Thursday, March 24, 2011

What do you want?

This is Louis, my daughter Cathy's son, taken in London where I gave a talk at the National Portrait Gallery last month. Louis enjoyed the evening because my son Nicholas wore a tie, and that, thought Louis, is exactly what I am gong to do. He wore it for a while and then had an even better time whirring it around his head.

Before the talk I wrote out in longhand a good deal of what I was going to say but decided not to use the script, nor did I use the headings I had made. A talk is a talk and not a lecture or a speech. I began by recounting my feeling of hope that the gallery would call and say that a dissatisfied visitor had attacked the photographs on the walls with his umbrella and the talk was cancelled. We could all then go straight to the Chinese restaurant. My point was that it is about the same strain to face giving a talk as it is taking a portrait; half of you is fearful of it and wishes it cancelled.

Calm moment

This is Maya
, my son Alexander's eldest daughter. She is bilingual in French, Spanish and English. She lives near Geneva, Switzerland. Her mother is Chilean and an artist. Maya was sitting at the refectory table in Cathy's house in London, under an overhead light, when I noticed her expression.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


She lives in Crown Heights with her mother in the same apartment in which she was born, eighteen years ago. She wants to go to Suny, New Paltz, in upstate New York. "Beautiful place, I love it." But she is not sure her mother can pay for it.

"For many months I have been looking for work. I cannot find any."

Words couple

They were sitting on a bench on Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn. I wanted to snap them as they were. She was massaging his temples tenderly but the background was a car with disturbing color and contrast. I asked them if I could photograph them in the shade of a tree close by. He replied first, "I would love that." She said, "Awesome." Later they told us that he got headaches and she got rid of them for him. They both love words. She works for a literary agent and he for a magazine about infrastructure. I asked him if he studied engineering at school. "No, comparative literature." "What is that?" Caroline asked. "It's not anything," he replied. They loved Crown Heights and later we saw them again as we headed towards Breukelen Coffee House, a haunt they too like.