Sunday, February 26, 2017

Things seen in photographs during a second look.

She was with a group of friends who were chatting and fooling about on the corner of First and Dubois in Newburgh, NY, and I wanted to photograph her. It would be no good asking her because they would all want to be done. Instead, I first photographed everybody in the group so that I could then ask Eden if I could photograph her alone. She agreed.

Looking at the picture later, I thought, no, at the time I took the photograph, I did not see how neatly her bag fitted under her arm, or, that the position of her sagging belt buckle is ambiguous, or how the sagging buckle exposes the small ribbon bow tied at her waist — a masterly piece of styling. All I noticed was her face as she stood quietly with her friends.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017


Here is a Polaroid of Caroline that I took in 1987 in our studio on Lafayette Street, NYC. It might be the first photograph I took of her and it was probably a test shot to judge the lighting and exposure for a magazine shoot. I had written on the back of it the exposure meter readings on the subject and on the background.

Frequently I found that the test shot was better than the real thing (certainly in this case),  although we cannot remember the shoot that this was made for, but it hardly matters.

Using transparency film, as everybody did then, correct exposures were very important, as there was no Photoshop to save you. Anything more than 1/2 stop over exposed was unusable, but 1/2 stop under could be adjusted nicely in the developing.

This is very much how I remember Caroline looking when I first saw her in the framing department of New York Central on 3rd Avenue.  

Thursday, February 2, 2017

A man who remembers urban renewal

Out in all weathers, our friend, a man we have encountered several times during the filming of Newburgh: Portrait of a City, was eager to talk of Newburgh's troubles, but equally as eager to point out what a beautiful place it is.

"It is also home," he said.

I saw him recently and asked him if he could spare a moment. As always he smiled and said, yes, of course.

First he told us that in spite of the wheelchair he was in good health. He said that this was because when he goes to the store, he always parks his wheel chair outside and walks round the store.

Then he told us that what started Newburgh on the downhill path was that the city was never rebuilt after urban renewal.

"Much of the east end, leading down to the river, was torn down. This was where the factories were and where the blacks lived," he said. "But the rebuilding never took place. The funds were paid to the city but the city manager disappeared soon after — and the funds disappeared at the same time. I know this because I was at school with the city manager's daughter. It was close to graduation but she didn't turn up for the ceremony and we never saw here again."

The injury that put him in a wheel chair was received at work, and not, he said, from an attack which he then described to us:

"The worst thing that ever happened to me was when I moved from downtown Newburgh, in the east end, to uptown, in the west end. My house got broke into and I got beat with a baseball bat. The gentleman told me I need to go back downtown with the rest of the blacks. And he didn't use the word blacks either."