Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Early Observations

There is such a thing as being in the right place at the right time. It is also true that ignorance is bliss. My training was in music. What better plan than to photograph what I knew best.
I was very lucky. I was a kid who wanted to photograph opera. I showed up at the New York City Opera with little experience and offered to work for peanuts. They were a low-budget company and found that plan agreeable. For me, it became a profound apprenticeship. What I didn't know could have filled volumes. What I did have was the ability to observe, think, experiment, and blend into the shadows. I observed rehearsals in the rehearsal rooms, stood in the wings for every performance, watched silently, scrunched in the orchestra pit, in hallways, up on the catwalk, in corners absorbing it all, - the music, the professionalism of opera. Had I been intrusive it would never have worked. Instead my innate shyness served me well, a shadow who felt the music deeply and was documenting memories.
These were the days of film cameras. Shoot, develop film, wait for it to dry, make contact sheets, deliver same to Press Representative, wait for editorial selections, make prints sometimes printing all through the night, deliver prints, repeat cycle all over again day in and day out. Now the world has gone digital, instant results by pushing a button, but back then it was hours of hard work, hours in the dark using chemicals. I'm glad that technology is no longer necessary, but I'm glad to have the memories on film, carefully preserved film that will not delete.
The old images are emotional. People change, disappear, die. The reaction, as in family portraits, is usually, "Oh my God, look how young they look". When looking at the pictures I still feel the wonder of it all, the fascination and a profound thankfulness that I had this opportunity to watch and learn, and that these great artists gave us such fabulous performances.
To be continued................................................

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