Tuesday, July 10, 2012

24 and 7th

Today we celebrate 24 years of married bliss, and Roger Federer's Wimbledon win; his  seventh. Our wedding took place in our loft on Lafayette Street in NYC, but no pictures were taken so we dressed up again a few days after the wedding and set the delayed action. On my right is my son Alexander and on my left my daughter Cathy.

We spent today gardening; weeding to encourage nature's finest ground cover, Vinca Minor to spread, and spraying things with Dawn to keep the bugs off. Tonight we will open a bottle of Auxey-Duresse given to us by Nick Groombridge when he came round to show us his McLaren the other day.

The glory that is surrounding Murray's loss at Wimbledon is perplexing. You might have thought he had won. I can't remember a runner-up so praised. Caroline took another line: "The Queen should put him in the Tower; even have his head off." I pointed out that his being Scottish, with their impending independence, that's now not so easy. Federer does not read press reports about himself or an other player, he tells us, so he does not care  about all this.


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Damaris on Liberty Street in Newburgh, 102 °F

After we finished taking the photographs we sat outside The Wherehouse and Damaris and Shakuur flipped through the dummy of my book, Newburgh: Portrait of a City. They recognized many people. with cries of, "I know her... I know him."

Turning the pages, Shakuur said, "There's Trista — my first. That's Sheila — she's blind now, she lives in Albany."

"Was she a girlfriend too?" I asked.

"He wouldn't remember," Damaris said.

Shakuur took no notice. "She has two daughters, they are beautiful. They are beautiful."

As they continued to look to see who they knew in the book, Shakuur glanced at the passing cars. He waved and yelled greetings to the occupants of many that passed. "I have an eye for this — recognizing people."

"This baby ... he's grown up now. That's his mother's girlfriend holding him; she was bi-sexual. They were openly gay in high school and she helped raise the kid."

More pages were turned. Damaris said, "This woman ran a whorehouse. My grandmother and her sister were girls then. Being half Native American they had long hair and she chopped it off ... for wigs.

Part of the beauty of Damaris and others I photographed is from the mixture of blood: African and Native American. Damaris is also part white, she told us, Jewish.

Here is Damaris in the original picture I did of her with a friend 14 or 15 years ago. I never knew her name; she just told me they were on their way to work at the mall, but they could spare a minute. It was not until earlier this year when we started to look for some of my subjects that we encountered a cousin of hers who put us in touch. 


I don't know that I ever did justice to the 15 year-old Damaris when I first took her picture with her friend Shamika. We used it as a card and we used it as the photograph on the main page of our Kickstarter fundraising campaign. It is an appealing photograph, but it's a soppy photograph. I wanted to do better and get something with more guts to it. Here is Damaris today, aged nearly 30 years-old, taken on Liberty Street in Newburgh last week.
Continued in next post.

Damaris and Yours Truly

Damaris arrived punctually as always, but my heart sank because she had brought a friend. When I was introduced, he said, "I'm her husband." My heart had sunk a little because friends, wives, husbands, lawyers, agents and well wishers of any description can stand in the subject's eyeline, talk, coo, and make suggestions as to how to do the picture. 

This husband, although he followed us down the street where I wanted to take the picture, went back to sit with Caroline and Louis outside The Wherehouse, as soon as I asked him. (Not before I had decided to do a photograph of them together, later.)

"We are married but separated," he told me as he stood beside his wife. She had already told me that they were living apart. "He has to get his act together, and then we'll see."  

Yours Truly is how Damaris' husband, Shakuur, refers to himself.
Continued in next post.