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.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

College friends

Having sworn I would never photograph any more people against the unrelenting green of the Hudson Valley summer landscape, I yesterday drove around and found a no longer used car wash at the local gas station. It had good light, a neutral background and a manager who was delighted that it was going to be of some use to somebody.

Caroline was with our dog Louis frog hunting at the waterfall the day before, when one of the three or four young people splashing around in the pond hailed her. It was the girl on the right in the picture. Caroline remembered her as a child of ten. The other girl in the picture, also cooling at the waterfall, is her friend of five years with whom she shares an apartment in Sunset Park, Brooklyn.