Living in New York, I got my first 35mm SLR camera, a Fujica STX-1, in 1982 and used it mainly to shoot Kodachrome slides. The results were beautiful sometimes and very easy to achieve. But color as a subject did not really appeal. I loved the impact of black-and-white photos: Richard Avedon, Robert Frank, Walker Evans, Man Ray, Andre Kertesz, Edward Steichen, and Berenice Abbott all made powerful, urbane images that affected me enormously; vivid, sly, wide ranging, and wonderfully defined. So in 1983 I took a night class to learn how to shoot and develop black-and-white film at the International Center of Photography, the rather brash institution then run by Cornell Capa, the ex-Magnum photographer and Robert Capa’s brother, housed in a former mansion just off upper 5th Avenue.
I’m pleased to see now that this early work is okay, the effort of someone interested in registering memorable impressions of the world. The tentative nature of my progress is noted in how few pictures I made at any one time — notes-in-passing, a mix of intended gems and lucky accidents, and not articulate statements of time and place. But my magazine job kept me pretty occupied at the time, and I was certainly not set-up to process a lot of film in the bathroom I shared with a roommate in a small Manhattan apartment. I still needed to learn how to give myself the time and space to get the best shot. (cont.)