I am pleased to introduce a new online series called the Power of Photography, highlighting hope, peace, and love in the world. With every entry, I'll share personal reflections on my favorite images. I invite you to enjoy and reflect on these works during this time.
Peace & Love,
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY CXXIIWind Costume (Rain Girl), c. 1875
“Is it love or fancy,
I cannot tell you. All that I know is,
She, with her innocent charm has entranced me.
Almost transparently fragile and slender,
Dainty in stature, quaint little figure,
Seems to have stepped down straight from a screen.”
~ Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, Madame Butterfly. 1904.
During the 1870’s, the Austrian born Baron Von Stillfried was one of the leading foreign photographers in Yokohama, a primary port for trade and tourism.
This is an interesting studio composition where the scratches in the negative simulate rain and the impression of wind is created by means of the geisha’s kimono being pinned against the studio backdrop.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY CXXIBK0059, 2014
"Seasons come and go, people fall in love, kids play. Many different layers overlap; the visible, the invisible, what we think we should see, what we know, what we feel with our five senses and sometimes our sixth in this layered world. I started to feel pain and sorrow more vividly but also beauty and happiness.”
~ Miho Kajioka
What is so wonderful about my professional life is that sometimes, albeit not too often, one comes across a new photographer whose works stands out as something so truly fresh and original that one feels the desire and wish to work with them. Such was the case with Miho, a young Japanese photographer from Kyoto, whose images I was really drawn to.
Her work embodies the Japanese concept of “wabi-sabi," the appreciation of beauty in imperfection and transience and the Zen/Taoist belief that the essence (true nature) of an object exists in the empty space inside and around it.
Her hand-crafted prints are like little gems that one can hold in one's hands and be transported.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY CXXOscar Wilde, No. 16, 1882
“A picturesque subject indeed!”
~ Napoleon Sarony on meeting Oscar Wilde
“To love oneself is the beginning of a life long romance.”
~ Oscar Wilde
Portraits have always been one of my favorite genres in photography. I think I always learn something from them especially when the subject is someone of immense talent and accomplishment. The hope is, of course, that some of this might also rub off on the viewer.
Sarony was one of the most celebrated late 19th Century portrait photographers especially renowned for his portraits of stars of the American Theatre. Anyone of note turned up at his studio at 37 Union Square.
Oscar Wilde one of the great playwrights and poets was an icon in his own right. He lived a flamboyant, tempestuous life. He toured the United Sates to enormous critical success, but died destitute in Paris aged 46.
He wrote one of my favorite sentences of all time in his last days at L'hotel in Paris, the remembrance of which has been a source of laughter in these dark days.
“This wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. Either it goes or I do."
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY CXIXThe Western Wall, a Friday, c. 1880s
“Jerusalem is a port city on the shore of eternity.”
~ Yehuda Amichai
To stand on the summit of the Mount of Olives as I first did so many years ago seeing this ancient city stretched out before you is one of the most inspiring views in the world. One takes in three millennia of history, beauty and pain. It is the soul of humanity. Spiritual home to three major religions, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Felix Bonfils is considered one of the most important figures in the development of photography in the Middle East.
May this city’s magical light spread it’s glow for world peace in these troubled times and the new hopefully enlightened era to come.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY CXVIIINatchez, Mississippi, U.S.A., 1947
"Think about the photo before and after, never during. The secret is to take your time. You mustn’t go too fast. The subject must forget about you. Then however, you must be very quick.”
~ Henri Cartier-Bresson
Henri Cartier-Bresson operated on a level of intelligence and insight more than any other photographer I have ever met. He was just on another plain, analytical but so human at the same time. I have always thought the work he did in the USA from the end of the 1930’s to the end of the 1960’s produced some of the greatest least seen images of his career none more so than this heartfelt piece taken on the fly in Mississippi.
He was not particularly interested in landscape per se preferring to observe the human condition, the everyday moments of human interaction that reveal everything, the body language, the gesture.
But his was not a cold, cultural distancing stance. He brought everything he was as a well educated, sophisticated European to try and understand the power and beauty and the hope and despair that is part of this multi-layered complex country. Issues we are all still wrestling with now, so many years later.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY CXVIIPaul Robeson, c. 1920's
"A face that has the marks of having lived intensely, that expresses some phase of life, some dominant quality or intellectual power, constitutes for me an interesting face. For this reason the face of an older person, perhaps not beautiful in the strictest sense is usually more appealing than the face of a younger person who has scarcely been touched by life.”
~ Doris Ulmann
One of the most beautiful fine art books ever produced in the history of photography is from photos captured by the great Doris Ulmann. She is most famous for her documentation of the Rural South but was also celebrated for her great portraits of prominent intellectuals, artists and writers.
Paul Robeson was one of the great renaissance icons of the last century. An all American professional athlete, writer, multi lingual orator(he spoke 15 languages), lawyer and basso profound concert singer and actor who was also noted for his wide ranging social justice activism.
As he once said, “As an artist I come to sing, but as a citizen, I will always speak for peace and no one can silence me in this.”
Another perfect pairing of artist and subject. When I saw this rare, exquisite platinum print I had to stretch for it for I knew I wouldn’t see it again.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY CXVIJiver, Kensal Road, 1957
"I remember my excitement when I turned a corner into Southam Street. A street I have returned to again and again. I think an artist must work intuitively and let his or her attitudes be reflected by the kinds of things he or she likes or finds pictorial. Attitudes will be reflected because an artist is a kind of person who is deeply interested in people and the forces that work in our society. This implies a humanist art, but not necessarily an interest in politics.”
~ Roger Mayne
I went to spend a day with Roger Mayne in Lyme Regis many years ago because I just loved his photos, especially his ones of children. Of course I related to them being a bit of a ragamuffin myself growing up on the streets of London in that post war 50’s era where everything was in transition.
There seemed to be a spontaneity about street life...I found his images unsentimental and engaged and full of heart.
We had a great day together and before I was due to return on the train back to London I asked Roger if we could go and visit “The Cob” area where one of my favorite novels and films “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” had taken place. We started to walk around the harbor when the most amazing rain storm just happened out of the blue and we were both drenched. Well that is England for you but it still was a most special day regardless.
Great memories which flow back to me whenever I look at his wonderful photographs.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY CXVAlbert Schweitzer, 1949
"Negatives are the notebooks, the jottings, the false starts, the whims, the poor drafts and the good draft but never the competed version of the work…….
The print and a proper one is the only completed photograph whether it is specifically shaded for reproduction or for a museum wall.”
~ W. Eugene Smith
W. Eugene Smith, by all the accounts I have read and knowing people who new him, was one of the most intense, driven, fanatical, impossible, genius photographers of all time. His work has always been a touchstone for me and I sought the great prints out wherever I could.
This image is one of them. Dr Albert Schweitzer, the Noble Peace Prize winner, was as equally passionate and driven in his life. A highly skilled medical doctor, a well practiced and revered musician, he seemingly did the impossible as a pastor and founder of a hospital complex in Lambarene in French Equitorial Africa to help the poor and disenfranchised. I knew quite well a celebrated English actress who when she was younger had voluntered to help him for a year having been moved by his selflessness. The stories she told about him have never left me...His deeds and words resonate now especially - “The purpose of human life is to serve and to show compassion and the will to help others.”
This image is part of Gene Smith’s last great photo essay for Life Magazine and one of his greatest prints I have ever seen. The perfect combination of subject matter and artist resulting in a vision of human humility and purpose.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY CXIVIdeal Laundry, New York, 1950
"Photographers are crazy, not in a bad sense. I’m not saying that they’re not likable. It’s just that the kind of person who accepts the lifestyle of a freelance photographer has to be a little (or a lot) different than the rest of society. Somebody who can accept the fact that he doesn’t know today what his next job is going to be or when he’s going to get his check, how he’s going to pay his bills, how he’s going to support a family and yet get to enjoy it with all the hassles, with all the anxieties. And we had plenty of them! But somehow we believed in the possible, we believed in hope.”
~ Arthur Leipzig
Arthur was exactly like his photographs are - gentle, kind, intelligent, sensitive, and insightful. A very humble man despite his incredible achievements. He captured an era of struggle and hardship, but never once failed to show the humanity in the streets he shot. He was inspiring to be around and I know as a teacher he must have inspired the next generation of street photographers.
He was quietly one of the most unforgettable photographers I have met. This simple but deeply felt image has always been one of my favorites.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY CXIIIAdvertising photograph for Eastman Kodak Company, c. 1900
“Amateur Photography has the great advantage that its followers are confined to no age, sex, or conditions of servitude.
The question of sex especially is becoming a past issue.
It never should have been raised at all.”
~ Catherine Weed Ward
American Amateur Photographer, 1893.
Myra Wiggins was a pioneer photographer who established herself as a much respected turn of the century artist.
Apparently she was a 5’1’’ dynamo, full of energy and determination, who garnered the attention of the great photographer and impresario of the arts, Alfred Stieglitz, who invited her to be part of his Photo Secession movement.
Her skill at lighting and composition was also noted by the burgeoning Eastman Kodak Company with whom she collaborated in a series of special advertisements for their new products. Which were beautiful tender artistic images in themselves.
“The subtle charm of art, the invigorating influence of active recreation, the joys of delving in the mysteries of chemistry and unveiling it’s photographic secrets. All or any of these are in store for the KODAKER. In them is the WITCHERY OF KODAKERY.”
Eastman Kodak advertisement
Ladies Home Journal. 1900.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY CXIIFoggy Night, Land's End, San Francisco, CA, 1953
"Photography is not a profession. It is a compulsion.”
~ Fred Lyon
It’s not often I see a single image that drives me to seek out and meet the creator behind it. But such was the case with this extraordinary image. It immediately struck me as one of the most romantic, tender, mysterious almost "film noir“ images I had ever seen. Brassai eat your heart out.
How come I had never heard of its maker? Then I remembered a good photo publishing colleague had mentioned his name to me a few years back. I must have been rushing from one art fair to another and I had never followed up. Shame on me. I guess things sometimes slip through the cracks. But I believe in fate and that when things are meant to be they are meant to be.
Well off finally I went to San Francisco to meet with Fred in his studio and wow I realized I had just entered Aladdin’s Cave. I think Fred was just a spring chicken of 85 years old at the time but his enthusiasm and energy were contagious. Not to mention the intelligence and wit and charm. Wow I thought he was Cary Grant with a camera!
But it was the quality of the work that bowled me over. Great image after great image evoking a lost era of style and sophistication and heart and beauty that is unlikely to come back. And that special San Francisco light. No one has such an archive of superb work inspired by this unique city.
Fred is not just a humble, truly great and important photographer but a very special one-of-a-kind, gracious human being. A rare breed.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY CXIBackstage at the Folies Bergeres, 1960
Jean Philippe is one of the great least known French classic photographers who came to prominence in the 1950’s. He travelled the world as a skilled photo journalist working for magazines like “Realities.”
Settling back in Paris, he created a great body of work capturing the city he loved. This image of life backstage at the celebrated Folies Bergere could only have been taken by a Frenchman. It is the essence of nonchalance.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY CXEileen Dunne in the Hospital for Sick Children, 1940
A young child injured during a bombing raid in war-torn London.
This is one of Cecil Beaton’s great images which made the cover of Life Magazine and helped bring America to aid the European war efforts.
The power of photography for sure.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY CIXMarian Anderson, c. 1950's
Marian Anderson was an American singer of classical music and spirituals. She was invited to sing to an integrated audience in Washington DC. The Daughters of The American Revolution refused their permission as they controlled the hall. Eleanor Roosevelt, a member of DAR, immediately resigned and together with her husband Franklin D. Roosevelt arranged for her to sing at an open air concert on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial before an integrated audience of more than 75,000 peopled and a radio audience in the millions on April 9th, 1939.
An early seminal Civil Rights moment, a precursor to Dr King’s “I have a Dream Speech” twenty four years later.
I have seen several photos taken of Marian Anderson by celebrated photographers such as Karsh and Philipe Halsman but none as powerful as this one by Alfredo Valente, a much underrated New York portrait photographer.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY CVIIICentral Park South, 1947-48
I remember vividly my first trip to New York from London. I was a young student and had struggled to get the air fare together. I got on a bus from the airport and as we approached the city at night with that amazing skyline I thought I had died and gone to heaven.
I immediately heard Gershwin in my head.
I was just so excited to be there.
This is one of my most favorite NY images. Croner was a student of the Alexey Brodovitch Design Laboratory whose students over the years ran the gamut from Richard Avedon to Diane Arbus.
Croner was experimenting off the cuff that night on Central Park South and produced something truely innovative. Whenever I look at this image it always evokes that first encounter with that energizing city.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY CVIILe Pont de Brooklyn, New York, 1982
I love images of hope, especially now.
One knows this young woman will succeed in anything she sets her mind to, swept up by the energy and spirit of what Steiglitz himself called one of his own great photos, “The City of Ambition.”
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY CVIThe Violinist, c. 1910
John G Bullock was a widely exhibited Pictorialist photographer in all leading salons at the turn of the century. He caught the eye of Alfred Steiglitz who included him in the Photo Secession’s inaugural exhibition of 1902 at National Arts Club in New York. His work is included in J. Paul Getty Museum, Metropolitan Museum and the Smithsonian Museu.
This print is incredibly atmospheric and tender and inspiring. I have always thought of it like a great Mary Cassatt painting. The light streaming on her white dress and her focus. If it had been shot indoors it just wouldn’t have the same beautiful atmosphere and power.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY CVWartime Terminus, Paddington Station (Women Waving), 1942
I love train stations and would much prefer to travel on them than any other form of transportation.
They are great places also to view hellos and goodbyes.
Here a mother is seeing her child off for safe evacuation to the English countryside from the perils of wartime London.
So heartbreaking, but hopeful at the same time for a better future.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY CIVBacklit Sunflower, Winthrop, MA, 1965
When you are in Paul’s presence you know you are in the presence of a special human being who exudes wisdom and insight. He is articulate and profound, but never pretentious. I see him as a kind of shaman, an elder who is a spiritual guide who has taught me much over all these years without ever pretending to be a teacher. I think his images work on a special plain of enlightenment.
This is one of his great photographs. How can something so simple radiate so much power and beauty?
As he tells the story, “A sunflower came as a gift from a friend and quietly took it’s place on my windowsill. It seemed content, as nature’s marvels usually are, with whatever notice it might receive. But as I passed it several times a day and glanced each time toward its radiance, the flower began to grow less shy. It seemed to ask, if not demand, that I draw nearer and record its moods on film. Finally I gave in and took the first step toward another world. As I dwelt upon the beauty of the sunflower, on its golden crown and everchanging form, it began to whisper of a realm beyond the sensual mind, a realm magnificent and strange."
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY CIIIMúsico en la Nada [Musician in Nowhere], Escoma, Bolivia, 1990
Flor is one of my oldest photography friends. We were her first gallery and our careers have paralleled each other. Whenever we are together memories flood back for both of us. We laugh and sometimes cry and reminisce. And reflect on the passage of time and all we have been through, together and apart.
Her great photographs are timeless and heartbreaking. None more so than this image, one of my favorites of hers. The subject is an itinerant Bolivian musician who travels through the country, playing at weddings and funerals and village events accompanied by all his worldly possessions. It has one on the most beautiful titles I have ever encountered.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY CIIMarx Brothers, 1946
I grew up loving the Marx Brothers’ movies and whenever I need a pick-me-up I watch, “A Night at the Opera,” perhaps the funniest film ever made. As you dear friends can imagine we have all needed a lot of pick-me-ups recently...
To my amazement a few years ago I came across this rare portrait of them by none other than one of my favorite portrait photographers, Yousuf Karsh. These genius comedians must have given Karsh, best known for his more serious studies of all the great statesmen, dignitaries and artists of the 20th Century, one of his most special sittings. Oh to have been a fly on the wall at this one.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY CINelson Mandela in his Cell on Robben Island [Revisit], 1994, printed 2014
This is one of the great images of history. It tells us so much of the human injustice of apartheid in a single frame.
It has always moved me since the first time I saw it. I suggested to Jürgen that we should produce a special platinum print of it as I felt the process would bring out even more details of the human drama of the moment..
I find it tender and heartbreaking at the same time. It captures the soul of this special man whose words resonate with even more relevance today.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
~ Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY CThe Heiress, Carthay Circle, Los Angeles, CA, 1949 (Printed 1970's)
Today is a special day. This is our 100th ‘Power of Photography” daily image. I cannot believe this number. How did this happen? This started out as a little self therapy over 100 days ago helping me get through the extraordinary times we are living in. Revisiting these images I had feverishly collected over 41 years brought back such great memories of how they had been acquired and the circumstances and the people involved. I thought I would do just a few and to my surprise the series developed its own momentum. Clients and friends forwarded them on to their families and friends and each day my colleagues Mike and David and I received heartfelt messages from all over the world from strangers telling us how these images have helped them navigate these surreal times and that they have given them hope for a brighter future which has been truly humbling.
I thought it would be appropriate today to feature the first photograph I ever bought all those years ago when I first arrived in California in 1979 to pursue my film making aspirations from London. Of course the image had a special autobiographical resonance for me as I had grown up obsessed with World Cinema. I struggled to find the $400 to pay for it and if I were sane I would have spent the money putting new brakes on the beat up Ford Pinto I was driving. But I guess fate had another career in mind for me and this single image you could say changed the direction of my life. I subsequently got to meet Max Yavno who was equally inspiring. Thank you Max.
I will try my best to continue this series and hope to present to you equally beautiful and soulful images. I appreciate all your support and encouraging words. Here’s to the next 100 days together. Be well, be safe.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XCIXLou Reed, "Transformer", 1972
I grew up loving and listening to all kinds of music from Bach to Puccini to Reggae to Jazz. I have always been energized by it and sometimes a single piece of music can encapsulate an era in which you lived. I certainly never lived in New York during the 1960’s and 1970’s as I was growing up in London, but through Lou Reed I can certainly imagine what it might have been like.
Likewise a single image can evoke the same feeling. I was offered this print signed by both the photographer and the subject and had to have it to help me understand that era. One must never stop learning about things you know nothing about and this image helped me undertake that process.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XCVIIIWhite Sands, 1980
Bernard is one of the restless travelers of photography. Always on the road in the pursuit of adventure and beauty.
I was listening to the Beatles “Long and Winding Road” last night and this image sprang into my mind. We are all on a journey right now and none of us quite know where it is all leading but ever hopeful.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XCVIIElbowing Out of Town, News Stand, New York, 1954
Louis, in his 93 years, lived life to the fullest right until the end. He was for sure a Brooklyn boy, a true original character. To be in his presence was always amusing, engaging and insightful. This is one of my favorite images of his. I just devour newspapers and magazines but fear they will soon be a thing of the past, especially newsstands. So many of them have closed here in the last year.
I just love the optimism emanating from this image. You know this young woman is going to have a great day. She is so focused and determined. Whether she is going on an audition or job interview, she is going to nail it for sure.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XCVILovers Reflected In Mirror, 1932 (Printed 1960's)
Brassaï moved to Paris in 1924 and never left. He and that city just connected on a profound level and he made it his own even though he was technically an “outsider."
His objectivity and intelligence captured the nuances of the city from its streets to its cafes, its parks and monuments by day and night, and also its hidden secrets that no one had ever truly captured in such an insightful way before. More than anything, he understood human nature and the human psyche without judgement.
This is one of the great images from his celebrated book, “The Secret Paris of the 30’s” and this print was formerly in the collection of one of the greatest 20th Century art dealers, Ileana Sonnabend, so we know the physical print is special.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XCVA Country Road, 1915
Paul L Anderson was a much exhibited Pictorialist photographer. He taught at the Clarence White School of Photography and was a friend of Edward Weston with whom he debated vociferously the merits of Pictorialism after Weston himself had abandoned it. His work is included in MOMA NY, the George Eastman House, Cleveland Museum of Art and other institutions.
I saw this image and was immediately seduced by the beauty of the print and the emotion contained with in it. To me the solitary figure had just jumped out from the pages of an Edith Wharton novel. What was her story? Where was she going? What were her innermost thoughts? What was her destiny?
It still holds me in its grip after over 20 years. A true sign of its greatness. I believe it to be a unique print.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XCIVAshaninka, State of Acre, Brazil, 2016
My longest and most intense professional collaboration has been with Sebastiao Salgado. We first started working together,well it must be over 30 years now since Henri Cartier-Bresson and his wife Martine Franck first introduced us.
It has been an amazing journey as I have watched him develop his epic photo projects with such passion and dedication and execute them to the highest professional and ethical standards. This journey has been shared with his equally amazing wife and artistic partner, Lelia Wanick. I have never seen two people so professionally in sync and they have been such an inspiration to me and continue to be a big, big part of my life.
I sincerely believe Sebastiao is the greatest living photographer and his position in the history of this medium is unassailable. With the founding of their remarkable non-profit rainforest project Instituto Terra and the planting of 4 million trees to date to say they are both forces of nature is a vast understatement.
I am looking forward to the launch of their next and last epic project “Amazonia” next year. This beautiful and haunting image above is part of it.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XCIIIOn the Caterpillar, Women's Pub Outing, Clapham, England, 1956
Whenever I need a pick me up I look at this hilarious photograph. It was taken by my friend, Grace Robertson. who turns 90 years old today.
Grace was one of the pioneer women photojournalists who worked for “Picture Post,” the UK equivalent of Life Magazine. Her most beloved story was “Mother’s Day Outing” originally published by Picture Post and two years later re-commissioned by Life Magazine which follows a group of working class women who were friends from a local pub. They leave their men behind, hire a bus to transport them for a day trip to the Coast or as we say in England the “seaside," fill the bus up with beer and food and just escape from everything. As the day progresses they become more and more tipsy and more and more uninhibited as only women in the company of women can do...Free from all their domestic responsibilities.
As Grace says of the day, “I set off on the Saturday with the women in the coach. Their energy was awesome. These women were survivors. These were women in their fifties, sixties and seventies and they had been through two world wars and the Great Depression in the middle. They were incredibly exuberant. And inspiring."
Happy birthday Grace and thank you for this gift which keeps on giving.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XCIIOn the 6:25 from Grand Central to Stamford, November 22, 1963 (Printed 1987)
Carl Mydans was one of the great LIFE Photographers having cut his teeth working for the Farm Security Administration in the 1930’s, along with his distinguished colleagues Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, Ben Shan, Marion Post Wolcott, and Walker Evans.
This is real evidence of the Power of Photography - how one shot of commuters pouring over newspapers reading the story of President Kennedy’s assasination captures the emotional intensity of this moment in world history.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XCISuspense, c. 1908
Emily Pitchford was a pioneer San Francisco Pictorialist. I came across this beautiful image in an obscure country auction where it was very reasonably estimated, but obviously I was not alone in appreciating its merits. I got caught up in the auction fever and ending up paying about 20x more for it than I expected.
But I do not regret it. It is like a great Degas painting out of a novel by the Bronte sisters. Beauty and mystery combined.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XCJayne Mansfield and Sophia Loren at Romanoff's, Beverly Hills, 1958
Mike Romanoff was the restauranteur to the stars in the 1940’s. His namesake restaurant always attracted a great crowd.
He knew that both Sophia Loren and Jayne Mansfield had both booked separate tables. He had a sixth sense that something interesting might happen and alerted the media. Boy was he right! Joe Shere and other celebrated Hollywood photographers turned up but I think Mr Shere got the Oscar that day for best shot.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXXXIXSwimming Pool Designed by Alain Capeilleres, Le Brusc, Var, France, 1976
Well Summer is here and hopefully some respite from the current challenges.
I’m often asked, "What makes a great photograph?" Sometimes it’s hard to articulate but this Martine Franck image certainly is the answer that comes to mind, as something that “haunts” you.
I’m not sure why this image has always haunted me since the first time I saw it, but I never get tired of looking at it. It has what so many great photos have - “MYSTERY." I’m not quite sure what is going on or the relationship between the figures, but it doesn’t matter. It is beautiful with it’s use of shapes and shadow and that most important element - LIGHT.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXXXVIIIMiss Appleton's Shoes, 1976 / Printed 1978
This little gem of a photograph has always haunted me since I first saw a print of it in the late 1970’s. It just radiates an enormous sense of beauty and energy which transcends its apparent simple subject matter. It tells stories within stories and has a deep, deep humanity to it.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXXXVIIScanno Boy, 1957-1959
One of my greatest regrets was I did not not meet Giacomelli in person. I was totally obsessed with his work and wanted to see if it would be possible to collaborate with him. His reputation was that he was totally uninterested in any kind of material success. He just wanted to be left alone to create his images without any distractions - a position I respected, but my love for his work would never leave me so I prevailed. A photographer friend knew him well and he agreed to finally meet with me. I was to fly to Italy. Everything was arranged and the three of us were to meet up in his home. A dream come true. Sadly he became ill a couple of weeks before I was due to leave and passed away shortly thereafter.
Giacomelli was born into a very modest family and when his father died when he was 13 years old he had to leave school and went to work as a typographer to help support the family. He spent most of his life working at his job spending his weekends and holidays pursuing his own art.
The structure of this image is pure genius. He creates a unique atmosphere like I had never seen before from which dark and out-of-focus figures emerge with only one single and central subject that is sharp: a boy in the middle distance who looks into the camera, framed by fleeting black hallowed foreground figures and strolling with his hands in his pockets, followed by two identically dressed old women.
The image is haunting and I guess I have always identified with the little boy and always will. Next year The Getty Museum is planning a big Giacomelli exhibition. Something definitely to look forward to.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXXXVINorth Carolina, 1950
The Power of Photography is such that words are often unnecessary. The image says it all. I have always felt this way about this great Elliott Erwitt image, never more so than now.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXXXVAndy Warhol with Edie Sedgwick and Chuck Wein, New York, 1965
Burt Glinn was one of the most sophisticated and intelligent photographers I have ever met. A man of gentle humor and generosity of spirit and great insight and sensitivity to the human condition. One of the great Magnum photographers who also served as its President on two occasions.
I have always loved this image of Warhol and Sedgwick and Chuck Wein (one of Warhol’s Factory assistants) seemingly climbing out of a man hole. I don’t think anyone could pull off a similar shot today in the boisterous Manhattan traffic chaos.
It always puts a smile on my face, especially now.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXXXIVChild at Civil Rights Protest, North Carolina, 1961
On this special day, this deeply felt image by the great Declan Haun gives us reason to pause and reflect on the present, the past and the future.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXXXIIIYoung Chaoui Woman, Biskra, Algeria, 1890-95
This was one of the hardest prints to buy in my career. I became obsessed with it when I saw it by accident visiting a dealer’s home. She just didn’t want to sell it and I just kept offering more ridiculous sums of money for it and after five years she allowed me to buy it. Such is the madness of collectors.
The woman is a young bride and I just wanted to know her story and still do.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXXXIIUntitled (Girl in Window), c. 1870
I love rich albumen 19th Century prints that I have never seen before and probably will never see again. And I love images shot from behind which have such a sense of mystery. I like to be seduced into the narrative of an image whose meaning I cannot quite really grasp. Such is this beautiful image taken by an underrated master Italian photographer. I keep going back and back again to view it since I first purchased it maybe 15 years ago... What is exactly going on? As a romantic I think this is a secret assignation between two lovers. Maybe even passing passionate letters through the slit in the window. It doesn’t matter if I am right or wrong. I just know it intrigues and moves me. That is the gift this photo has always given me.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXXXIKobe Bryant (holding basket ball), San Francisco, 2015
I love sports imagery and I love portraits and this image has it all. Taken by the great photographer, Walter Iooss Jr., who has dedicated his life to capturing the greatest images of so many sports occasions it is more than just a portrait of a great athlete.
Taken on the occasion of Kobe’s retirement, it has the power and pathos appropriate to the occasion. As Michael Jordan said of Walter, “He’s quick and he is good." I think here he is slow and really great and as quiet and self reflective as his subject is. A special moment, a special image.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXXXSolitude, c. 1890
Robert Demachy was one of the great turn-of-the-century Pictorialist photographers. In their effort to gain appreciation of photography as a fine art, as opposed to mere documentation, they were deeply knowledgable about painting techniques and carefully planned their images with acute attention to light and created hand-crafted prints with meticulous attention.
I have always wanted to own a great Degas, but do not have a spare $50 million. Perhaps this beautiful image is just as good, if not better.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXXIXColette, Paris, 1953
I love portraits, especially of writers, and this is one of the best of the formidable and courageous, Colette.
Janine led a pretty extraordinary life herself from risking her life developing film for the French Resistance to participating in the Liberation of Paris to covering the woman’s liberation movement in the 1970s. I remember an especially stimulating lunch in a simple Paris bistro hearing all the stories of her remarkable life.
What an honor to have met her.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXXVIII"For You," Harvard Square Theater, 1974
May 9, 1974 was a special night in the career of Bruce Springsteen. He was booked as an opening act for Bonnie Raitt at the Harvard Square Theater. His career had been struggling with two unsuccessful initial albums sales-wise for Columbia Records who were about to drop him, but his special magic was sure on full force that night and in the audience was the Rolling Stone music critic, Jon Landau, who penned the immortal lines which turned everything around. "I saw rock and roll future and it’s name is Bruce Springsteen.”
This is one of my all-time favorite music images, but it is so much more than that. It is an image of passion, dedication, determination and focus. All essential elements for any artist.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXXVIIOlga, Vaganova School, St. Petersburg, Russia, 2001
It is amazing to me that a whole culture AND a personal story can be told in one frame.
Arthur Elgort, most celebrated for his fashion work, loves dance and has a curiosity for other cultures as this image shows.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXXVIMarch on Washington, 1963
I first saw this image many years ago in a magazine and it punched me in the gut which is always the sign of a great photograph. I did not know the photographer but after several days I found him. Meeting Builder, I gave him a big hug and thanked him for creating such a moving photograph. It moves me to this day. Builder is one special man, totally devoid of ego and a commitment to his craft. He has used his camera to address the systems of oppression and injustice in the USA.
Here, in his own words, is how this photograph came to be:
“I was near the Lincoln Memorial. I tried listening to the speeches and songs. King would speak near the very end. Shortly before King delivered his speech, Mahalia Jackson began singing. I noticed a contingent from the South (where the current frontlines of the freedom struggle were. I think it was a NAAACP group from Atlanta, Georgia.) Within the group, a young black woman wearing a dark kerchief on her head caught my eye. She was in the brilliant, bright, hot summer sunlight, standing out from but still within and a part of the crowd. I moved closer, composed and focused razor sharp on the woman. Her face/gaze reflected for me the intensity of the long and continuing struggle from the arrival of the first Africans sold into bondage in Jamestown in 1619, to Harriet Tubman, John Brown and Frederick Douglas, Denmark Vesey, Nat Turner, Abraham Lincoln, Sojourner Truth, Richard Wright, Paul Robeson, the Scottsboro Boys, Rosa Parks, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott, Martin Luther King, the student sit-ins in Greensboro, John Lewis, Medgar Evers. Her clasped hands seemed to offer an expression of hope.”
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXXVOn the Hillside, A Study in Values, 1910
Heinrich Kuhn was one of the great turn of the century pictorialist photographers, colleague and close friend of Alfred Steiglitz and Edward Steichen.
I first came across his work early on as a collector. An image of his was the second photograph I had ever purchased. Alas I had to sell it to start my gallery and the memory of it still haunts me.
But the story of how I acquired this print perhaps should serve as a warning lesson as to how compulsive this disease of collecting can be.
I first saw it maybe 20 years ago and thought then as I still do now that it was one of the most beautiful images, “object”, works of art I had ever seen. Up there with greatest painting that Degas had ever painted. I was just swept away by the romanticism and beauty of it and it haunted me which I guess is the true test of why one should collect anything. The owner did not want to sell it unless it fetched an incredibly large amount of money, a sum way beyond my reach. It got passed from one dealer to another over a period of 10 years, each time the price got higher and higher each time it did not sell. I guess it became a 10 year journey of obsession way beyond any rational behavior.
And then one day I saw it again at an art fair in New York in the booth of the fifth dealer who had been engaged by the irascible owner to sell it for him. Perhaps I had drunk too much coffee that day, but I just broke down and bought it. I don’t regret it even though I thought at the time I should check my self into a mental home. The words that echoed in my ears were the ones I had been told by a very wise Old Master Painting dealer early on when I embarked on my career.
He told me “Peter, you never over pay for a Masterpiece." He was right.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXXIVHats, Father's Day Picnic, 1948
One of my favorite photojournalist images ever.
It is Father’s Day and some kind souls put on a special picnic for out of work men who are homeless but have still maintained their dignity. And their hats. They are picked up and driven in a bus to a park where for a few hours they can forget their situation.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXXIIIElla Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, & Benny Goodman, New York, 1948
This great Herman Leonard image has so much personal resonance for me. I grew up listening to Ella singing all the great American Songbook albums. They were my holy grail. In the 1960’s the great American Jazz promoter, Norman Granz used to bring over all the great jazz musicians to London in his celebrated “Jazz at The Philharmonic“ series. As a skinny kid I used to slip backstage and collect jazz autographs. There was basically no security in those days. I met them all, including my beloved Ella.
Herman was such a classy gentleman. And a really great photographer. He had learnt a lot of his craft as an assistant to the great Yousuf Karsh. This has always been my favorite Ella image with the added bonus of Duke Ellington and Benny Goodman sitting in the audience revering Ella. If you look closely also in the audience. You can see an almost Bill Clinton look alike. One of my great clients was visiting me and she saw it and pointed this out to me. She was a great friend of President Clinton and bought it as a surprise birthday gift for him where it hung in the White House for many years.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXXIISummer, 1935
Many years ago I was visiting a wonderful collector and curator in Chicago. It was one of those blistering hot Mid-West days. As I was sipping some iced tea, I noticed out of the corner of my eye this exquisite image hanging on a wall. I just had to get up to examine it more closely.
Josef Ehm was an important Czech photographer, a colleague of other great Czech photographers like Sudek and Funke. I was totally consumed by the mood that this image evoked within me. My host noticing how I was smitten graciously allowed me to purchase the object of my affection. Ehm’s archive resides in the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague.
I know we all hope in this coming summer for the peace and tranquility this woman is experiencing in this image.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXXIJohn Lennon Listening to the 'White Album', London, 1968
This has always been one of my favorite music images. It just brings back so many memories for me. I lived near Abbey Road Studios and walked by it every day for many years through all seasons and also being of that generation to whom John Lennon was so much more than just a talented musician. A symbol for my generation.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXXJustice, North Carolina, August 26th, 1961
Declan Haun dedicated his life as a socially conscious photojournalist, teacher, and curator. He worked as a freelance photographer for many important publications including Life Magazine who commissioned him to cover the Civil Rights Movement. This image was included in John Szarkowski’s celebrated exhibition “The Photographer’s Eye” at the Museum of Modern Art in 1964. In Declan's own words “My pictures are not very complex. I try to make them simple statements of fact or feeling”. He was certainly correct in this, I think it's his greatest image.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXIXRuth Bader Ginsburg, Supreme Court, D.C., 1998
I came across this image a few years back whilst researching an exhibition on Women and was so moved by it. Taken by acclaimed portrait photographer, Michael O’Neill, it was originally commissioned by Vanity Fair and first published in their November 1998 issue.
Taken outside by the columns of the Supreme Court, it captures the essence of a great woman who has spent her life fighting for women’s rights and gender equality and everything else she believes in. She lives her beliefs and isn’t afraid to voice them as an example to us all now.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXVIIIAudrey Hepburn on her bike with her dog "Famous" at Paramount Studios, Los Angeles, CA, 1957
I was thinking about Sid today. Not really sure what prompted it but perhaps because it is almost 20 years since he has passed away. And I last saw him.
I think for the last few years of his life there was hardly a Saturday afternoon between the hours of 1pm to 3 pm he wouldn’t come by the gallery. He just loved to look at all the great photographers’ work on display. I would introduce him to anyone who was there, “Please meet Sid, one of the greatest Hollywood photographers ever." He would love that and enjoy telling the anecdotes of a rich and wonderful life to our visitors. There was always a story I hadn’t heard before and it kinda became 'Sid’s Salon.' I would just try and disappear and let him hold court...I learnt a lot from him and he also had such a great eye for American Paintings of which he had formed a wonderful collection, which he loved to share with me.
A warm and generous spirit. Here is my favorite image of his of Audrey Hepburn on the Paramount Studio backlot with her dog called “Famous."
It doesn’t get any better than this.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXVIIMorocco, 1963
Bruno is one of the great photojournalists. For over five decades he has been an inveterate traveller who has opened my eyes and heart to many places I wished I had experienced first hand but fortunately I can gain a little insight into from his great understanding and respect for the cultures he knows so well on all continents.
A scholar and a gentleman and a very gracious host with an enormous heart and sensitivity as is evidenced in this beautiful image.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXVIPortrait of Abraham Lincoln, June, 3rd, 1860
Alexander Hesler, a noted commercial photographer based in Chicago, arranged two portrait sessions with Lincoln in 1858 and 1860. The images from their first session displayed the presidential candidate with disordered and messy hair. During the subsequent election campaign, the Republican National Committee grew concerned that Lincoln might appear unkempt compared to his opponent, Stephen A Douglas. Hesler therefore produced this more dapper and well groomed representation of the candidate at the second sitting. The artist, George B. Ayres, purchased Hesler’s studio in 1867, a move that saved it’s contents from being destroyed when the gallery burned down in the Chicago Fire of 1871.
This has always been my favorite portrait of Lincoln and has been a source of inspiration and hope, especially now.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXVEighth Street Movie Theater, New York [Frederick Kiesler, Architect], 1946
Apart from photography, cinema is one of my other great loves. I think I must have spent a great part of my youth at the British Film Institute. Cinemas on the Embankment in London getting my film education...and today I started thinking about this image and its maker, Ruth Bernhard.
I enjoyed a long and wonderful collaboration with her. She was our first exhibition in my first gallery so many years ago. Such a feisty and inspiring artist to be around. Mentored and inspired by Edward Weston in the 1930’s, she had a long and illustrious career. Primarily known for her exquisite nudes (as Ansel Adams said “The greatest photographer of the Nude”) this is a rare gem in her body of work. Her father, the distinguished graphic designer Lucian Bernhard introduced Ruth to his friend and fellow emigre, the famous architect Frederick Kiesler, who had just designed this cinema in New York and asked her to photograph it for him. It seems like only yesterday I was at her 100th Birthday Party and was honored to speak at her memorial service.
Here is Ruth’s Recipe for a long and happy life.
1. Never get used to anything
2. Hold on to child in you
3. Keep your curiosity alive
4. Trust your intuition
5. Delight in simple things
6. Say “yes” to life with passion
7. Fall madly in love with the world
8. Remember: Today is the day
~ Ruth Bernhard October 14th, 1995
Thank you Ruth for this advice. You are right!
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXIIIJFK & Jackie at the Diner, Oregon, 1959
I have always felt this is one of the greatest political photos ever taken. JFK and Jackie at the beginning of their campaign. Having spent the night in a small motel and after attending Sunday morning Mass they have a simple breakfast in a nearby quintessential American diner. Such a shot would be inconceivable now.
I felt close to that period of history through my friendship with Jacques at the beginning of my gallery career. We always used to have lunch or dinner at his favorite restaurant “Odeon” near his Tribeca loft whenever I was in New York. Always new stories, always new insights. The irony is that shortly after he passed away his archive was reduced to ashes in the Twin Towers bombing.
Great memories from our own diner encounters. Thank you Jacques.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXIImogen Cunningham & Twinka at Yosemite, California, 1974
Sometimes the magic of photography happens unexpectedly, when all the stars align in a serendipitous moment.
Judy Dater, a very skilled and talented photographer, was conducting a photo workshop on shooting the Nude, organized by Ansel Adams in Yosemite. Imogen Cunningham, the celebrated then 90 year old photographer (soon to have a major retrospective herself at the Getty Museum) was visiting to give a lecture. Twinka Thiebaud, the daughter of the great painter Wayne Thiebaud, was the contracted model. Et voila! it happened.
A few years ago an attractive woman walked into my gallery whilst this photo was on display. “That’s me,” Twinka advised.
Small world, eh? It still puts a smile on my face after all these years.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXIWinston Churchill, 1941
This is probably one of the greatest 20th Century portraits ever taken. The true magic of photography where subject matter and artistic talent collaborate unexpectedly to create a moment in history that endures forever and inspires each new generation.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LXPainter of the Eiffel Tower, Paris, France, 1953
I was thinking today of all the wonderful times I have had in Paris with all the wonderful photographers based there. I sincerely wish I could just jump on a plane tomorrow, but alas no.
Marc spent a very rich and long life as a photographer traveling the world, photographing people with such great empathy and a huge sense of justice. As his good friend and fellow traveller, Elliott Erwitt, said of him, “He was serious about not being serious." Of his own work, Marc also said “Surprises of every kind lie in wait for the photographer - they open the eyes and quicken the heartbeat of those with a passion for looking.”
Thank you Marc for conjuring up all these uplifting memories again of your beautiful city.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LIXLes Petite Dalles, Normandy, 1973
In another sad week for America on so many levels our dear friend Martine said it all. Through her art and her words. And her life.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LVIIIGirl Playing in Light Circles; Grand Central Station, NY, 1954
Brooklyn made Louis who he was, but Paris made him into the poet he became. He lived a controlled schizophrenia between the love of the two cities that he spent most of his life in.
He was a true original. Real tough and combative on the outside, but a real gentle soul on the inside. I loved being with him when I came to visit him in Paris. We would intellectually arm wrestle on so many topics. He was a Moses-like figure, something out of a novel no one could ever write. I just loved his work and still do.
His widow told me recently that, "He met his match with you." I took it as a compliment and a tribute to the enormous respect I had for him, working creatively till the day he died.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LVIICountry Road, Lancaster, PA, 1961
George has dedicated his life in pursuit of the art and craft of photography. Spending time with him is beyond inspiring. His focus and hard work have resulted in such a powerful body of work. As an Englishman, he has helped me understand America in a deeply profound way, its nuances and sub text. There is a Hopper like beauty to his imagery which is universal. I bet many people’s first car was a VW Bug. I know it certainly was mine. We have been on a wonderful journey with George which I hope continues for many more years.
Thank you George for the ride.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LVICalla, 1981 (Printed 1981)
Sheila Metzner has created some of the most beautiful photographs I have ever seen especially in her collaborations with the revered Fresson family on their unique carbon process invented by Theodore-Henri Fresson in 1899, whose legacy is now carried on by his family the Atelier Fresson based outside of Paris. In her long and distinguished career she exudes an unrivaled sense of style and beauty. Surrounded now with her powerful, haunting color images has certainly lifted my mood to embrace the not-too-distant future when we can all experience the light again.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LVBarbershop, Rome, 1956
I was reading today about the booming sales of personal grooming kits and it reminded me of this photo...I just love William Klein, now in his 93rd year.
His energy, his emotional quirkiness, his “I don’t care what you think" attitude. He is one of the last survivors of that generation of photographers that shaped the art of 20th Century Photography.
Long may he thrive.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LIVViolins, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1941 (Printed 1980's)
The violin is one of my most favorite sounds to listen to. It is so emotional and heart-wrenching.
I don’t have to turn on any Mozart, Bach or Beethoven to hear it. I just look at Arnold’s image and hear them all. Justly celebrated as one of the great 20th Century portrait photographers, this is a rare gem in his body of work.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LIIIJohn & Alice Coltrane, Englewood Cliff, New Jersey, April 1966
One of the all-time great Jazz Photos by the highly underrated Chuck Stewart...this is a rare gem.
Sure it is about the soul of Jazz, but it is about so much more than that in my opinion. It is about the soul of a creative relationship.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LIIMaidens in Waiting, 1951
In an age of social distancing this is one of the great non-social distancing images in the History of Photography.
One can only imagine what the two friends are chatting about. First published in “Picture Post”, the UK equivalent to “Life Magazine,” the woman in the polka dot dress and her friend became instantly famous. She passed away recently after a rich and fulfilling life and requested in her will that she be buried with this dress.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LISavoy Ballroom Harlem, New York [couple dancing], 1939
I owe Cornell Capa a great debt. He was one of my true mentors and I had the honor of hosting an exhibition of his own images before he passed away.
He never promoted his own work as he felt it was ethically not right being the head of the museum, International Center of Photography, which he founded. But I always thought he was a great photographer, in a way, greater than his more famous brother Robert.
His Savoy Ballroom is a masterful composition, full of life and energy.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY LEleanor and Barbara, Chicago, 1954
A couple of years before he passed away, I was in Atlanta and had the great pleasure of taking Harry Callahan to dinner. He was so quiet and humble and self-effacing. I had to pinch myself that I was in the presence of one of the great 20th Century photographers.
Here is my favorite photograph of his. A beautiful portrait of his wife and muse, Eleanor, and their daughter, Barbara.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XLIXCotton Candy, San Angel, Mexico, 1981
I think this is talented Latin photographer Mario Algaze’s greatest image.
I am immediately transported into this woman’s life. It is shot with such tenderness and heart...I am walking just behind her.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XLVIII"The Daydream" / El ensueño, 1931 / Printed c. 1970
If I were to be cast away on a Desert Island with only 10 photos this would surely be one of them as it goes straight to the heart like a piercing arrow. Its beautiful composition and the soul of the image have haunted me for over 40 years since I first saw it.
It is timeless, eternal. What is she daydreaming about? What are we daydreaming about now in our isolation?
Maestro Don Manuel - thank you.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XLVIIHousewife, Eastend, London, 1937
As I said in a previous post, I have always felt all collecting is autobiographical. We are attracted to images that tell part of our story.
I was born in the East End and this could have been my mother. Here again a portrait of great empathy with the magic element of the highlighted wedding ring which helps tell her story.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XLVIEaster Sunday in Harlem, 1940, printed 1940
Weegee is generally know for his gritty, violent urban crime scene work rushing to get there before the police arrived, but there is a real tender side to him as evidenced by my favorite image of his... Easter Sunday in Harlem.
A moment of joy, community, relief, happiness and hope. Exactly what we are all wishing for now.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XLVMadrid, 1975
Sometimes one yearns for some vibrant color in one's life. There is something so primal in this image. I’m not sure what it is about, but it doesn’t concern me as I try not to over analyze images.
This one just got to me and I wanted to live with it. It energized and moved me and I hope it does you too.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XLIVPaul Newman in white t-shirt taking a class at The Actors Studio, New York, 1955
Eve Arnold was one of the great Magnum Photographers.
She lived on one of my favourite streets in London, Mount Street, near the Royal butcher.
She was so intelligent and feisty. I asked her to make me this little known image of Paul Newman in the Actors Studio. I love movies and especially the great Newman movies like “Hud," “The Hustler," “Butch Cassidy," “The Sting," “The Verdict” and so many more.
You can tell from his presence in this class that he would certainly be destined for something great.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XLIIICharing Cross Road from No. 84, (Marks & Co.), 1937
This is the most autobiographical photograph I have ever collected. I was born in the East End of London into a very modest background to say the least. My parents had both left school at 13 years old. I always dreamed that outside our tiny apartment there was a bigger world to explore. Every Saturday morning I used to take myself on the tube “Up West” to Central London and Charing Cross Road depicted here where there were rows and rows of second hand bookstores where, for literally pennies, I could find second hand books to feed my curiosity plus a second hand jazz record store called Dobells where I could listen to jazz records for hours that I could not afford to buy. This was my weekly ritual and Charing Cross Road became my cultural nirvana.
Flash forward, I see this image about thirty years ago and wham that was it and I met its creator - Wolf Suschitzky. On every trip back to London I would visit Wolf in his little appartment. He was a gentleman from the “old Middle European School." We had our own special ritual. He would brew me the greatest Viennese coffee and there would always be the most delicious apple strudel to accompany it. And then we would talk for hours and look through his archives. I always discovered something new and special there. I thought he was such a truly great and under-appreciated photographer and promoting his work became my “Mission,” to secure him the recognition I felt he deserved. It still is...He passed away at 104 years old and to be honest there is not a day I don’t think about him as I live surrounded by his work.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XLIIMoscow, Gymnasts, 1954
One day whilst visiting Henri in Paris in his apartment, I brought with me one of my favorite books of his - the long out-of-print, “The People of Moscow“ which I thought was full of unknown 'gems'.
I pointed to this image of the gymnasts and asked, “Henri, I love this photograph...why have you never made a signed collector print of this image? I think it is very strong.” “Well Peter” he replied, “No one has ever asked."
I asked him would he be willing to make three prints for me. “If you insist, I will oblige." And so it went on over many years.
My favourite images of his have always been the ones I had never seen prints of before.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XLIoung Stayman Winesap in Bloom, c. 1985/Printed 2006
I think John Szarkowski had one of the greatest minds I have ever encountered. Beyond articulate and intelligent, his early writings, especially his classic book “Looking at Photographs," nurtured my interest in photography.
Revered as one of the greatest curators of photography ever he was also an incredible photographer and printmaker in his own right. Every Monday morning he would bring in apples from his cherished trees which you see here to his staff at Museum of Modern Art New York.
I had the great honour of hosting the last public exhibition of his work. The week he was with us in California still fills me with such beautiful memories of great meals and conversations. Sadly, he passed away a few weeks after the exhibition opened.
I owe him a lot.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XLHead Waiter Renee Breguet Serving Drinks on Grand Hotel Ice Rink, St. Moritz, 1932 (Printed 1990)
Alfred Eisenstaedt was probably the most celebrated and beloved of all the great Life Magazine photographers. He was there from the start and spent over 40 years working there. I remember meeting him in Martha's Vineyard a few years before he passed away at age 96 years old in 1995. He was so full of life and childlike enthusiasm which is really the key to longevity as a great photographer.
This is one of my favorite images of his. The bon vivants of the world used to stay at the celebrated Grand Hotel les Bains in St Moritz, I’m sure just to sit on its ice terrace and be served by its famous skating staff. The head waiter, Renee Bregut, immortalized here by Eisie’s lens.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XXXVIIILa 2CV, Paris, 1957
When I am with Sabine as I was in November, I cannot believe I am sitting with a woman who is 96 years old. She is full of vigor and enthusiasm. She is the last living photographer from one of my favorite eras in the history of photography - The French Humanist Post War period - which gave us Boubat, Doisneau and Ronis.
I remember witnessing an incredible sight. She was only 91 years old at the time and was being honored with a big exhibition in Paris and there was a special book signing event which I think was originally scheduled for one hour at noon. There were literally crowds around the block with hundreds waiting to have their books signed and personalized. It went on for five hours and Sabine was patient, courteous and focused on everyone who was lucky to be in her presence.
That is what makes a great photographer.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XXXVIIThird Avenue El., New York, 1955 Gelatin silver print
20 x 16 inches
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XXXVIEye of Love #516, 195
The history of Photography is full of examples of the Muse as Inspiration, think Alfred Steiglitz and Georgia O’Keeffe, Edward Weston and Charis Wilson, Harry Callahan and his wife Eleanor throughout their 63 year old marriage. But none is as powerful or poignant as René Groebli telling of his honeymoon in a simple, small Paris hotel as his “Eye of Love” series.
To my mind, it is the greatest love story ever told in still images. Now in his 93rd year, René is a source of constant inspiration. A true life force.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XXXVJackson Pollock Painting in his Studio, Springs, Long Island, NY, 1949
I really love exceptional portraits of artists. I can only dream of owning a Modigliani, Seurat, Picasso, O’Keeffe, Cassat, Agnes Martin, etc., but a great artist portrait is the next best thing.
Martha Holmes was an important Life Magazine photographer and this image of Jackson Pollock deservedly made the front cover when it was first published.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XXXIVRue Muller à Montmartre, Paris, 1934
I enjoyed such a wonderful 20 year collaboration with Willy Ronis. Whenever I was in Paris I would take him to dinner.
One day I said I want to take you to the restaurant where you shot “Rue Muller”. We went there and the street hadn’t changed in over 60 years. I had booked the restaurant to give him his 100th birthday party but sadly he passed away at 99 and a half years, after a long and fulfilling life.
One of the greats for sure.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XXXIIIUntitled, (Stickball Scene, Brooklyn Gang, NY), 1959
Bruce Davidson’s Sunday morning “Stickball” is like an elegant ballet. The cars have just been given their weekly wash and there is that wonderful leisurely feeling after a frantic week no doubt.
It’s a classic image capturing a community and spirit that we can only now look back on wistfully.
So much has changed now.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XXXIIEdward Weston and Margrethe Mather, 1922
Imogen Cunningham, soon to be the subject of a major Getty Museum exhibition, captured this intimate portrait of her fellow photographers Edward Weston and Margrethe Mather with such exquisite tenderness and insight. One of the great love stories in the history of photography, also stimulated equally great work at this time from the sitters.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XXXIUntitled #2, 2014
A chance viewing on Instagram by one of our fashion clients who urged us to seek out this young, emerging Hungarian female photographer from just this one image.
Such is the power of photography. That this image has changed both her life and ours. We have been given the gift of a great new photographer to collaborate with and she has been given the gift of being able now to support herself as a full time artist due to the enormous global support of her rare and original talent.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XXXTeachers, They are the Markers of the Next Generation, 1956
Bert Hardy was one of the great English photojournalists. He worked for the English equivalent of “LIFE” magazine called “Picture Post” for whom he traveled constantly seeking out human interest stories.
Here is a rare signed print with such a great and true title.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XXIXSnow in Jardin des Tuileries, 1978
Martine Franck was one of the most gracious people I have ever met.
She went out of her way to introduce me to so many great photographers like Willy Ronis, Edouard Boubat, Sebastiao Salgado because she thought it would be good for me and for them.
She was a great photographer in her own right but completely self-effacing. If you look very closely at this image, you will see a solitary woman walking in the far distance in the snow.
Snowy imagery and black and white analogue printing, a marriage made in photographic heaven.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XXVIIIJacques d'Amboise Playing with his Children, Seattle, Washington, 1962
John Dominis was one of the great Life Magazine Photographers.
He was commissioned to shoot one of the great male dancers of the era, Jacques d'Amboise.
Not only a portrait of a dancer at his physical peak but a portrait of fatherhood.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XXVII"One for My Baby," Frank Sinatra, Uris Theater, NYC, 1975
I grew up loving Sinatra. Probably like a lot of kids I used to sing in front of a mirror with a pretend microphone.
He was so cool and I ended up meeting him in 1981. In my former life I produced a film with Luciano Pavarotti. Pavarotti idolized Sinatra. Sinatra idolized Pavarotti. Sinatra graciously hosted the opening night party for us in NY and I got to meet him in these dreamlike circumstances.
Flash forward many years. We hosted an exhibition of all the great Sinatra images at the gallery in collaboration with the Sinatra family who were just great to be with. They thought the exhibition was just so classy.
This was Frank Sinatra, Jr’s favorite photo of his dad. He said that was him.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XXVIBlind Boy, New York City, 1961
Many years ago, I was visiting a small exhibition of people’s favorite photos in Los Angeles and came across this image of a young boy who lived in a special school for blind children. I had never heard of Charles Harbutt so I tracked him down. He was so modest and humble in spite of being the President of Magnum Photos.
Here the blind child is searching for the light he cannot see. Isn’t this what we, who are blessed with sight, are always trying to do?
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XXVValencia, Spain, 1952
Elliott Erwitt - another all time favorite human being and photographer. Intelligent, insightful, gracious and human.
On temporary leave from army service, Elliott was sleeping on the couch at his friend, Robert Frank, and his wife’s apartment and captures this wonderful joyful moment.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XXIVBed, Amagansett, 1977
There is something so seductive about Lilo Raymond’s work.
Her on-the-surface simple, domestic interiors evoke a deep range of emotions. A longing for calm and respite from a chaotic world not far from here.
Is it the light or the white or both that makes us want to inhabit her rooms and never leave?
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XXIIIEnergy & High Spirits in the East End, London, 1954
Thurston was such a joy to be around. Typically English in his demeanor, very modest and humble about his incredible achievements, but with such a life force.
This image is pure, pure joy and I see it every day.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XXIIMorning Mists, Pyin U Lwin, 2019
I have known my friend, Michael Kenna, for over 40 years now. I think we both came over on the same banana boat steerage from the UK.
I have watched his career progress from being Master Printer for our mutual friend, Ruth Bernhard, to a major artist in his own right. He has never lost his humility, grace and curiosity and his technical prowess and talent just gets stronger.
This brand new image just seems so appropriate for our current times. May the gentle mists roll over us and bring us peace.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XXIOn Lake Ladoga, 1980
Visiting our great friend, Pentti Sammallahti, in Helsinki we had just finished lunch when we passed a bookstore and in the front window was a book of photographs with this image on the front cover. It stopped me in my tracks and I asked Pentti who was the photographer.
Caj was elderly, he is 91 years old now, and had closed down his darkroom.
We met and Pentti offered to graciously help him print a few prints of this image for me in his darkroom. I love images of mystery and having lived with this image for many years I have never quite unraveled its story. But that doesn’t matter. I am still hypnotized by it and always will be.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XXSara, the Only Flowers of Her Youth, Warsaw, Poland, 1939
When I was growing up in London when I was about 16 years old I picked up a copy of Roman Vishniac’s book “A Vanished World”. It was the first photo book I had ever bought. The power of it totally took me over, especially this image.
Flash forward 5 years, I had scraped enough money together to go visit New York which was always a dream. I don’t know what possessed me but I looked through the telephone directory (do any of you remember these?) and saw that he was listed. I took a deep breath and mustered up the courage to call. Mr Vishniac answered and I nervously fumbled my way to say I was so moved by his book and this was my first day in America and could I come meet him? He said, "Come round tomorrow. I’m busy but I will give you 10 minutes."
I went to his apartment on Upper Broadway and stayed 5 hours. I must have looked like a waif and his wife kept feeding me continuously. He was so intelligent, so erudite, so inspiring with his stories of how he captured these images of this community who were doomed to perish. I asked him more about “Sara”. He told me she had never seen flowers in person and that her father had painted them for her to try to give her hope that there was a world outside.
It is still one of the greatest photos I have ever seen.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XIXLincoln Memorial, Washington DC, 1959 (Printed 1959 for NY Times)
I’ve always been interested in politics and government and power and how it all does or doesn’t work. No more so than now… So for me this image has a special resonance.
Every politician cannot afford to ignore the giant shadow that Abraham Lincoln casts and hopefully his exceptional qualities washes over them during this special time in world history.
The Power of Photography XVIIIGuedras in the Wind, Morocco, 1971, printed 1978
No one made more beautiful prints than Mr Penn.
I feel I have to be very formal even when I think about and write about him. He commands reverence. He is certainly in a class of his own. The dedication and craft it takes to execute an image like this cannot be underestimated.
I owned a print of this 30 years ago but had to sell it to start up my gallery. It broke my heart to part with it, but a print of it came back to me recently after all these years of absence. It is truly inspirational and reminds me that nothing in life worth having comes easy.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XVIIMaternité, 1971
I had the great pleasure of working closely with Edouard in the 1990’s whilst he was alive.
He was exactly what his photos are still - sensitive, gentle and tender.
Here is a rare gem I asked him to make for me.
THE POWER OF PHOTOGRAPHY XVIBlack Tree and Temple, Hiei-San, Kyoto, Japan, 1976
I have never been to Japan but Paul Caponigro immediately transports me there and offers up the solace and peace I am searching for right now.
One of my favorite human beings, his talent and dedication have been a source of inspiration for over 30 years now.
The Power of Photography XVLe Vie Du Printemps, Paris, 1948/Printed Later
Being an incurable romantic of course I gravitated to Robert Doineau’s imagery pretty early on in my collecting.
But this is rare gem in his body of work and not one he printed many of. First love? Who can ever forget it?
The Power of Photography XIVLa Bendición, Isla del Sol, Bolivia, 1990
I met Flor Garduno over 30 years ago when she was given an exhibition by Foto Fest. She did not speak any English and my Spanish was limited at best. I saw her exhibition “Witnesses of Time” which brought me to tears. It was so powerful and haunting.
I went up to her and just put my hand on my heart and wiped the tears from my eyes. I hugged her and after that we started to work together.
“The Blessing” is part of a wedding ceremony she witnessed. It comforts me and give me hope every time I look at it.
The Power of Photography XIIIForester' Child, Westerwald, 1931/Printed 1992 by Gerd Sander (grandson)
August Sander’s epic projects are so revealing and intense. Totally masterful and encyclopedic. Absolutely one of the great Masters of Portraiture. Here is a moment of lightness and joy. I suspect this boy echoes this feeling.
The Power of Photography XIIAmerica In Blue, 2017
“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
~ Emma Lazarus
When I first met Ernesto I knew instinctively that here was a new talent, bursting with energy and fresh ideas. How many times had I seen images of this American Icon but it radiated a special transcendence which bowled me over. Now more than ever do these words ring true.
The Power of Photography XIJohn Lennon and Paul McCartney
Of course the Beatles have been much photographed but this has always been my favourite. Taken by the great David Bailey, a fellow East Ender. It’s more than about Paul Mccartney and John Lennon. It is so much more universal than that.
It is about friendship and creativity and shared history.
The Power of Photography XOn the Banks of the Marne, Paris, 1938
It was always Cartier-Bresson’s intention to become a painter as a young man. He studied intensely with the celebrated teacher and Cubist painter Andre Lhote.
Fortunately, for the history of photography and for us, he discovered photography to become in my opinion, the greatest 20th Century photographer and maybe the greatest photographer ever. His work was the inspiration for me to open a fine art photography gallery so my debt to him is huge.
One can see the painterly influence on this key early image, “On The Banks of the Marne”. It is as if Seurat picked up a camera by mistake instead of his paint brushes. It’s simple joy and humanity and always puts a smile on my face.
The Power of Photography IX4th of July Fireworks, 1962
Bruce is one of the great Magnum photographers best known for his gritty urban work. This is a rare gem in his archive.
Full of wonderment, humanity and hope.
The Power of Photography VIII'March on Washington' - Martin Luther King Jr. after delivering his, 'I Have a Dream' speech, Lincoln Memorial, Washington D.C., August 28, 1963/Printed 2007
Many years ago we mounted a Civil Rights Exhibition in the gallery, it was a subject that completely enveloped me.I knew we needed to have a great MLK image to anchor the exhibition and I subsequently spent months hunting and viewing hundreds of images. When I came across Dan Budnik’s understated work and met him I knew this was the one.
The Power of Photography VIITrailer - Camp Children, Richmond, California, c. 1944, printed 1975
Ansel Adams is justly celebrated for his epic depictions of majestic landscapes, but this rare, little discussed, haunting image of displaced children shows his profound empathy for humanity. Certainly on a par with, his close colleague Dorothea Lange’s, “Migrant Mother” but certainly no less powerful.
The Power of Photography VIThe Dream (Mary Ann Hillier), 1869
We are pleased to continue our new online series called the Power of Photography highlighting hope, peace and love in the world. We invite you to enjoy and reflect on these works during this time.
Taking up photography at the age of 40 years old, urged on by her children as an antidote to her husband leaving to run the family plantations in India, Julia Margaret Cameron became the first great female photographer.
It is so hard to find her prints in such perfect condition as this one. I had collected several in the past in not so great a condition but it was always a dream to find a 10. My dream came true with this one and it just transports me to a special pace each time I look at it.
The Power of Photography VSmall Apples, 1984
I was visiting our great friend and artist, Pentti Sammallahti, in Helsinki and I casually said to him, “Perhaps there is another great photographer in Finland I should meet?”
He made a telephone call and the next day he drove me for over 3 hours in the freezing cold through what seemed like at the time endless forests to meet his most favored student and protege, Kristopher.
We spent a delightful few hours all together and as we were talking and eating out of the corner of my eye I saw this gem of an image hanging on a discrete wall. I had to get up to look at it more closely. Then like a powerful Ali punch I was knocked out by it’s power and physical beauty.
A tender and loving portrait of his wife.
It remains, to this day, one of my all time favorite images.
The Power of Photography IVSenator John F. Kennedy at the Capitol, Washington DC, 1953, printed later
This is my favorite Arnold Newman image. Such a great environmental portrait with a true sense of destiny as JFK looks to the future.
Where is our leader now?
The Power of Photography IIIWoman's Hands, 1956
Wynn Bullock, to my mind, is one the greatest 20th Century photographers. Often eclipsed by his more well known contemporaries, Edward Weston and Ansel Adams.
This is a haunting portrait of his mother’s hands taken in his modest house in Carmel in 1956. The beauty of the print just knocks me out and is the definition of the word “primal”.
The Power of Photography II
Of course, “The Steerage” is one of the most celebrated images in the history of photography.
For good reason as its genius graphic construction and human empathy is utterly timeless.
The Power of Photography IThe Wailing Wall, Jerusalem, c. 1860
Jerusalem has been, and is, the spiritual home to three major religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. To say it is a magical place is a great understatement.
I have seen and collected many images of The Holy Land but this recent acquisition is I think the greatest I have ever seen taken at this special place. I believe it to be a unique print. It is as if Irving Penn had been transported back in time.