Monday, March 31, 2014

My position explained

I've been wavering since I posted this yesterday about putting it out there since the content is more revealing than some might think wise- but then I decided- life is short, what the heck, why not, go for it, well- you get the general idea...

I'm not really a negative person. I'm more of a glass half full kind of gal (okay, I try to be)- but yes, I can be a hater- even as I strive to see the good in each and every one of of us.  No, sometimes the only emotion worth considering is a kind of active dislike. (and according to the NYTimes, spite is good for you!!) 

Well, you'll know it when you feel it. Go for it. Nothing's worse than someone whose afraid of their dark side. Just keeping it real.

And for those among us who have no time for anything less than lofty, you have my admiration. I think.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

A Bridal Shower (Bollywood Style)

A ride through pouring rain brought me to my friend Lonny's home in New Jersey and the scene of her daughter Anusha's bridal shower. Happiness, bindis and mehndied hands abounded. And for this Jewish girl from Westchester- a window in to another world.

Friday, March 28, 2014

When the Apple doesn't fall far from the Tree

I grew up in a house full of books. I didn't really understand what that meant until later, when through a friendship I would pay a visit, an overnight even, only to discover that my very delightful friend lived in a house where literary materials were in short supply, and there was no 1929 Britannica or the complete works of Trollope or Dickens laying around. I had parents who read daily, devoured the printed word, and as a result I am one of 5 offspring who are all readers as well. So when a book captivates me, I am done in. The whole day becomes a measured study of when will I get a chance to read my new favorite thing, the book which is holding me in its thrall?  And how do I stave off the finish, in which case I will no longer have the pleasure of the writer's voice in my head. In that moment I'll reflect on all the readers that have preceded me, savoring  the rapture of the written word.  For a solitary activity, it doesn't get much better than this.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

(My juice glass) Ode to Dior

Back when I lived on Gay Street, I had a beautiful photo studio on W. 25th Street with  sweeping views to the south of lower Manhattan (and a great coffee guy in the lobby). What a magical place to work, think and dream. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Visit from the Younger Crowd

Krista and her daughters stopped in for a visit and settling her two at the kitchen table reminded me of when my girls were little. In 1995 we moved in to this house and we've seen our share of small fry tearing hither and yon. The girls' presence was a visceral reminder of an earlier chapter spent caregiving and the effort, fun and nuttiness of the early years.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Stylists and Models

During my studio years creating the photographs for Hue Hosiery I often worked with the same crew. My favorite stylist was Sarah H. who had the drive to find the clothes and the shoes so that I could create the images that in turn graced Hue's packaging. I was seeking a kind of sublime perfection- where design, drape, fit and gesture were imbued with one thing and one thing only- to make you want to wear the product on display and take it home for your very own.

I think everyone enjoys work more when the atmosphere is upbeat and to mine some humor I started photographing the interactions of the stylist(s) and models.  I love the intimacy of the make ready and the patience required to be pinned and taped in to the clothes. So much effort goes in to making simplicity beautiful that it's good to share the underside of the myth. Helps to keep it real.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

An anecdote to share

Years back, a contact in publishing asked if I wanted to work on a project with Steve Schirripa who played Bobby Bacala on the Sopranos. He had written a funny book called "Goomba's Guide To Life"  for which they needed photos and I was happy to do it. The plan was to work in Little Italy where Steve was living at the time. Setting things in motion, the book's designer and I did a scout along Mullberry St. to find the best place to stage the images. 

When the day arrived, I met my assistant in Little Italy and together we found Steve. Unpacking the gear, my assistant volunteered to put my car in a garage. "Don't worry," one of the guys who surrounded Steve told me, "You won't get a ticket. We got you covered" (that was indeed a nice perk). Steve was great on camera and everyone involved couldn't have been more good natured and cooperative.  The book did so well it went to the top of the NYT's bestseller list. I even saw the book held up to network television cameras. Yeah!!

A few months later I heard from the book's editor that Steve wanted to buy the rights to my images because he was considering licensing himself for, among other items, housewares. (I remember mugs came up). I asked an agent acquaintance to deal with Steve's rep from William Morris on my behalf.  They were looking to purchase outright all the rights and unlimited use of the book's photos- not my dream negotiation. We couldn't agree on a price and the deal fell apart due to the small amount of money offered. Needless to say I did not work on any of his subsequent projects.

Flash forward, I was photographing a birthday party for Dominic Chiannese and Steve was there. While he didn't remember me, he remembered the book and when I asked if he would send me a signed copy of a Goomba's Guide... to commemorate our collaboration he said he would. We emailed a few times and he asked for my mailing address, but a signed book never arrived. 

Sometimes, the best part of a job is the work itself, and not what happens next. Just sayin'.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Grand Central Revealed

One of New York City's most vibrant destinations is Grand Central Terminal and today my husband and I had the privilege of attending a small group tour there given by University at Buffalo graduate Mark Nusbaum and organized by the UB Alumni Association. Mark Nusbaum, presently with FXFOWLE Architects. was the project architect on the amazing restoration of the Main Concourse and retail development, an effort that began in 1994 and took 7 years to complete. While working for the architecture firm, Beyer Blinder Belle, he oversaw all the development of the construction documents, including coordination of  engineering consultants, and then headed up the field team of architects and engineers for the Concourse restoration and revamping of the retail aspect.

He shared some great anecdotes and was a fount of information about the building, its history and its circuitous and complex restoration. I'm so glad we got to learn about this magnificent landmark through the lens of his involvement. The range of interesting and inspiring people who live and work among us never ceases to amaze me.

Friday, March 21, 2014

March 21st around here

With temperatures soaring up to 52 degrees, it's possible to leave your coat behind today when you need to go outside. Last night's rain washed away much of the remaining snow and if you study the ground close enough there are signs everywhere of Nature stirring back to life. We've been through our share of harsh weather this year and I for one, can't wait for spring.

From the Archive

When I started to create the images for Hue hosiery in the '80's, scenarios gathered in my head involving legs and feet. On location there are so many details to get right ( a bonus land for those anxiety-inclined) but I love when all the elements come together to bring a vision to life.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Start of Something New (and completely different)

A few months back a neighbor who is a trustee for our village called to ask if I would consider running in the upcoming election as a current trustee was stepping down. I had a lot of questions- including my overall anxiety at campaigning and giving promotional speeches about myself- not something I love to do. But he talked me through it, and reminded me that it was more than likely that I would run unopposed in our heavily Democratic village (meaning I would be required to make only a few appearances to meet and greet my fellow residents in the course of a campaign).

I discussed it with my husband and some good friends all of whom thought it was a great idea. My kids were shockingly okay when I mentioned it as a possibility. So, other than my own concerns over my political inexperience, there proved to be no real obstacles. As my fellow candidates are incumbents, I am the only new kid on the block, and in the end, the Republicans failed to put up any candidates. My "stumping" consisted of securing the nomination at our local Democratic caucus, answering some questions for one of our local papers and appearing at a q. and a. for local candidates at a neighborhood meeting.

Election day arrived today and after dropping our kids off at school I made my way to our local polls to vote. I've seen my name in print before but this foray represents a new way to contribute and use my talents and I'm looking forward to it.

Monday, March 17, 2014

The Real Kids Readers (and Me)

Father and son Walter Dean Myers and Christopher Myers each published a compelling essay in the New York Times yesterday regarding the absence of children of color in children's literature and the adverse impact created by this lack of representation. The harsh reality is in the numbers. (Of 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, just 93 were about people of color according to a study cited by the authors.) 

I was fortunate to be hired in the late '90's to work on a children's books project called  The Real Kids Readers, a series of 48 books for children (Levels 1, 2 and 3) illustrated with photographs. In my role as art director and photographer, I knew the casting had to be multi-cultural and contemporary. Working in NYC meant finding our subjects through a network of modeling agencies and friends. It was a delight to work with such a neat range of individuals. Most of the books are still in circulation and many have been translated in to Spanish. Yet I am the most proud of the diverse kids we found to tell these stories while promoting literacy, fostering role models, and providing entertainment to children and their caregivers everywhere.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

When cleaning means remembering

Turns out, years of spending significant time with a camera means that there are more images in my files than I can remember- yet there are some gems that make me stop to recall an afternoon or a trip or a friend from years past.
And shoes, sexy, airplane and subjects combined- eye candy for a shutterbug like me!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Being Conned (It can change you)

In reading the review for Walter Kirn's new book about his friendship with "Clark Rockefeller" I was taken back to when I was conned by a man named "Charles" whom I met when I lived in the West Village. One night back then, I attended an event for the photographer  Andre Kerterz. For a lengthy part of the evening Kerterz stood next to me and was very attentive. (Later I learned that Andre loved girls and always found one to stand next to at gatherings.) Charles told me that upon arriving with a friend in tow they decided to find the prettiest girls in the room and talk to them. So the next thing I knew it was Andre and two gentleman all smiling at me. 

Charles was an attorney who freelanced as a journalist. He often went out of town to cover politics for the Economist and then eventually left the country to work for them in Italy. One spring afternoon an assistant NYC district attorney called me, he was investigating Charles for fraud (because while he was appearing in court as a  lawyer, he had never gone to law school or taken the bar.) When I told him that Charles was actually in Italy, the d.a. informed me that to the best of his knowledge, Charles had never left town. I was devastated that my boyfriend had been lying to me (and everyone else) about virtually everything. (Charles even staged return trips to NY to see me. To add insult to injury- when I called the Economist, they had never heard of him.) Getting dressed to go meet friends for dinner, I called Charles' home phone and he answered. My heart sank. Everything awful was true.

The next day he agreed to meet me in a nearby park. "Why did you lie to me?" I asked. He gave me an icy look and walked away. I never spoke to him again.

Years later, in the baggage claim at La Guardia, I spotted him at a nearby carousel, awaiting his bags. I did not meet his eyes- although I knew immediately that it was him. Leaving the terminal, I realized that this person who once meant so much to me, now meant nothing. 

And for any of you trusting folks who have had the misfortune of knowing a psychopath better than is recommended, consider yourself lucky when they leave your life- hopefully forever.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

My Anxiety over "My Age of Anxiety"

I am in awe of Scott Stossel's book on anxiety and find his research, personal narrative and insight brilliant. I too have experienced my share of anxiety and so his writing has been revelatory for me. I don't typically seek anxiety producing situations, but one black hole for me can be a library book that is overdue. Every minute that it sits in my house past it's due date I feel an odd pressure until a larger worry surfaces due to my inertia. (Along with racking up fines- which is its own kind of wanton excess at .25 per day- but I digress.) Sometimes a purchase is the way to go in the end. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

A New Subject for Mom

Our daughter Nora needed a ride on Saturday to Simsbury, Ct. to connect with a classmate and get a ride back to Burlington, Vermont. After we left her, we stopped for gas, and James noticed an automatic carwash on the property. The balmy temperatures inspired a lot of our fellow drivers which meant a lengthy wait in line for service. We passed the time listening to NPR and checking out the other cars. Another item off the to-do list.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

From the Archive (for J.C.)

My friend Joyce recently posted on Facebook an image of her cute self from her elementary school days, and it sent me on a treasure hunt to find a portrait I took of her in the 80's. Sometimes, the fact that I managed to archive so much of my work gives me hope that I am better organized than I often imagine myself to be. As I searched, memories surfaced of moments experienced with a camera and the many special people I've had the chance to study through my lens.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Heaven-Sent Performance

I photographed a wonderful event Sunday for the Westchester Library System, which featured spoken word with the author and musician James McBride, as well as performances by McBride and his quintet, The Good Lord Bird Gospel Band. The author read from his recent novel  The Good Lord Bird, winner of the 2013 National Book Award for Fiction. 

McBride created a riveting atmosphere of narrative, history, and detail and the quintet played spirituals with a captivating mix of soul, rock, country and jazz. I was thrilled to have the chance to observe them through my camera.

(The musicians included Keith Robinson on guitar, Trevor Exter on bass, Show Tyme Brooks on  drums, Adam Faulk on piano, McBride on saxophone and the whole band on vocals. Great!!)

Sunday, March 2, 2014

I can't wait for Spring

For those of us who reside on the east coast, it's been a long winter. Emphasis on the long. So, in the spirit of hoping for what has yet to arrive, with the knowledge that the globe is constantly turning and ultimately, that winter will progress in to spring,  I share an image that harkens to warmer temperatures, sunshine and flowers even as we await another 6-12 inches of the fluffy white stuff on Monday. (and not on a weekend day, but another school day, meaning yet another snow day....!)