Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Happy New Year!

We wish you all the very best for the coming year. 

May peace prevail.

Ice on Window, New Hampshire, 2010

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Hellas Signing at Rizzoli

Last week Rizzoli Bookstore on 57th St. in New York hosted a reception and signing for Bill's new book, HELLAS Photographs of Modern Greece.  We were thrilled to see scores of old friends and meet many new ones.  Additional signings are being planned for Athens and Los Angeles and an exhibition of photographs from the book is slated for New York in the summer of 2011.  We'll keep you posted on details as they firm. 

Pictured is photographer Sherri O'Connor with a copy of HELLAS.  Sherri told us this was the first signed photography book she's ever had.

Friday, December 17, 2010

UPDATE on Pate's Tapes

Yesterday we posted that, since being launched last month, had gotten over 6,000 hits.

We've just learned that number has jumped to 130,000 hits in more than 80 countries. 

Our friend, Sally Schneider noted on The Improvised Life that she thinks it has the best collection of Christmas music she's heard.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pate's Tapes

Charles Pates, the Creative Director at Garnet Hill has a fascinating sideline.  In 1977 he started making mixed tapes from what sounds like one of the most remarkable collection of vinyl records on the planet. The tapes started to be heard at bars and restaurants but with the digital age, that changed.  But now that's changed again.  Charles just turned us onto a new site he's launched called  He's taken this monumental collection of mixes and uploaded them for your pleasure.  Right now there are 10 mixes online but if the response to the site is any indication, he'll be making a lot more available soon.  Within the first month of launching, he had nearly 6,000 hits from all over the world and all the music aficionados we've turned onto the site are blown away by it.  Check out the site here and keep an eye on it for more releases.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Journey to India with Dominique Browning

In my new Slow Love Life, one of the most important lessons I have learned is not to defer our dreams for too long. So off we go!

Former House and Garden Editor and author of Slow Love Dominique Browning is going to India, she's invited A+B See readers to go with her and the beneficiary is GoodWeave – a nonprofit working to end child labor in the carpet industry and offer educational opportunities to children in India and Nepal.

You can view the itinerary and specifics by clicking here.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Our Dog Portrait

We want to share the talents of a local artist who paints lovely oil portraits of dogs in classic, regal poses and settings.  We discovered his work through our veterinarian, Dr. Jeff Israel here in Bedford, in whose waiting room hang many of Joseph Bushman's paintings.  These old-English inspired jewels are small--about 6 x 8 inches--and come in a simple wood frame.  A custom portrait of your dog is $95.  Our sweet Reagan, getting on in years, was captured to a tee by Mr. Bushman, from his diffident expression to his particular protrusions, all from a few jpegs we sent via email.  You can contact Mr. Bushman by email ( or by phone at 914-423-4971.  Tell him we sent you! 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Watching Paint Dry

The second stage of planning to repaint is to test Eve Ashcraft's color suggestions in place.  We bought sample sizes of all 17 options, and painted them on sheets of mason board which had been primed with white. 

Now, we can place the colors in their proper rooms throughout the house, and see how they work against the floor color choices and against rooms within the same sightlines.  We'll be able to see how the colors look in the light of our house, bright days, dark days and night time.  We'll walk through again with Eve, and make our final decisions.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Amazing Woman of Color

Eve Ashcraft is widely known in the world of architecture and interiors for her remarkable sense of color.

We first met her nearly 15 years ago through our work with Martha Stewart Living.  Eve was responsible for the development of the original palettes for Martha's Everyday Paint line--still to us one of the greatest tools for introducing color into everyday living.  To this day, we've kept a complete set of the revolutionary sample chips Eve designed, which allow you to pick a color and see an array of colors that work with that choice.  We were fortunate to have Eve design the paint plan for our Bedford home when we first moved here in 1996, which I then photographed for Martha Stewart.

Since then, the colors in our house evolved--and away from her cohesive color scheme.   A few months ago, after not having seen Eve for some time, our paths crossed again on a shoot.  We asked Eve if she'd consider consulting with us again on a big palette change.   Lucky for us, she agreed.  Eve has worked on major projects with some of the best architects and interior designers of our time, and not only developed paints colors for Martha, but also Benjamin Moore and, come next spring, her own line of paints for the prestigious Fine Paints of Europe.  2011 will also see the release of her first book, "The Right Color" being published by ArtisanBooks.  It'll be Eve's year.

Last week, Eve came to our house with her giant color set,  an IPhone, IPad, and notepad.  We told her our we'd like to change from the black floors we've lived with for 14 years, to a light painted floor.  Andrea sums up the vibe we have in mind as "a Swedish beach cottage." 

Over the next few weeks, we'll test colors, move swatches and with Eve decide on a final schedule of paints.  It'll be the biggest change we've made in the house in a long time and we're really excited about the big bang that this relatively inexpensive effort will give us.  We'll share some of the process as we move forward.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mann Oh Mann

This month's House Beautiful has a lovely story Bill shot a NYC apartment designed by David Mann.  Scot Schy, once again, provided a beautiful layout opening with one of Bill's favorite image from the shoot.  Our favorite room in this story is the bedroom perfectly styled by Robert Rufino, the new Interiors Director at Architectural Digest.

You can see the entire story here.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Our dear friends, Andree Chalaron and Franck Hoffman along with big sister, Elodie welcomed Sebastian Philip Hoffmann Chalaron to the world yesterday.

Bill's the godfather and could not be more proud.  Welcome Sebastian and congratulations Andree, Franck and Elodie!

Visit their blog, Giggle Gumbo

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

More on Acts of Love

This following was written to Andrea while she was on a shoot in Santorni, Greece.  I was home in Bedford, tending the kids and shooting in the city.  In light of an article today in today's New York Times on the disparity in French households, we thought it was a timely note to share.

I'll be asleep when you read this but I wanted to say how appreciative I am of what you do.  This house work is somewhat thankless.  Especially when you have a career.  Ok, making lunch, reading the paper, the dogs, the cat and chickens, and the hawk all need tending.  Laundry needs to be done and the beds, maybe not made, but at least, straightened.   Dinner needs to be planned, procured, made and then cleaned up.  The floor needs to be swept and the sidewalk neatened.   The vegetables and hydrangeas need water.  Zander's music and Maxie's Spanish homework need to be listened to and a full interrogation given to Simon in hearing him say, "I'm ready for my test".  Then the day job.  The car needs its tires filled and clutter needs to be removed.  There are worries about you traveling that include wanting to protect you and smooth your way.

It's a lot and I have grown a new appreciation of you -- of working mothers. The dogs are badly in need of a long walk.  My clients need my attention.  There is so much to do with the new book.  My cell phone is dying.  Did I call my mother?  Did I call yours?  The broker called.  Are the logistics on tomorrow's shoot finalized?  When you are here, I like reading the paper until the coffee is gone.  I miss you and while I am upset about having to miss the high school homecoming game that Zander came for, I want to be at the airport as you clear customs, to race you home to a very appreciative family that has missed you and needs you here.  We are once again made aware of how many acts of love you do each day.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Simpler is Better

This summer, when we visited our friends in Greece, we brought a load of Mrs. Meyer's cleaning products--a gift that was absolutely loved.  

A few months ago, Bill shot the new Mrs. Meyer print campaign which is now running in magazines.   The images were shot at one of Andrea's location in Westport, styled by Peter Frank and art directed by Chris Lange at Mono.  Mono, in Minneapolis, prides itself on the axiom, 'simpler is better' and one of the great tag lines they wrote for Mrs. Meyer's is, "Nowadays, everyone is earth friendly.  Where were there manners before?"  Those of you that know us, know what that means to us.  We loved working with a company whose mission we believe in and whose stuff we've used for years. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Talk About Intelligent Design

Baby becomes toddler, toddler becomes boy, boy becomes teenager, teenager becomes young man.  Each stage takes us by surprise, each stage thrills us.  Talk about intelligent design.  Just about the time our child begins to live a life independent of us at college, we are at a stage of life in which to see something more clearly, we have to hold it further away.  How appropriate.

Check out our young man's webcast radio show here.  Wednesday night's live broadcast is a family event.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Coastal Living Lobster Wars

We first heard about Matinicus Island, Maine in the New York Times a few years ago.  Matinicus was then the site of an ongoing struggle over lobstering in the waters there between mainland and island lobster man.  The national press started covering the struggle once gunfire started.

Late last summer, we had the opportunity to travel to (and eat a ton of lobster on) this wildly remote island 20 miles off the coast.  Any opportunity to go to Maine is always taken.  This time, we were there to photograph on Matinicus' neighbor, Wheaton Island -- the home of painters Bo Bartlett and Betsy Eby.   You could walk from Matinicus to Wheaton at low tide.  The images and story are from this month's Coastal Living and the life Bartlett and Eby have on this big rock is something to see and the influence it has on their work really powerful.

Take a look at this idyllic life click here.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

October's Elle Decor

Bill's got three stories in this month's Elle Decor including the cover image of Ralph and Ricky Lauren's Manhattan apartment.  Produced by Design Director Anita Sarsidi, the stories include the Lauren apartment, Frederic Fekkai and Shirin Von Wulffen's home and dizzyingly tall model Hana Soukopova and her husband Drew Aaron's dizzyingly high up, art filled, Mark Cunningham-designed apartment. 

You can see the Lauren apartment here, the Robert Couturier designed Fekkai-von Wulffen apartment here and the Soukopova-Aaron home here.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Let's All Be Frank

Our friend, Peter Frank's home is in the current issue of House BeautifulPeter is a talented set designer and prop stylist and his is one of our favorite houses--a house that Bill was very excited about photographing and that Andrea is very proud to represent as a location.   Peter has great style and can ski like a banshee--something that has endeared him to our kids.  Scot Schy did a beautiful layout, Rima Suqi, a great interview and we are very happy to feature it.  You can see the entire article here.

If the photographs make you want to see it all for yourself, including all the rooms that wouldn't fit into the layout, you can! The house is one of the six houses on this year's Historic Hudson Old House Tour, which takes place on October 2nd.    Tickets available at

Monday, August 23, 2010

Exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery

One of Bill's portraits of Martha Stewart is now on display at the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery through June 2011.  You can read the press release from the museum here.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Overhearing Things

Overheard at a recent Dave Matthews Concert in Camden, NJ:

“I wouldn’t walk barefoot on that.”

“Someone should tell that girl to stand up straight.  Bad posture is so unattractive”

“Well, that outfit does NOT enhance her figure.”

“I should have brought my glasses, I’m never gonna see him.”

“I better go to the bathroom one more time before it starts.”

“You need to do some Kegels.”

“Oh, that breeze feels good.”

“Damn.  I forgot to bring Advil.”

“I’d get Reynaud’s holding that drink.”

While our fun-loving souls may stop aging at around 21, our corporeal selves  continue to move along the timeline of life.  While we drank and danced and enjoyed ourselves immensely, these very words came out of the mouths of me and my similarly middle-aged girlfriends.  Perhaps you noticed us there.  We were the ones in the FitFlops.  (I'm fairly sure real 21 year olds don't have extended discussions about the relative merits of various foot callous treatments.)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Summer Begins

I recently took our daughter, our baby, shopping for summer clothes at Forever 21, which is a hit or miss venture.  This particular visit was all hit, and the pile of great stuff at ridiculously low prices kept growing.  "OK," I said.  "This is more than I planned on.  This is going to be your graduation present."  Maxie continued to nose around while I was watching the salesman tally our goods at the register.  "Happy Graduation," I called to her as I handed him the credit card.

"Is she graduating from college?" he asked.

"No!" I responded as if he were crazy.

"Is she already out of college?" he pressed.

"NO!" I practically shouted.  "She's only 16!"

It took a moment to correct myself.  "Wait, she's only 13!"

Today, driving home from the beach, a celebration of the first day of summer, I looked back at my girl, just days away from leaving Middle School.

Graduating from college?  Hmmm.  Guess it's an easy mistake.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Oprah's Psychological Thread

This post was written several weeks ago but I was asked by the magazine to hold off on it until publication.  I just got the issue and the story in which the images appear and still thought the post pertinent.

Last week I was on the road for O The Oprah Magazine

The shoot in California, a portrait of vegan chef Kyle Evans, was part of what will be a 12 page feature on ways people eat, done in signature O style.  As Director of Photography Katie Schad told me, "while the food is important, a clear psychological thread in the images is critical."

Seven hours of shooting at the Stanford Inn, a sampling of Kyle's food including his sublime Sliders, and then home on the red-eye--32 hours of travel, 6 hours of sleep, one hour-long run through fog-shrouded Mendecino Headlands, and 3 exceptional meals.  And that was two of the 12 pages in this story.

Thursday I was in Fort Greene, Brooklyn to shoot a couple of hardcore carnivores.  This portrait featured a couple who eat only what they hunt (in Montana and Alaska, not Brooklyn!).  Friday was at Goodlight Studios for a series of still lifes to round out and complete the story.

I've photographed food for Martha Stewart, Food and Wine, The New York Times and the beloved Gourmet.  Many of the stories I did for those publications involved personalities and travel but this story was unique.  The editors at O are always focused on visually conveying a literal message in the images they use.  A 'concept' or as Katie defined it in this case, 'the psychological thread' is sometimes difficult to visually convey--most magazines just want beautiful images.  

On my first commercial shoot for Conran's-Habitat over 20 years ago, I bristled when asked to do something out of my artistic character.   I was an artist and this was a commission wasn't it?  The Art Director gently pulled me aside.  She understood my dilemma but explained that it was my job to deliver the image they needed to sell the product.  I learned then and there that while I was hired for my eye, I was also hired to solve their problems while maintaining image integrity.  It is a lesson I refer to over and over--making an image that the Art and Photography Directors, client, stylists and I can all be proud of.  It's hard work and always surprisingly stressful.  There are a lot of eyes and input on a shoot but the eyes I keep on myself are the most critical.

The red-eye flights are no fun.  Flying and being away from home and family is awful, but there is a flip side.  Kyle Evan's delicious Sliders, runs on the Mendocino Headlands, working with very talented people, and walking away from the shoot with all parties, including myself, pleased.  Whenever I question myself after a shooting, I recall that even Horst, the revered master, with whom I worked as an assistant, used to leave a shooting doubting or bemoaning some of the things he did or did not do. That's good company to be in.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Low Impact Entertaining

Imagine.  Forty plus guests for a backyard bbq and only ONE BAG OF TRASH!  People, it can be done.  Here's how we did it.  Ordered paper plates, napkins, bamboo forks, and compostable plastic cups from, a site that a friend had worked with for Bedford's Environmental Summit, and found them extremely responsive and accommodating (which should not be unique characteristics for a business, but somehow are!).  The napkins were 100% recycled, an attractive unbleached cafe au lait color, and compostable.  The bamboo forks were much more attractive than the corn starch plastic-looking ones, and compostable, too.  The plates, a nice shade of tan, which looked great against royal blue cloths, and coordinated well with the wooden folding chairs and tiki torches, were biodegradable and compostable.  Finally, plastic cups, but not the kind which will float around the Pacific for a thousand years or more, but compostable as well.  With the right array of well marked trash cans, one for food scraps and compostables, one for recycleables (the glass and plastic bottles) and one for straight trash, we ended the day with a load of future garden soil, and only one bag of future landfill.  Not bad. And a good time was had by all.

Monday, June 21, 2010

First Light

Consciousness comes like the first bird to sing with the earliest light of day.  A single thought plays in your mind.  You try to disregard it.  There are so many comfortable positions in which to sleep, and you try them all, but slumber, at least for this night, is history.  That one bird sings insistently, soon to be joined by another, then another and another until there is a full chorus playing outside and inside and you know that the only choice is to get up.  Maybe in a few hours, you can lie back down again and resume sleep, but for now, there is joyful work to be done and the body is eager to get at it.

Hours from now, we’re expecting over 60 people here to celebrate the high school graduation of our oldest boy with a backyard barbecue.  Our youngest is at a landmark place too, entering high school in the fall.  Our middle son will embark on the beginning of his college search as an 11th grader. A particular lyric from Joni Mitchell, who has put to words better than most the collective experiences of life, runs through the mind.  It’s from The Circle Game. “We’re captive on a carousel of time.  We can’t return we can only look behind from where we came and go round and round and round in the circle game.”  It’s the line about dragging “your feet to slow the circles down” that gets us.   Would that we could.  We know that we can’t.  Like the scene in the movie “Parenthood” in which Anne Archer and Steve Martin are caroming through a wild roller coaster ride, gripping tightly the bar before them, their faces at once a shifting blend of terror and exhilaration, we hang on and do our best to enjoy the ride.

Life is passing before us at a seemingly accelerating speed.  All the more reason to smell deeply of the roses, or the lilacs or the peonies or the honeysuckle…  All the more reason to stop and marvel at that one bird’s beautiful song.

Even the dogs out in the office can feel the energy in the air.  They’re howling to be released from their crates.  For us, there’s fruit to cut, vases to fill, skewers to thread, drinks to chill, meats to grill, and salad to toss. But for now, a moment to savor the growing chorus of birdsong welcoming the first light.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Joys of Working at Home

When you work at home you are your own boss.  You make your own hours, you can go to work in your pajamas, you can have your dogs with you all day, you can be there when your kids come home from school.  The hours can be crazy--early mornings and late nights.  The pajamas til noon can make you feel like an insane person.  The barking dogs can drive you mad.  The kids think you're just there to make them food and drive them places.  But, oh, when you really need it, there's no need to sneak a few minutes of shuteye at a desk out of sight of the boss. You're the boss, and if you need a little snooze, you go and take it, no questions asked.  Sweet self-employment.
Sweet summer afternoon

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Oh, The Humanities

While our oldest child, Zander, is off to Bonnarro this week,  he's entering Cornell at the end of summer to study liberal arts and the humanities.

Yesterday, David Brooks wrote a piece in the NY Times entitled, History for Dollars.
It opens, "When the going gets tough, the tough take accounting."  That's exactly what Bill did straight out of High School -- before transferring to art school.  

We think Brooks' piece is worth sharing.  When the going gets tough, we encourage the study of the humanities.

You can read Brooks' piece here.

Zander's shadow, above, in a photograph taken at the Temple of Aphaia in Aegina, Greece, 1993.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Our Sleeping Porch

With the onset of warm weather, we’ve moved our bedroom onto our screen porch.  We love how living right off the kitchen simplifies life as though we only needed these two spaces and a bathroom. It’s camping at its most luxurious.  We fall asleep listening to the peepers, owls, coyotes and other creatures that inhabit the woods behind our home—a symphony that lulls us on even the most restless nights.  We look forward to night time storms for the cool air, sound and light show. 

And talk about energy efficient.  No need for air conditioning--just a quietly whirring ceiling fan and those sweet cross breezes.

It helps that we're naturally early risers.  The the chorus of songbirds that begins at first light can be overwhelming.  It softens to gentler tweets as morning comes full on, and by that time, we're  up and about our business too.

When the nights start to chill, we’ll add blankets, then a down comforter, and finally an electric blanket.  That’ll get us well into November.  We will move back inside when we can no longer read at night without our hands freezing. 

For now, we’re waiting for the first Screech Owls to arrive—they are willing conversationalists when you know how to talk to them.  And sleeping outside has taught us how.

Monday, June 7, 2010

A Perfect Summer's Eve

A perfect summer's evening--The Saratoga Performing Arts Center to see The Dave Matthews Band.  The concert was great and the people watching, perfect! 

Friday, June 4, 2010

A Sucker for Kitschy Sweets

Now that my true nature as a dumpster diver has been revealed, I'll go ahead and make a further admission.  I'm a sucker for kitschy sweets.   Cotton candy, jelly apples, those orange marshmallow elephant peanuts, pixie stix, wax lips, Brown Bonnets, salt water taffy...  I could easily walk away from madeleines, biscotti, flourless chocolate cake--just about any grown-up and sophisticated dessert.  But show me a rocky road brownie, a perfect chocolate chip cookie, or anything constructed of Rice Krispies and marshmallows and I am first on line.  That's why I've fallen for these cookies I found in some magazine somewhere along the way:  Mini Hamburger Cookies.

More about assembling than actual baking, the cast of ingredients is as follows:

As the Hamburger, chocolate cookies (bake 'em tiny, to fit on a Nilla Wafer),
As the Bun, Nilla Wafers, with toasted sesame seeds affixed with a spot of egg wash
As the special sauce or ketchup, orangey or red colored frosting
As the lettuce, green dyed shredded coconut

These cookies are the opposite of organic, and they are surefire crowd pleasers.  Like Jiffy Pop Popcorn, they're more fun to make than they are to eat.  But, like Lay's Potato Chips, betcha can't have just one.

Now go ahead, build the perfect burger, and serve them at your next BBQ.  I'm going to figure out how to do hot dog cookies.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Faux That

Andrea is a proud dumpster diver.  Much of the furnishings in our homes were procured from places other than a store.  While we buy plenty, we love the thrill of the find at a tag sale, side of the road pick-up, or thrift store.  It's part of our reduce, re-use, recycle philosophy.

On a recent scout to one of her client's homes, the homeowner, artist Constance Olds, pointed to a car filled with all kinds of stuff  destined for the thrift store.  Andrea peered into the back seat, and spotted a small wooden table.  Constance originally purchased it at a thrift store to use as her daughter's drawing table, and had always intended to repaint it herself, but years later still hadn't gotten around to it, and now the daughter was adult sized.   Within hours of getting it home, we had it painted.

I love my dumpster diving momma!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

No Fraidy Cat, He

Our great friend, the guy who introduced the two of us, and a former student of Bill's, Brian English, told us a remarkable story.

Every day, Brian drives the 101 to his job at the Herb Ritts Foundation in LA.   Yesterday he saw a school bus in front of him stalled, with smoke billowing out.  Though he could see the bus was on fire and could hear screaming, he did not know there were 23 third graders trapped inside.  As most every car continued to pass, Brian stopped, kicked in the door of the bus, grabbed a fire extinguisher and with another passerby got the kids off the bus.  No one was injured.  We saw a photograph of the burned out vehicle in today's New York Times. 

Zander, our oldest son called him, "a champion" and told us, "we really know some great ones but Brian's an awesome one."  We bet his kids are proud!

He's also a wonderful photographer having worked as Robert Mapplethorpe's last assistant as well as for Richard Avedon and now for the Ritts Foundation.  You can see his work  here.  His photograph Amos (above) hangs in the entrance to our home.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Vacation Plans

Our travel plans for Greece are made.  A strong dollar will provide us with a bargain this year but there is another reason for going--the economic crisis.   In 2001, our Greek friend, Kostis, flew here to be with us after 9/11 and now, it's time for us to make sure we make this journey for his home.  It's our way to take a small part in a recovery.

An American ex-pat living in Santorini sent us a video on YouTube which is a call to action to settle this crisis and halt the speculating and hypocrisy.  We were impressed by Daniel Cohn-Bendit's brave call to The European Commission and Parliament for real resolve. We hope it's a catalyst for substantive action.  To heck with the Tea Party.  Give us a German styled Green Party!

To view the video you can click here.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

Simon, our 16 year old, gave this to Andrea for Mother's Day.  What more could a mother want?
Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

A Working Marriage

German Architectural Digest --one of the most beautiful magazines in the world-- just published the first story we've done together in 15 years.  Roughly translated as "Close to Poseidon" it's an exclusive feature on the 16,000 Euro per night Perivola's Hideaway in Greece and the result a brainstorm we had about working together.

When Andrea was a Contributing Editor to Martha Stewart Living, we worked on a number of stories--she writing and me photographing.  Once our kids were born, she began doing locations and while our freelance careers overlapped, it wasn't until last summer that we decided to try collaborating again.  We've planned a series of articles that we hope to continue this summer.  It's part of a bigger plan for the coming years as our kids start the moves to college and a return to our creative and collaborative roots.

We're both excited and proud.  Seeing the joint byline gave us a nice rush and yesterday we found out that two other publications--one in France and one in Italy-- will also pick up the story.  

If you'd like to read the text in English, let us know and we'll happily forward a copy.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Interesting....If True

Last Sunday, we saw a segment on CNN's Reliable Sources.  Hosted by Howard Kurtz, Reliable Sources is on after the Sunday morning talk shows. Among other things, it checks on the statements and stats politicians cite to help shore up the arguments they make.  Every statistic cited was either debunked or, at the least, could not be verified.

Last week, Cape Wind (the wind farm off  Cape Cod and that our family supports) was given the go ahead by the Federal Government.   Environmentalists celebrated but one NIMBYist, whose famous family compound faces the Nantucket Sound, called it a "$4 billion boondoggle and giveaway to big industry."  We wondered how, with the support of so many environmentalist organizations including the Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and NRDC not to mention the editorial boards of all the major newspapers, could that be?

This morning, our friend from Maine, Ben Swan quoted his great uncle, Harrison Tweed (whom we are assured really had that name) who would always say, "Interesting....if true."

Reliable Sources now has us asking questions about figures that get thrown out so trippingly -- particularly when the benefits are clear and that we thought this was the kind of project we, in the environmental movement, were waiting for.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Organic Marriages

We heard about another marital breakup today.  This news seems to be a common feature of our stage of life. To our own surprise, we woke up one metaphorical morning recently to find our marriage a much more complicated thing than we ever thought it could be.  We were the "perfect" couple, or so we were frequently told.  Maybe that was wishful thinking on someone's part, that there really is such a thing, like unicorns or great white whales.  The news would appear to be bleak, according to current figures.

We have come to learn that marriage is not a thing apart from us in which we dwell, but a living entity that demands the same nurturing, tending, and attention that a garden does in order to thrive and produce.  Leave a garden untended, and the weeds take over, the flowers go to seed, the lettuce turns bitter.  Our marriage is a good one, twenty years in the making, but we just figured out the garden analogy.  The friend of ours who just let us know his marriage ended mentioned that he and his partner had become roommates.  We'd heard that same line in the movie "Date Night."  It's an easy role to fall into.  Comfort is a great thing, but it can easily morph into numbness.   We've been making the extra effort to tend not only each other, but ourselves, even consulting a professional.  It's weeding time.

We're planting our garden and cleaning up from a stormy winter.  We're tending things outside and in.  We fell in love over 20 years ago for reasons we've recently decided to uncover and bring fully back to life, and even finding new reasons. It's spring.

Monday, April 26, 2010

A New Book

Three years ago, I came across a photograph I made  in Greece of olives on a branch.  It wasn't an image that would stand out, but it led me to take a new look at a body of work and gave me an idea for a new book.

I spent the next year editing images from dozens of trips to the country Andrea and I have been traveling to for 25 years.  Our kids have been to Greece so often that when they were younger they thought they were Greek.

My first book The Greek File / Images From a Mythic Land was published by Rizzoli in 2001 and sold well, considering it was a personal set of images done in black and white.  At the time, publishers told me that the market for a book like The Greek File was miniscule -- despite the fact that the country draws over 11 million tourists a year.   

My new book,  Hellas Photographs of Modern Greece will be published in Fall 2010 by Hudson Hills Press.  The introduction was written by Louis deBernieres, whose books include Captain Corelli's Mandolin and our favorite, Birds Without Wings.  It's common in the summer for our family to be buried reading on a quiet beach in the Aegean and usually there's one or two of deBernieres' books among the pile we carry. 

Book ideas are something I think about constantly, but most ideas briefly sizzle then fizzle for one reason or another.  For Hellas, it wasn't until Joanna Hurley, a book agent and packager, introduced me to David Skolkin, a book designer from Santa Fe, that the project became concrete.

David, Joanna, and Leslie Van Breene from Hudson Hills Press, the publisher, came to Bedford two weeks ago to discuss, review, edit and begin to sequence the images.  The advice of all three melded beautifully with my original concept for Hellas.  

Watching David pair images on the viewing board in our studio was magical -- it was like watching a musical arranger work with a score.  Moving small prints around and reviewing the flow beginning to end over and over for 8 hours was joy for me.  deBernieres, without prompting, wrote an introduction about how Greece  endured several horrendous decades of world war, civil war, military dictatorships and other crises yet went from a third world country into a proud member of the EU.  This was precisely what the book was for me and as deBernieres points out, many of the people I photographed had lived through the tumultuous birth of modern Greece.

All this effort has laid the groundwork for what will be a beautifully produced volume that started with a somewhat inconsequential image but we hope will become a substanative document of a place our whole family loves.

We'll post updates on the progress of the book as well as how you can pre-order a copy along with a one of a series of limited edition print over the next few weeks.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Advice For Parents of HS Juniors

It’s April.  By now, most high school seniors are wearing sweatpants emblazoned with the name of their future alma mater.  Juniors are sweating through their first stabs at the SATs or ACTs.  Their parents of both are sweating over the thought of paying for all those sweatpants, sweatshirts and tuitions.

We’re happily finished with our first run through the college applications gauntlet.  On December 10th, thanks to Early Decision, Zander became a Cornellian, class of 2014.

Here’s a short list of what we learned, and what can help you as you enter this fraught time.

1. You will drive yourselves crazy, no matter how many times people tell you it’s all going 
to work out fine.  We remember going to sleep obsessing and waking up still swirling.  To talk 
me down, we’d call friends who had a kid a year ahead of ours.  They’d tell us:  RELAX!  
It all works out in the end.  Even a "wrong" decision is remediable.  Transfers are fairly common!

2.  Start by looking at schools not too far from home just as practice. With every visit, you 

and your child learn something about what you'd like and what you'd not like in a school.  
You start to trust your response to a place.  Places you are sure you won't like can often 
surprise you.  Places you expect to love, you may not feel anything for. 

3.  Have your guidance counselor come up a with a list of possibilities based on your 

child’s profile.  That less subjective list is one you can cross reference against  your own 

4.  Is there a Naviance program that your school subscribes to?  It is an amazing search 

engine.  You answer a long series of questions and it gives you a list of matching schools.  
Then you can plot your child on their acceptance graph to see how he/she stacks up.  It 
shows how other students from your school did in applying to a certain school, and what 
kind of profile they had.

5.  If the SATs are not a strength for your kid, consider the ACTs with writing.  It's an easier 

test for many, and most of the schools, including the top ones, accept it interchangeably 
now.  One of the benefits is you don't have to take a math SAT2, as it works as an 
achievement test.

6.  One of the things they tell you when you go to the various lectures they give to junior 

and senior parents:  don't base your judgement of a school on what it was like when you 
were in high school.  That's a really long time ago!!

7.  Decisions made as a junior can be turned over once they’re well into their senior year. 

That maturation that happened over the year can yield a whole different set of responses.

8. Every one says it so it must be true, that if your child don't get into a place, he/she didn't 

belong there.  They end up quickly forgetting that they ever did want to go there, and 
embraces the school that chooses him.

9. It's early April.  You have until next November to get applications in, and that's for early 

decision.  Keep moving towards the prize, but don't pressure yourselves to come up with a 
definite list yet.  It really has to evolve. 

10.  Early Decision.  It pressures you in the Fall, but boy is it nice to be done with the 
process by mid December.  You also save money by not sending out a million applications!  
If you don't get in,  you kid can have those other applications ready to go.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

On Tour with Hasselblad and RETV

I was recently asked by Resource TV and Magazine
to demonstrate the newest Hasselblad camera, the H4D-40 and
The Broncolor Scoro lighting system on the NYC leg of their
Stage Three Tour at Milk Studios. 
Resource produced a video of the event which
you can view here.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Getting Personal on Shoots

Personal photographs come from a lot of places.

Most of the images in my new book (Hellas, Photographs of Modern Greece / Hudson Hills Press) came from shoots done over a 15 year period for Conde Nast Traveler.  On a commercial or editorial shoot, I'm always looking for photographs to make for myself--to complete or continue a body of portfolios that are often, ongoing, life long projects.

On a shoot I did this week for Ralph Lauren Home, I was fascinated by a crystal skull that Ralph Lauren offers.  Natalie Han, the Art Director, John Davison, the Stylist, and I collaborated on a small still life trying to make the skull work but in the end decided to use something else.

It's a great object.  Someone on the shoot said it looked like something a wealthy rock star would own.  It reminded me of a Robert Mapplethorpe self-portrait done shortly before he died as well as still lifes of his and Irving Penn's.  It reminded me of a lot of things.   After we were done with the photograph we needed to make, I decided to make the skull mine.  It might work with a series of images I'm making called Flesh+Bones.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Our Favorite Frame

We found this frame at a flea market in Paris a few years ago.   It's made of white pine and was unpainted when we bought it.  We added a few coats of white high gloss Schreuder Paint -- a paint we first noticed on the doors in Santorini.

A frame should neutralize the surrounding area and highlight the image. The wide face, rounded profile and raised moulding of this frame is a simple design but adds great dimension to a photograph.
We've just gotten a router and miter saw to see if we can build ones in various sizes using this frame as a template.  

We've collected frames for years-- loading up the car with finds at yard sales often paying as little as a dollar each.  We'll then sand and paint them in a uniformed color and hang them in a salon style.  It's a wonderfully inexpensive and beautiful way to display art that we'll talk about soon.  

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Another Medium

With three children, we've recorded hours and hours of video over the last 18 years.   We only viewed it in bits until Andrea came up with a great idea.

When each of the kids turned 13, she  painstakingly edited the best clips from from the many hours compiled.  She then took those clips to the daughter of a friend who had editing experience (her dad's a director so she grew up with cameras, sound and editing tools around her).

With the addition of music (one of Andrea's many passions), well-edited sequencing and pacing, the resulting 20 minute DVDs are prized parts of the family history which we now view regularly and the kids continue to be proud of.  While it did take a lot of time and commitment to cull the clips, the hours of laughing and tears that came from Andrea as she poured through the tapes was a bonus.

I recently got Apple's I-movie and started shooting video clips with my Leica D-Lux 4.  This compact camera fits into my pocket and has allowed me to not only take stills but to record reasonably good quality video.  Granted, I'd not use the Leica on a commercial shoot but having this small camera with me allows me to make images I'd otherwise not have gotten.

Last week, on a warm spring evening, Simon and I made a short video out on our lawn.  We developed a story extemporaneously and shot ten minutes of video that was edited in a few hours over a weekend on I-movie.  You can watch the video called Boy and Bird, here.

I'm shooting video for various reasons--to keep documenting my family and for professional purposes.    The successful introduction this week of the I-pad and Conde Nast's committment to producing online editions of several of its titles is proof of a publishing revolution in progress.  Wired Magazine and Adobe recently produced a short film about the changing landscape of publishing.  It's exciting, eye-opening, and impetus to keep me working with video. 

Monday, March 29, 2010

Dominique Browning's Losing it.

On an interiors shoot, mourning changes and losses in the shelter magazine world is a continuous conversation.

No magazine's loss seems to elicit more emotion than that of House and Garden.  In this past Sunday's New York Times Magazine, former H+G editor Dominique Browning wrote a beautiful piece on her life after the publication closed.  It's an excerpt from “Slow Love: How I Lost My Job, Put on My Pajamas and Found Happiness,” to be published next month by Atlas & Co.

You can read this great excerpt here.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Family History

I've photographed each of our three kids since the first was born 18 years ago.  I don't always have a camera in hand and have on more than one occasion had to acknowledge I was sorry to miss photographing a moment but I learned to settle myself by acknowledging that I was glad to, at least, see the moment. 

Each year I take take time to continue this series of photographs and when we moved into our house in Bedford nearly 14 years ago, we started hanging the images along the walls between our and the kid's bedrooms.  There are images of each of our three children--in equal proportion--uniformly printed, matted and framed.  I use a frame by Nielsen Bainbridge called Profile 33 in contrast grey.  Because of all the changes in photographic media, there's a wide array of print types.  Some are gelatin silver with newer images made on an Epson Stylus 9800 printer on Cranes Silver Rag Museo Fine Art paper.  Museo has gelatin silver print qualities and allowing us to match the older prints not only in color but in tone.

While there's numerous ways to display images like this,  we love the uniformity along this small hallway.   There's a thrill in seeing our history every day and each year the history grows.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Talented Ripley Swan

Between Zander's college application process and our normal work and parenting schedule, we disappeared.  

Zander got into Cornell Arts + Sciences and his great friend and Pine Island Camp Alum, Rippy, got into Tufts -- both, early decision.  Today, The New York Times did a story featuring the talented Rippy Swan's You Tube video application.   We have to say, we're not surprised.  The Swan's are great people and Pine Island's a remarkable program.  We often say that if the world's to be saved it'll come from someone who went to PIC.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Summer Photographs in January

I still shoot film.  Processing the film, making contact sheets, editing, and then scanning and printing is time consuming.  We often don't get to see the completed body of work I do during our family summer trips until mid winter.  It's a great time of year to work on our ongoing family history--the framed images that line the hallway of our home and cover the 18 years of our kid's lives.  I love the speed and ease of digital image making but this slow process is like a wonderful alchemy and the richness of these silver images cannot be matched by pixels.  Matting, framing, sequencing, and hanging the images are next and we'll show you how we do that over the next few entries.

Friday, January 1, 2010