Thursday, December 5, 2013

Anthony Powell

Because I am baffled by, and because I cannot easily contribute to witty or highbrow conversation, I minded not in the slightest being described by Anthony Powell as follows in his memoir Journals 1982-1986:

He seemed reasonably bright in that quick Slav manner, adapted to talk about anything. I spoke of the Fisher King novel, implications of writing about a photographer. Kasterine made an interesting and significant point that, as in other arts, a photographer will suddenly find he can take no more photographs, just like writer (sic) being written out.

This picture and others of mine are featured in The London Journal: Dmiti Kasterine's Portraits. It is written by David Secombe.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Ballet class, Newburgh Performing Arts Academy

Many people whom I speak to in Newburgh say that there is a need for more after school programs. The only ones I know of are those run by the redoubtable couple Kim Turner and Kevin White who direct the Newburgh Performing Arts Academy and The Boys and Girls Club. One afternoon I recently attended a pre-teen ballet class. It is well known that ballet is a rigorous discipline and the class I attended bore this out. But the children plainly loved it.

Friday, November 22, 2013


All summer we looked for the flippers whom Caroline had first seen a year ago in the park surrounding Washington's Headquarters in Newburgh. Whenever we were in Newburgh we looked out for them.  Never a sign―just people saying they saw them yesterday or last week. One Saturday they actually came up to us on their bikes to say hello while we were standing talking to a friend on Liberty Street. But we were on our way to film somewhere else and there was no time to do anything.

A month later I was driving down DuBois Street and there they were. I leaped from the car and asked if I could film them there, where they stood, on that nice wide stretch of sidewalk. Thinking they might want softer ground I was prepared for them to say no. But they agreed without hesitation and giving not the slightest heed to the hard surface, and without one fall or collision with a passerby, they cartwheeled up and down. One of the group was a girl whom we had not seen before. Last semester she had won a prize for gymnastics at school .

Sunday, November 3, 2013


Police were investigating a shooting just yards from here on South Williams Street in Newburgh, NY. People waited for something to happen. Nothing did. At last, the police, shouldering their rifles, climbed into their cars and drove away. Nobody had been hurt but somebody had been arrested. The girl above was there to see the fun with her mother, her sister and a friend, none of whom had any connection with the arrest. They talked and smoked and drank soda and asked me questions about where I came from and how long I had been working on my film.

Suddenly their friend looked at me and said, "Are you psychic?" I said no but things did pop into my head from time to time, mostly somebody's death. I discovered it to be true when I read about the death a few hours or days later.

I asked if she were psychic and she said she was.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Eleven years later

Toni had here first child at 19. She is now 28 and has three children, the youngest of whom we see here. Toni's boyfriend is the father of all her children but he is away for a while and she misses him very much. She lives in a three room apartment with the blinds permanently down. In her neighbour's yard three dogs roam and bark; she feeds them sliced bread through a window to keep them quiet.

Toni has had to cope with a number of difficulties in her life including the murder of her niece that took place at the Newburgh Free Academy five years ago. She puts her ability to cope down to being an orphan from the age of seven. "I grew up with just me. I grew up having to survive. Maybe where I recently got my strength was from my sister, after the murder of her daughter."

Toni, aged 17, when she replied to my request to take her picture, "Of course, the camera loves me."

Monday, August 19, 2013

Preserving the antique...

Shelly II has lived on the farm for ten years. She has a natural gift with horses and has become highly skilled at mowing, raking and stacking hay. The video shows her working at both methods of baling, one which she likes and the other which she dislikes. Recently Shelly qualified as a nurse but she still has time to drive the tractors and bale the hay.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Mothers and children on Chambers Street in Newburgh, NY

I set up my camera amongst a gathering of 15 or so mothers and children on Chambers Street in Newburgh NY, switched it on and wandered about looking as though I did not know what to do next. This may be is why nobody really took any notice of me.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Calm Face in Newburgh

When I saw her in the street today I gave her a color version of this picture and she disappeared into her house for five minutes. She returned and asked when could I give her mother a copy of her picture. I thought. Who is her mother amongst the photographs I had taken of this girl's family? It could only be the one I called "Girl leaning against pillar in red and white striped shirt." I asked how old her mother was. 

"She's twenty-nine ."

"How old are you," I asked.


I came home and made a print of her mother whom I had already posted, but not knowing who she was.    

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sandy's Barn Dance

For years I avoided the popular annual barn dance given by our farming neighbor, Sandy Saunders. Didn't like the music, didn't like the crowds. This year, though, as part of my venture making a film about Sandy, I went. And enjoyed every moment of it. (Well, I didn't dance because I was there to film it.) The volunteer labor force worked without a pause for ten hours preparing it and Sandy himself featured prominently in every aspect of the preparations.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Bare legs, undone button

The girl sat down after she asked if I would photograph her. Then the legs appeared.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Recent graduates and company

It took a little time to assemble this group. Friends and relatives of the original five or six girls jumping on the steps of their house wanted to join the group as they drove or walked by. This either upset the look of the group or distracted the people in it. Finally a little peace descended over us when additions to the group dried up and passing drivers ceased to catcall.

The high spirits were partly due to the two girls in flowered skirts on the left. They had graduated from their school that afternoon.

Granny was there when I first turned up―enjoying her large family, but she soon disappeared inside when I asked her to stand over there instead of where she was. I think she also saw that helping to control the young people was not a battle she wanted to take part in. Just as I had things in a fairly orderly way, she appeared at a second floor window and asked when her pizza was coming. An added hazard was that two of the women wanted to photograph me while I was struggling to photograph them.

Young man and his fiancé

"I'll bring you 50 dollars tomorrow," he shouted as he left his sisters who had been such a rich source of subjects for me. He used to live in their house, the only male amongst seven or eight women and girls. "I moved out as soon as I could afford it, to get a bit of peace and quiet."

He has a job with a moving company in New Windsor, NY and told me that his father had drummed into him the necessity to leave no stone unturned to find work. This included going to every party there was, because that is how you meet people who can help you find a job. And that was indeed how he found this one, through a friend at a party who told him that his company needed people.


Comfortably seated

Looking at this picture I think how comfortable she looks. But I wonder if she is, considering the edge of the pillar is pressing into her temple.

Friday, June 21, 2013

The love of horses

Every year during Memorial Day weekend Sandy Saunders, who farms 150 acres in Garrison, New York, invites Leona Dushin, seen here on the right, to bring her horses and young riders to spend two days and nights in the ring, jumping and dressage in the fields, and sleeping in the hayloft of the stable barn. The photograph is of Caroline and others watching a demonstration, given by Hope Turino of Equine Assisted Growth Learning Association, of how we can overcome troubles and develop skills through studying a horse's reaction to our behaviour with them.

Leona is 88 years old, and many of her horses are Morgans which she has bred herself. "When I started these pony camps just after World War II we were all boys. Then the boys became interested in masculine sports like lacrosse, and now I do not have a single boy."

I was a boy who had always ridden and who never took to masculine sports. As a child in England, I was first taught by Miss Rogers in Crockham Hill, Kent. She had all of the discipline and loud voice of Leona without her humour and gentleness. When I was in my early teens I was taught by Sam Marsh, a former Olympic rider.

Then, for a number of years in the 50s and 60s, I rode in the early mornings in Richmond Park in London, exercising polo ponies with my friends Tatyana and Marina Orloff, who were sisters and also half Russian. It cost nothing — you went out once with the head lad of the stable and if he saw you were all right with his ponies, you could come as often as you liked at 7:30 in the morning and walk and canter for an hour across the rough grass and bracken in the park.

Sandy Saunders more or less runs the farm single-handed. For ten years he has had help from Shelley Scott, a 28 year-old recently qualified nurse. She loves the farm and the work, lives over one of Sandy's barns, and arranges her nursing schedule so that she can still be there for the horses and haymaking. Now that she has steady work as a nurse she wants to buy a horse herself. "You can buy a racehorse for a dollar. If they don't win races they are useless to their owners."

I am filming Sandy and his life on the farm. Here is a sequence I made last autumn.

Friday, May 31, 2013

John, a member of the journalist class at Newburgh Free Academy

In partnership with the Newburgh Free Academy, Newburgh, NY, I was awarded a grant this spring by Arts in Orange County to give workshops on the subject of Observation. The workshops began badly when I asked the class to give up texting and look at what was around them. I also told them that if they were observing acutely and constantly, they would loose friends, as only their best friends would understand what they were trying to do. When we go out with a camera or a note book (which we should always be doing) we have little time for anything else but looking, I told them. 

Photographer and his architect friend from Newburgh Free Academy

Two of my students from the photography class in my workshop on Observation. He is a photographer, she is not―she studies architecture, but she is a devoted friend who likes to be with him during her free classes. 

I could teach him nothing. He had been to many different locations in the week between classes to take landscapes and pictures of her. He had nobody to text―she being his only friend that mattered, and she understanding completely his quest.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Ford Tractor 1946-

Sandy Saunders farms 150 acres of pasture in Garrison NY. His parents converted their herd of milk cattle to beef in 1942 when his father left to fight in World War II. His mother could not manage the milking alone. This is a segment from my proposed documentary about life on the farm.

He manages the farm almost single handed. He has help from a 26 year-old nurse, Shelley Scott, during the haymaking season, and she also feeds the four horses that have been taken in as guests and borders. She has worked on the farm since she was 14.

Sandy is also an engineer and aviator. He has a 1986 Maule M5 180C light aircraft, known for its short take-off and landing capabilities. "When I first had the airplane I kept it at Stewart with its gigantic heavy jet runways. I used to amuse the controllers by landing on the numbers at the threshold of the runway and stopping on the numbers." 

In the engineering field, when Sandy heard that the Tapan Zee Bridge was going to be rebuilt, he designed a tunnel as an alternative to the new bridge. The tunnel, he says, is cheaper by a billion dollars, quicker to construct, would include mass transit and heavy rail, and meet environmental standards.

"The Governor is hell bent on building these bridges which are going to be very useless and very intrusive, and he absolutely refuses to follow the more modern world and doing it as a tunnel."

Monday, March 4, 2013

Exhibition in Spain of artists and writers

This is the poster for an exhibition in Valladolid, Spain of some of my portraits of artists, writers and performers taken between 1963 and 1988 in Europe and the United States. 

A little research revealed that the city of Valladolid, in the region of Castile and León, the largest autonomous region in Europe, was founded in the 11th century. Christopher Columbus died there. Phillip II was born there and Isabella and Ferdinand were married there. 

The show is being curated by Dª Cristina Albornoz who reviewed my exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery in London in 2011 for the Spanish magazine XL SEMANAL. At the time she said she would like to do a show for me in Spain and she has.

I took the picture of David Hockney in the mid 1970s when he was living in Paris. This is the courtyard of his studio. I remember running through London Airport to catch the plane, slipped and skidded along the floor. I was helped to my feet by fellow travelers, uninjured, and made the flight. Today it would be safer to miss your plane than run through an airport swinging camera bags.

The show runs from March 14 to May 5 2013.

Stanley Kubrick

I took this picture of Stanley Kubrick under a camera platform built on the set of
A Clockwork Orange near Kingston-upon-Thames, England in 1970. The publishers Fotofolio have recently made it into a postcard. 

Stanley and I were sheltering from the rain underneath the camera platform and shortly after I took the picture the platform began creaking and groaning and then wobbled and collapsed. As the creaking and groaning began, both of us leaped out from under it like rabbits bolting.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Dana and Ava

Dana and Ava are childhood friends who grew up in Garrison, NY and are both now active in environmental matters. We in Garrison are in the throws of an almighty quarrel with the Town Board  who intend to pave a much loved piece of Old Albany Post Road that runs through farmland. 

The Highway Department are unable to solve the engineering problems associated with dirt road maintenance in spite of the fact that dirt roads are maintained all over the country at a reasonable cost. Books and articles have been written. Recommendations from engineers and highway superintendents have been tried and proven in this and other states. The protest is enormous and there will be a fight to the last man or woman standing. 

The opposing sides are not divided between generations or between political parties. All the young people we have spoken to love the dirt roads, but are the first to admit that if they are paved, they will be driving down them in their cars and on their motorbikes at at high speeds. Danger to animals and pedestrians is a constant cry.

I am making a short film about some of the questions that have arisen in this battle, interviewing families who walk the paved roads, and others who are qualified to talk about the engineering and financial side of it.  I am on the side of the anti paving so this will not be a balanced film.