Monday, December 28, 2015

A very nice young couple

The day before Christmas Eve we were asked for a drink with Shelley Boris¹. Her nephew Rhys, aged 17, wanted to meet me because of my connection with Stanley Kubrick. (I had worked as a stills photographer on three of his films.) On the way there, tired from editing and printing, we decided I would say that I was now suffering from senile decay and I could not remember who Stanley Kubrick was.

We did not go through with this as the young man was very polite and asked me few questions. He knew quite as much as I did about Stanley and his films and avoided asking the dreaded question, "What was his creative process?" I was happy to tell a few anecdotes and recommend a book about Stanley by Alexander Walker, the London Evening Standard film critic in the 60s and 70s, called Stanley Kubrick Directs. Altogether a very pleasant evening with Shelley cooking an outstanding spaghetti carbonara

The next day I photographed Rhys and his girlfriend Madison.

1. Shelley Boris, chef, author of Fresh Cooking: a Year of Recipes From the Garrison Institute Kitchen.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Friends on the corner of Dubois and First Street

The girl on the left, sitting with her school friend, lives with her mother and brother at  
Project L.I.F.E., a homeless shelter. Every day after school she babysits. She is waiting to meet the child off the school bus on the corner of Dubois and First Street.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Young girl in pink

We were on Williams Street in Newburgh on Sunday afternoon to film a woman and her boyfriend. At the last minute she was unable to make it, but as often happens, I found another subject. We chatted with the woman's mother who was minding six or seven children; this was one of them.   

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Homeless on Broadway, Newburgh NY

With winter approaching the question of homelessness is acute. We asked this homeless 57 year-old what plans he had;  dreams of warmer places, friends with apartments, more money for rent and...

He is standing on Broadway looking over to the Wherehouse and is lit by the lights from the Ritz Marquee. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Forever, aged seven

We were filming a 27 year-old woman who has five children and expecting her sixth. Caroline nudged me and said, "Don't you think you'd better photograph Catherine's seven-year-old? She's beautiful."

Thanks largely to Patricia at the Regional Economic Community Action Program, Catherine and her five children have a roof over their heads in a motel shelter. They live in one room. Patricia is looking for an apartment for them. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015


Alissa is homeless because — "My father chose his girl friend over me." She sleeps in a car with her boy friend who does a paper run upstate. She spends the day with her boyfriend's brother, and another friend, both of whom are homeless. Often they are in Newburgh because the people, "who have less are the people who are more willing to help. The people who have money tend to treat you like you are diseased, or you are bothering them."

Monday, October 5, 2015

Mother and baby on doorstep with friend

I put my camera on the tripod and pressed record. This did not worry them. I decided as soon as I saw them that the picture and action were the thing. I would not be able to record intelligibly the secrets they were sharing; a microphone on the end of a nine foot pole would have scared them away. I walked away leaving the camera running and talked to my crew and other possible subjects on the other side of the street. The couple were too close to each other, too eager to hear the latest news to see or care they were being filmed. 

I felt they knew the small stubby mic mounted atop the camera was not going to make much sense of their conversation amidst the traffic noise and rapping from car radios. Why move from the comfort of that doorstep; so convenient for cigarettes from the corner store.


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Couple with five children

On the left is Tiffany, sitting with her partner Michelle. They have five children between them. Tiffany does not want to give Newburgh a chance. She is worried about how to bring up her children there, "To be good citizens, to be good people, to do the right thing. To go to school, to treat others how they want to be treated, to have positive attitudes. To make something out of life because you only get one." Tiffany would like to leave Newburgh. Michelle wants to stick it out. "If we just have a little bit more faith in us, in the community, we would make it."   

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Gathering of friends on Lander Street, Newburgh, NY

A very hot day in September. Friendships, teasing, frayed tempers, thirst and criticism of Newburgh run high.

Man's best friend

Here is Travis and his very dear friend Vegas. Vegas did not like the look of either the camera tripod nor the nine foot microphone boom pole when we were setting up to film. He barked and danced about but Travis gently calmed him down explaining that he was perfectly safe and that we needed the equipment to film. As can be seen from this picture, Vegas understood this and sat still and alert, allowing his master to speak his mind about the plight of Newburgh without interruption.

Father and daughter on Lander Street, Newburgh NY

The bulk of the filming of Newburgh: Beauty and Tragedy is complete. If we are lucky with the weather we shall be able to finish it and start work on the editing in November.

At the end of our interview with Point, we asked if we could see his daughter. He spends a lot of time looking after her and he has a particularly gentle way with her. Amongst the violence and hardship that Point experienced during his childhood, he suffered as much, he said, from his father's absence. He does not want that to happen between him and his daughter.

Friday, September 11, 2015


Two of the fine house on the south end of Lander Street in Newburgh NY. Built in the days when materials and workmanship were of the highest quality, it is not surprising that some, like these two, have survived being unoccupied for forty years, and could still be saved.

South end of Lander Street

This popular and extroverted girl sat with her friends on the stoop of a house on the south end of Lander Street in Newburgh NY. Here stand doomed houses ready for execution by the wrecker's ball.

She had words to say about the terrible food in her school, and the mice that ran free. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Twilight on Broadway

I stop people on street corners always by a corner store so that I have light to illuminate them. I ask them to stand stock still.  The world whirls around them, shadowy figures and tearing cars.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Mother with one of her nine children

Mother and daughter on Dubois Street. One of nine children.

Finely dressed Vietnam veteran

Driving home from the City Terrace block party (outstanding Jamaican disk jockey and dancing from 50 year-old mothers), we passed three men in the bus shelter on the corner of Broadway and Liberty. Tavares said, "Did you see them?" We stopped and walked back. Two of the men said no to photographs but the third said yes.

He is a Vietnam veteran. I asked him if he had seen Full Metal Jacket. "The only one," he replied. After a pause he added, "And Apocalypse Now." 

Later I asked Caroline if she thought the three men were waiting for a bus. "Oh, no, the bus shelter is the senior citizen center."

Monday, August 17, 2015

August on Broadway

                                                                                                                                                Photograph by Caroline Kasterine

Our sound crew crossing Broadway in Newburgh to film Amina. Amina is a librarian who collects books that are donated by libraries and parents. She loads them on to wagons and gives them away to children on the streets of Newburgh. 

The Fullerton Cultural Center are helping by allowing books to be dropped off at their carriage house. Amina and her two children are seen in the video below on a recent 93 degree day on Lander Street, distributing books from one of their wagons donated by a Newburgh resident. The success of this endeavor is one example of the generosity that  exists in Newburgh.

My two sound recordists, Veronica, age 18 and Tavares, aged 23, are both Newburgh residents whom I trained from scratch. Not difficult; Veronica is a singer, and Tavares a music lover who has experience with studio recording.


Advice to the city council

Two sisters of Liberty Street give their views on what must be done with the city they love.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Remembering a tragedy, Newburgh NY

A young woman looks down the street where her brother crashed his car into a tree as he was being chased by the police. He died on the way to hospital.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Father, mother and daughter, Newburgh NY, 1997

With a view to interviewing or recording conversations with some of my subjects from my book Newburgh: Portrait of a City, I recently asked Veronica, our production assistant and fixer, to look at a number of photographs in the book to see if she knew any of the people in the photographs, or their whereabouts. Below is one of the pictures I showed her. She recognized the 13 year-old (now 31) and knew where she lived although she did not remember her name.
Yesterday we went round to her house but she was not there. While we stood outside talking to the neighbors, a car drew up and a middle-aged woman climbed out followed by a younger woman. "That's them," said Veronica. The mother's name is Jacqueline Burnett. Her daughter is Natalie.

Mother and child on Liberty Street, Newburgh NY

Fearing an accident I have relinquished the driving in Newburgh to Caroline so that I can look for subjects with both eyes. But it was eagle eyes herself who spotted this mother and child. (They were on her side of the street and she had stopped at a light.)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Street fun

The young man looks as though he is in imminent danger, but in fact it is the end of a failed flirtation.  He had spoken to both girls in an attempt to woo them, but had no success.  The girl on the left is telling him what-for, her finger pointing accusingly and silencingly:  she's not going to hear any more from him.  Yet she was amused, as was her friend on the right.  The back-and-forth was, in the end, all in jest.

Monday, June 29, 2015


Beauty but trouble. I have the horrible thought that one day downtown Newburgh NY will be a cluster of condos. The wrecker's ball will have swung for the last time and the resplendent Victorian architecture will be dust and smithereens.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Roald Dahl

I recently gave a print of this photograph to the Garrison Children's Education Fund where it was auctioned at their Spring Thaw fundraiser. The winner, Kyoko Gelber, gave it to the Desmond Fish Library because, "We (including our girls, who LOVE Dahl) feel that it belongs in the library where many more people can enjoy it." 

I took the picture in the mid 1970’s at Roald Dahl’s house in Great Missenden, Buckinghamshire, 35 miles north west of London.  The exact location of the photograph is the indoor swimming pool. 

I was still living in England when I wrote to Roald asking if I could photograph him. Although I received commissions from British magazines to photograph writers, I tried to avoid being commissioned to take my favourite writers, because, under such circumstances, there is always an element of collusion with either the magazine, the agent, the publisher or the author himself. It is a rare magazine that leaves you alone. I was lucky with one or two who did leave me alone.

The purpose of photographing the writers was to publish a book. After I photographed each one I wrote to him or her enclosing the photograph I had made. I asked for a short comment on the photograph in respect of themselves. Roald’s reply after I sent him his picture was that 30 degrees from the vertical was his attitude to life. I never found a publisher for the book.

We became friends and went to France together to do an article about Romanée Conti, the 4.0 acres vineyard in Burgundy, which produces the most luscious red wine (Napoleon’s favorite). It is now rarely drunk, only traded in. A good vintage goes for $25,000 a bottle. We were not offered a glass of either Romanée Conti or its sister estates La Romanée and La Tâche.

Roald wrote a scathing piece and was threatened with lawsuits. He did not budge from his opinion of the proprietor or her behavior and the lawsuit was dropped.

Roald himself had an outstanding cellar of Bordeaux wines that he never failed to share with his friends. I remember many a dinner with bottles of his favourite Chateau Cos D’Estournel, nearly always with tarragon chicken, tarragon that he grew himself.

Roald was remarkably tall — 6’ 6”. During the Second World War he had to crash land his fighter plane in the Libyan Desert, after being given the wrong directions by his commander. He was severely injured and walked with a limp for the rest of his life. I never heard him complain.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Shay Sellars

We first saw this conspicuously elegant woman at one of Michael Green's gatherings at the Fullerton Mansion for Culture & History in Newburgh. Shortly after that we met at Martha's Café, not before Caroline had nudged me and said that I should photograph her. 

Shay lives in a recently restored house on Chambers Street where she also runs her property developing business. She had first read about the opportunities in Newburgh in a  New York Times article and was immediately interested. She needed only a glance to know it was where she wanted to be when she drove to Newburgh from her home in Bedford- Stuyvesant. So beautiful and so much opportunity to launch her redevelopment project. Her website explains this venture: click on current projects. 

Monday, March 9, 2015

Restaurant Les 5 Portes

What is it about a restaurant that draws one to it? It is never the food. The people who go  there head the list. Then comes the look and feel of the place. The welcome is important—it must be short, genuine and warm. Then the service—speedy, quiet and without cheeriness. This place, Restaurant Les 5 Portes, only a step from the center of Geneva, has all those ingredients. Good simple food too.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Katya Kasterine, Ferney-Voltaire, France

My grandchild, 14 year-old Katya Kasterine, gossips with her sister in French, argues and pleads with her mother in Spanish, and with her father in English. 

Dinner at Café Charlot, Paris, France

After an absence of many years I was thrilled to see that what the French still cared most about was food, good service and love. Not to mention the great concern they have to preserve their buildings.

Getting there now from England by Eurostar is probably the most pleasant travel experience you can have anywhere in the world. We went standard premier which meant that you get a light lunch. It was excellent with service to match. It is a thrill to travel at 180 mph, even if it feels as though you are not — the train moves in an effortless vibrationless glide.

Lunch at Café Charlot

We discovered this place by asking at Isabel Marant in the Marais where my daughter Cathy had also sought help in finding places to eat. Then we asked the Italian couple who were lunching at the next table to us where else they went. They said the Brasserie Flo, which was where we landed up that evening. See next post.   

Diners at Brasserie Flo

The French at dinner are mostly wholly absorbed in their meal as are the trio on the right or wholly absorbed in each other as are the couple on the left. In the next post we see that love has taken over completely from food.

A loving couple at dinner on Rue Jacob, Paris

Where food and wine are secondary...

The Eiffel Tower

This was the woman who told Caroline how to get into the Louvre without queuing, legally, avec un billet. Do you think we are going to tell you how? 

The lady is there most days around 10.30 in the morning to walk her dog at the edge of Les Jardin des Tuileries. She speaks English. Clue: it is an entrance under an arch and is closed on Thursdays. There were just four people buying tickets when we found it. The queue to get in by the other two entrances was estimated at four hours—and this was February. 


Lily is my daughter Cathy's eldest child. She is head girl at her primary school in Kensal Rise in London. 

When she puts on her mother's white kitchen apron and horn-rimmed glasses, attaches a questionnaire to her clipboard and strides in to examine the state of the kitchen as the local health inspector, you would never know she was not the real thing. Tone of voice, stance, jargon — it's all there, perfectly performed.  

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Miami: our hosts, George and Emily Lansbury

George and Emily at the Raleigh Hotel — the only place, unless you count next door. It was a cold day (75 degrees F). The guard at the pool was falling asleep from lack of business. Brunch and service were perfect. I wondered who the people around us were and what they did. Next door at the Delano, one glance and you know what they did.

En route to Miami

By JetBlue to Miami, the low cost American airline. Like EasyJet in Europe but without the fights in the isles, and much more expensive. 

Proper photographers do not take sunsets. I offer no excuse.

Miami: one foot in the air

Skateboarding father. I stood behind a bench in the shade, focused on the middle of the path, set a slow shutter-speed and waited.

Miami: elegant rollerbladder

Rollerbladers: some are elegant, some awkward, some steady, others are acrobatic.

Miami: not illegal (or is it?)

 This street is not one way...

Miami: beach loving couple

He is Polish, she is German. They live in Key Largo, where he runs a scuba diving school and she owns a management consulting business based in Germany. "I go there every few months, otherwise I can run it very well from Key Largo." Caroline and I were invited to Key Largo. If we had not been going to London surely we would have accepted.  

Young women with name and number

When I asked if I could take her picture, her friend said she was famous. After I took the picture she said she was returning to Boston the next day and hoped we could work together in the future. Some work—two clicks and done. We too were heading back north to the Hudson Valley and wondered who they were. Perhaps her tattoo reveals that.    

Miami: A South Beach smile

It was a Tuesday, mid-afternoon on Ocean Drive. Time on her hands. 

Miami tassels

A peaceful day on South Beach. Two friends with their phones. They were not sure they knew what we meant when we said we would send them a print of the photograph. "You mean... like a polaroid?"

Miami: faded beauty

Faded but not yet done. I'd liked to think the proprietors were taking a day off. When they returned, I'd imagined the waiting customers spilling into the street. 

I had been turned loose in the warehouse district by Emily (our host) and Caroline. They had gone to the beach. Many artists and galleries have found spaces to live and work in this North West district.  

Friday, January 23, 2015

Valentine from Newburgh, NY

This is a Valentine from Newburgh to all those who love the place. It features the guitarist Ralph Atkins who has lived there since the 1970s. As he plays, and describes the importance of love and freedom, we catch glimpses of people who illustrate his way of life.

Monday, January 5, 2015

The Finest: Martha and The Wherehouse

This is Alysia, friend of David Ludwig, proprietor of Martha, the coffee shop and café in Newburgh, NY. I do not why, but the two best eating places in our part of the Hudson Valley are in Newburgh, the overlooked and ignored city on the wrong side of the river. Besides helping at the café, Alysia is a film maker, ink and water colorist and photographer.

Simple and perfectly cooked food at the right price, quickly made and served in soothing surroundings, Martha serves such rarities as coffee in large plain white cups and saucers, carrot butter, kimchi and curried tuna.

It is named after you know who, who's husband's headquarters stands across the street. 

Almost next door is The Wherehouse, the second of the two finest of the Hudson Valley.  It is scarcely soothing ― being a pub with TV and music (often live) ― but Dan Brown, the owner, can make you laugh however you are feeling.  His wife Michele double checks everything—including Dan and the place runs as smoothly as silk.

Burgers etc., cooked how you expected them, are served in a room lined with vintage LP record covers. The Wherehouse also offers a selection of vegan and vegetarian fare: onion soup and vegan chili.  The vinyl records from the covers are stuck to the ceiling. Lighted beer ads facing outwards are placed in the large windows and give the room a soft glow. 

Below is Dan and his wife Michele with some of their staff at the Wherehouse. Between them they have a gift for finding people who are friendly and efficient but never familiar. Dan gives benefit nights to artists, writers and local businesses when he sees they need some help with a project. Often the evenings are supported by Newburgh Brewing Company.