Sunday, April 24, 2011


Lily, a grandchild, photographed in London also. "Where am I?" she asked on seeing the picture of her brother Louis posted here two weeks ago. Keeping all good things to last is my answer.

Sam Pemberton

Soccer loving ten year-old Sam, photographed on my recent visit to London.

Cap and hood

High school friends on Main Street, Beacon NY.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Draftswoman and soap maker

When asked by Caroline if I could photograph her, she replied, "I mean, I have totally never had a good picture taken of me."

Gwen is an architectural draughtswoman during the day. At night she goes down into her basement and makes soap and oils that smell deliciously of lavender and geranium.

She sells them regularly at the Beacon farmer's market and online at:

Caroline had mentioned her as a possible subject several times and this weekend we found her at a craft fair in Beacon. I pulled gently on her arm protesting that we both thought she had a wonderful face. Could she please spare five minutes, ask her friend to look after the stall and come with me.

I had found a place with good light two doors down in the entrance to an empty store.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The spare chair

At Le Pain Quotidien, Madison Avenue. A late breakfast. Fun place. Wonderful apricot jam and perfectly boiled eggs. Groups and couples talked earnestly and cheerfully. Strangers in good spirits introduce each other at the long communal table. Then glancing over my shoulder, I saw a quite different mood.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Girl at the Frick Collection

Downstairs where the kitchens once were I suppose, the Frick has put together an exhibition of drawings and etchings by Rembrandt. I loved the self portraits. They were a little difficult to see on Saturday because many are only inches big and people like to step close to examine them thoroughly and you have to wait your turn.

Upstairs we looked at the Rembrandt paintings. As dark as some are, made more so by the low lighting, they held us. Richard Avedon adored the youth on the old nag (The Polish Rider) trotting off to find his fortune. It inspired him as a young man going out into the world.

Admiring it and other old masters was a girl strolling between one painting and another with her audio tour pressed to her ear. She stopped by her mother or father and spoke for a moment before skipping to the next painting. It was her father who first lowered his hand set long enough for me to introduce myself. I asked him if I could photograph his daughter. He agreed and so did she and they obligingly interrupted their viewing of the paintings.

We crossed 70th Street. I asked the girl to stand under the awning of an apartment building. As I was thinking that I liked the clip in her hair, her mother stretched out an arm and removed it. "You don't want this clip, do you? I have a photograph that I like of her at home where she is wearing it. The clip has always irritated me." This was not the moment to argue I thought.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Margaret Drabble

Because I will be discussing Margaret Drabble in my April newsletter I am posting this picture as a teaser. The reason will be revealed on April 8th.

Liking daylight more than any other light source
, and used together with no background clutter, I look for windows near blank walls as soon as I arrive in someone's house. I would have liked to have made the right side of the wall a little darker with a four by two foam core to block off some of the light, but even carrying in a foam core, which weighs about as much as a sheet of newspaper, was apparently too much for me that day.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Comfortable on stone

She was sitting in the back of a
café in Springfield Massachusetts writing. We sat at a table nearer the front. She never looked up from her notebook until, quite suddenly, she closed the book, got up from her chair and stepped towards the door. She passed our table looking neither to the left or right nor saying a word to anyone. I lost my nerve at the sight of this forbidding young woman dressed entirely in white. She disappeared out of the door. Well, I thought, that was that. A chance to photograph someone special gone. You idiot, why didn't you just get up and say something to her? Anything. But to sit there in silence, watching her go by...

Before we left the caf
é I asked at the counter if they knew who she was. "Oh, yes! She comes here all the time."

"May I leave her a note?"

"Certainly, I'll be sure she gets it."

A week later the telephone rang and several weeks after that Elizabeth turned up on the train for lunch, with her two-year-old son. This is one of the photographs I took. We soon discovered that she was far from forbidding; she just had had things on her mind. Caroline and Elizabeth became friends and, as she reminded me the other day, Elizabeth and her son came to my sixtieth birthday party and visited us on other occasions for summer weekend lunches.

Nearly twenty years later she still sends us a Christmas card every year from her home in Virginia, where she married and had a second child.