After agonizing difficulties with 3 other publishers over several years, Robert Delpire published my first book in 2006. I had met Bob in 1998, when I first arrived in Paris, through Annie Boulat. Annie was the one and only contact I had when my virgin feet touched French soil, given to me by a friendly Italian photographer at a party in New York just days before my departure. Bob was a hard read at first. I wasn’t sure whether he liked my work or not, but when he pointed at a picture of a stuffed Felix the cat in a toy store in Korea and said, “I’d like to put this in a book I’m doing about cats…is that OK for you?”
I saw Bob once every couple of years after that, always bringing a box of small prints of new pictures. He didn’t say much, just “Keep shooting, keep shooting.” It was in 2000 or 2001 when he asked me, “What kind of film do you shoot with?” When I told him Tri-X, he told me to come back the following week. There were two boxes with 100 rolls of Tri-X waiting for me.
Gerhard Kleinehagenbrock was a German from London. We shared the SRO hotel room before Armon came into the picture. He abided by his strict rule of only wearing Levi’s button-fly 501’s and Jean-Paul Gaulthier’s jackets. He had worked at the Ritz in London and was looking for a job at a ritzy hotel in New York. In the meantime, he worked occasionally for a temp agency called Lend A Hand, mostly catering gigs for weddings and parties. He got me in on the action and sometimes we would take the subway all the way out to Brighton Beach to a synagogue for wedding receptions. The long trek was worth it because it paid $15 an hour and back in the late 80s, that was good money.
Snuck up on this beautiful white horse having dinner on the island of Schiermonnikoog in Holland. He was too busy chowing away to notice me encroaching him ever closer. The lens was wide open and I think the shutter speed was 1/2 a second or maybe even a full second. The sound of the shutter clicking startled the poor bugger and he moseyed on over to another spot to dine in peace.
The girl was the Swedish girlfriend of my roommate Armon when we were living in Little Italy. For the life of me, I can’t remember her name. I want to say Liv but that’s probably because she was as beautiful as Liv Ullmann and I would bet anything that Ingmar Bergman would have put her in one of his movies if he had met her. I was secretly in love with her and fantasized that “Liv” would dump Armon and run away with me.
Having a beer, or two, with the great Anders Petersen in a bar in St. Paul sometime in 2003. I got to meet this master Swedish photographer during the brief time that I was with Galerie VU. Fiercely intense and uncompromisingly dedicated to his art, coupled with incredible kindness and generosity, Anders is one of the very few great artists that I’ve met whose humanity is on par with the greatness of his work.
Something that Anders told me that summer day has always stayed with me: “I like desperate people.”
He was a tall and lean circus performer, juggling glass balls was his specialty. An Austrian girl who was a trapeze artist that I had met in Rome passed through Paris and she took me over to somewhere in the suburbs where a bunch of circus performers were camping out. Paris, 1999.
I don’t know how many chambre de bonnes there are in Paris, but I’ve lived in half of them.
One day, I saw a young man standing on the rooftop of the building across from mine. I was worried that he might be about to do something horrific.
“Ca va?” I asked.
“Ca va.” he answered.
He stood frozen for a few minutes. I guess he was taking in the spectacular view. I went about my business and when I looked out of the window in the other room moments later, he was gone.
This was taken a few days before I dropped out of school in Ann Arbor and moved to New York City with big hopes and dreams of making it as a photographer. 1987. I was 19, scared shitless, had zero confidence, and was filled with rage. I had no clue at the time how long it would take for me to come to terms with the formidable rage boiling inside of me. But who does at 19?