Those 70's Photos
New York City, 1976-1979
I was in college in 1976 when a talented photography professor named Herb Goro invited me to spend the summer taking intensive two-week workshops in photography at the Germain School of Photography in New York, where he was running a summer program. He was especially interested in my taking a master workshop with either Lisette Modell or Garry Winogrand, and helped guide my to the fateful decision to study with Winogrand.
Three days into the class, Garry's odd teaching methods winnowed the class down to about a dozen students, less than half the number of those who started. But I saw something going on in his photos, which he showed us during those first days, that spoke to me. We hit the streets, I studied how he approached people and took pictures of them at point-blank range without their noticing or caring. I immediately started shooting, and through the next three years my output was prolific. Some of it was even fairly good.
I recently decided to go through my boxes of old prints to see which photos from this era stood the test of time, then spent some quality time scanning the prints and preparing the scanned images for the web.
At first, when I was taking the workshop, I shot with a Canon FTBn SLR and a Vivitar 24mm lens (sample image to the right), because that's what I had. But that produced too much distortion near the edges of the frame. I eventually replaced that setup with a tiny Rollei 35, and once I could afford one, a Leica M3 with a 50mm lens at first (see shot below), then a 35mm. I shot in those days mostly on Kodak Tri-X, although by 1979 I was shooting with Ilford HP5, pushing it to ISO 800 and developing it in Edwal FG7, a combination that produced a soft, iridescent grain structure that may not be easy to see at screen resolution.
Some of the prints were made on textured paper and I tried mightily to fix that in the scanning process. But in some cases I had to make certain compromises to produce the best screen image possible where the original negative was hard to find. I did whatever I could digitally to mitigate the fact that I wasn't a terribly experienced printer at the time I made the original prints.
By the way...if you look at this image, behind the head of the woman on the left, about 20 yards away, is my teacher, Garry Winogrand. It's hard to see it in this version, but on the print it's clear that he's looking right at me. And he's smiling.
I hope you enjoy this little time capsule as much as I did putting it together!