Monday, March 3, 2014

James Patterson, writer, film producer, philanthropist

Two weeks ago the telephone rang and Leopoldo Gout introduced himself as the executive in charge of production of a project. He told me they were making a documentary about Belle Glade in Florida, written, produced and with commentary spoken by a well known writer. The writer, he said, had seen my photographs of Newburgh and wanted to use them in his film. He was born and brought up in Newburgh and Newburgh is not unlike Belle Glade in many respects. They would also like me to photograph the writer.

"May I ask who the writer is?"

"James Patterson."

The shoot took place in Newburgh where Mr. Patterson was filming some street scenes to intercut with the main narrative in Belle Glade.  The weather on the day of the shoot had began fine, but by eleven, when they wanted me to take Mr. Patterson's picture, it was raining and snowing. 

I had already decided on a foul weather location. I had called Dan Brown, the proprietor of The Wherehouse, the popular pub on Liberty Street. In his back room he has a window facing north of the size that gives exactly the crisp light I like. I knew it of old, having done some pictures of Newburgh citizens there last summer.

                                                                               Photograph by Leopoldo Gout

Lunch on the river—mist and ice covered—at Cena 2000. James, his wife Susan and six film crew. Three very smartly dressed forty-year-old women were the only other guests. James asked me about my career. 

"Mostly magazines doing portraits of artist and writers. Now I sell the prints to collectors." I replied.  

I told him that many photographers I knew did advertising work also, and that I had tried but had not got on well. "You know what it was—you were in it once." 

He said, "I've been clean for twenty years." 


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