved in the latest printing, copying and scanning equipment, and employed Ruth Eisenhower, who is still there. Over the years Ruth decorated the place with four by six color snapshots that she took of everybody who came into the shop. They are strung overhead and stuck to every wall—thousands of them. Ruth adds to the collection each week.

Grey sold his agency a year before the tumble and devotes his time to advising people on their perfect binding, cards, signs and banners. and to his art, recently displayed in neighboring Beacon, and permanently on view at his online gallery, which you have to wipe you brow in relief at seeing a website so simple and beautiful in design.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Leader of the pack

I was photographing a friend sitting outside a gallery in Beacon, NY where his work is on display when Caroline noticed Megan. She was locked in a kiss with a boy but they eventually released each other and I was able to ask if I could photograph them. Her boy friend did not want to but Megan and her sister and friend agreed to it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Our new friend

We became friends sitting round a table for 8 at the annual farmers' market dinner in Garrison. The table was nearest the bar and furthest from the band.  2 weeks later he and his wife and their 2-year-old arrived at the studio punctually at eleven. 

Same girl, different chicken

Same girl eighteen months older, different chicken in new location. Daylight from windows down the entire side of an old carriage house: my studio until my fingers freeze to the camera.

The shot I missed was of her father carrying the chicken in a cage covered with a scarlet cloth across a wide lawn in the rain.

Monday, September 12, 2011


This photograph was taken in 1986. It is a Polaroid of my assistant at the time. A year later we were married. It was taken in my studio on Lafayette Street, NYC and was the first photograph I took of her. Caroline loves to take pictures herself now and last week I assisted her—mostly carrying the tripod and camera bag.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Young chef

I sat in my studio of the day (a 40ft potting shed lit by a bank of windows down one entire side), waiting for Laura to finish preparing cucumbers in the kitchen where she works at the Garrison Institute. She walked in and stood in front of me. "Where do you want me?"

"There, by that pile of bricks. Stand there, just the way you are standing now."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

George Carlin

Our 20 year-old son Nicholas left for Heavenly, Lake Tahoe, California 2 days before the storm. He said he was now ready to live alone, away from home, because he had listened to Mr. Carlin's monologues. These, he said, had equipped him with the wisdom to enable him to live a prosperous and fulfilling life. We left on the best of terms because I told Nicholas how much I had enjoyed my hour with Mr. Carlin in 1985. I have now begun to listen to the broadcasts on YouTube myself, and although I recently had my 79th birthday, I may still be able to benefit from some of Mr Carlin's perception.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Waiting for winter

At the waterfall towards the end of summer before darkness and chill take over, when companionship, fires, candlelight and books will keep us charged.

Romanian artists

I went to photograph a Romanian artist in Newburgh, NY but found two—both sculptors and brothers.    

Constantin, on the right, said, "I knew it was time to leave Romania when my 6 year-old daughter came home from school one day and reported that her teacher had told her that   the President was her father and the President's wife was her mother." That was thirty years ago.

By plane from Romania, Constantin landed in Florida. "I breathed the air and took the next plane out. It happened to be going to Whitehorse in Canada, on the borders of Alaska. I spent three or four happy days in an igloo. I wanted to stay but my wife did not."

Constantin makes a parachute jump once a month. "Just for the thrill of it. My wife doesn't like me to do it."


American soldier

Constantin Radu: "My studio is full of all sorts of crazy things, but I don't like modern. Two railway tracks like this." He raised his arms and crossed them in front of his body and shook his head.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sandy Saunders

Telephone call last week from Sandy to say that I must go and see the cow parsley in his top field. As beautiful as it was, as soon as I saw it I wanted to include a person. Sandy, the guardian and farmer of the land immediately came to mind. Here he is at 7.15 in the evening, just returned from bringing in the last of the hay and mercifully keeping still for one-half a second.

"This field will make good silage."

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Longish hair and hay

We returned to the farm after photographing in the cow parsley to find Matthew, one of Sandy's helpers, standing by the barn. Sandy had warned him that I was on the hunt for more farm subjects and asked him to wait. I looked at the sky. We had 10 minutes, that's enough time. I dug the legs of my tripod into the mixture of hay and manure outside one of the stable doors and screwed on the camera.

Glass polisher

One evening at our favourite (and almost only) restaurant, we noticed a new waitress. Her duties included polishing glasses which she did with the best glass polisher, a good linen napkin. Her actions were swift and thorough; her concentration unwavering.
"Do you ever break one?" (The glasses are particularly fine at this place.)
"Sometimes," she answered shyly. "Then it's usually a Champagne glass, the tall, thin ones." We returned at 4.30 a few weeks later and I photographed her during preparations for dinner.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Girl on a pink bench

"Smile and ask her." I said to Caroline. I sat in the car exhausted from driving to Pennsylvania and back the day before, then playing tennis, followed by a disturbed night. Our dog Louis tried to scare away coyotes by barking at them with his head stuck through the cat flap.

As I sat in the car I thought how unlikely it was for the girl in pajama bottoms, who had disappeared into the laundrette in Beacon, to say no to being asked by Caroline and Louis if she would have her picture taken. Louis, now an invaluable member of the team, trotted towards the launderette guided by Caroline. It was as good as done.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Land Girl

Shelley walked into Sandy's barn just as I was about to start photographing Ben last weekend.

She loves farms, particularly Sandy's: "The most beautiful place on earth," she calls it. And she loves farm work.

I was a child in the 1940's in England during WW II, living in Kent surrounded by farms. Almost all the work on them was done by women and old men — the women were Land Girls from The Women's Land Army. They stooked the wheat, barley and oats, dug the ditches, fed the horses, milked the cows, baled and stacked the hay and drove the tractors. Above is a Land Girl seventy years on in the uniform of today. And below
is the original.

Shelley is also training to be a nurse.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Young Enlishman again

Kit and his father liked this shot better than the one below. The side light has narrowed his face. And he looks comfortable amongst the indecipherable graffiti symbols.

Young Englishman

Fifteen year-old Kit, on a visit from London to see his father who lives in Beacon, NY. I photographed them together but liked this shot the best. It was the last I took. Just as I was about to take the camera off the tripod Kit spoke to me about his love of landscape photography and settled his weight on one foot with his hands behind his back like a leaning tree that had been severely pruned.


I got a call from Caroline. "You gotta come and see this. A couple are getting married at the waterfall. Wading into the pond fully clothed, followed by the reverend." I was too late to see the service. Ben and his friend Maria were not guests, just happened to be there, cooling off on a very hot day.

I took their picture the following day in Sandy's barn which I turned into a studio amongst the hay bales, The subject was lit by the light from an eight foot by ten foot door. Joy for a photographer who does not like lugging lights around. But anyway, what light has been made to equal the quality of north light from the sky? Here is Ben alone. Ben and Maria another day.

Square format

Is her expression a show of firmness of character, or an unflinching contempt for the lens?

Woman with husband

We first saw her with her two children sitting in the shade listening to guitar music at the farmers' market. The way she sat reminded me of a photograph by August Sander called The wife of painter Peter Abelen and her daughter. Her looks too are similar — lean, closely cropped hair, relaxed limbs. Not as cross looking though.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Woman with shoes

I asked her on the telephone what she was going to wear. "I like orange," she said. "That's fine," I said, lying. Then later when she stepped out of her car I saw what a good choice she had made.

Woman with children

The boy wanted to explore the barn. I told him there was nothing there except junk; mostly old mowers that went back to the 1940's. That only encouraged him so I told him there was a ground hog that lived there who did not want to be disturbed. He did not like the sound of that and returned to his mother.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Picture from an exhibition

We sat in the heat at the side of the dirt road leaning back against the grassy bank with Louis our dog at our feet. We were, at least, in the shade. To our right the road stretched away up a hill for a quarter of a mile. My subject, a young man and his girl friend from Beacon, had lost their way and we sat at the junction of the road where they would have to turn to reach the barn that was my studio for a weekend. A car approached and I wave. It draws up and it is not them.

A man lowers the driver's window.

"You want a lift?"

"No thanks, we are waiting for my subjects. I am going to photograph them in the barn over there."

"You're a photographer?


"There were some
really great portraits at an exhibition at the Garrison Art Center last week. I was there.""They were his," said Caroline, leaning towards me.


"Yes." I said.

There we were, sitting in the dust like a couple of exhausted hitchhikers, wondering how we were going to pay the rent and feed the dog when a stranger tells us how much he liked the photographs he saw at an exhibition that barely sold a single print.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dewey Bunnell and Gerry Beckley

"Good band," said my thirty-year-old acquaintance who told us that he woke up one morning the manager of a bunch of metal bands. "America? One of the best." My son Nicholas and I were resting on a bench at the local tennis courts where the metal manager and his friends were waiting to play. I told him of my recent encounter with the music world when Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell performed in the neighboring town of Peekskill on their 40th anniversary world tour. Gerry had found me on the web and I photographed them one mild spring morning at the edge of the Hudson River. The picture appears on the back cover of their latest CD "Back Pages".

They have recently been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Studio for a day

Below are two photographs that I took in this barn. I borrowed it for a day to photograph the owner Sandy Saunders and his ninety-five year-old mother, Risi. Later in the day I did the celebrated riding instructor and breeder of Morgan horses, Leona Dushin, eighty-five. The second floor loft was empty because the recently mown hay that will be stored there, was not yet dry.

I am hoping that there will still be room to photograph people when the hay is dry, baled and stacked inside. I have been long looking for such a place. I love the light from the open door; it is soft, yet sharp and crisp, and there is plenty of it. I find the
clip-clop of the horses hoofs on the concrete floor below very comforting.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Risi and Sandy Saunders

She climbed the steep wooden steps up to the second floor loft without fuss, holding firmly to Sandy's hand and then mine as she reached the top of the stairs. A moment's positioning and a plea from me not to let go of the way she was gripping her son and the picture was taken.

Sandy's family have farmed and lived on the property for 200 years, where he has a herd of Black Angus cattle.

Equestrian star

Leona Dushin wanted to be photographed as a 1920's flapper. I said I thought riding clothes more suitable. She is known and loved for her riding skills, both as a performer and as an instructor. Teaching children is her passion.

I have not seen it, but I would be suprised if she could not now, at the age of eighty-five, still perform the routines she did for the Ringling Brothers Circus when she nineteen.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Wedding anniversary

Everybody deserves a restorative lie down with their dog after a day's work, and especially after twenty-three years of marriage.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Young girl with props

With no help, except to ask someone to straighten her wig, this child devised and found her own props. The occasion of the photograph was the recent Garrison Art Center fundraiser where I took portraits of the guests — mostly with their dogs and their own hair.