Photo Blog Sept 2001

Sept 2, 2001

I don’t have anything new to put here, so here are some excerpts from e-mails received pertaining to the Agora show — the first one is from my friend Andy who hitchhiked with me through Canada when we were both 19 and who I hadn’t seen in 10 years.

Andy writes

“Good quote by Jacques Barzun discussing the romantic movement and imagination in particular:

Out of the known or knowable, Imagination connects the remote, reinterprets the familiar, or discovers hidden realities. Being a means of discovery, it must be called ‘Imagination of the real.’

“These qualities pertain to the photos you chose for the show, especially reinterpreting the familiar.

“We are born romantics, you and I. I think if you decided to press the Travelocity button and did the night ferry crossing to St. John again, you would still see a necklace of light on the bosom of darkness… [One of us had written a poem that night about the crossing to St. John comparing the lights in the darkness to a shining necklace… I thought that I had written it, but Andy thinks he wrote it.]

Dreamers never die.”

* * *

These excerpts are from J.C. who visited the gallery a day or two after the show:

“I went to see your prints at the Agora Gallery… I got off at the 5th floor first. After looking around, I finally saw your orphan print. Too bad it was displayed in such a poor location, it looked like an interesting print. The girl at the desk on the 5th floor mentioned that more of your work was upstairs. we went to 6 and I really enjoyed your prints. The detail in Promenade blew me away! There is something special about a photograph taken with a view camera. I was glad that I didn’t come on Thursday night. Although it would have been nice to have met you, today I was able to look at your prints undisturbed; the gallery was empty.”

[Afterwards he walked outside and saw other street vendors selling prints where the same vantage point was used to shoot the Promenade]

“… At another street vendor selling B&W photos, they had their Promenade
print. After seeing yours, their print looked terrible. The more we looked
at your print, the more ‘little’ details we saw. It is a very beautiful print.”

* * *
In those days — Promenade, Marsh etc. I used to feel that the very good prints used the tonal range to reveal some secret, or more exactly to draw you in to some secret world. It was the same world we saw every day — but good prints would reveal something. The tonal range, from the edge of blackness to the edge of visibility in the high tones were on the verge of imagination. I was always fascinated by fog, and storms, because of the way that they through a veil over the ordinary. I have seen ‘Turtle Pond’ in Central Park hundreds of times. But the only print that made it into my imagination, was that day that they were firing cannons across the lake for July 4th — and the mist obscured the Pagoda across the pond. Images that through a veil over the so-called real world, might reveal another world. The world of your own imagination.

I have felt the same thing about Shadows! As if the shadow in ‘Steps of the Met’ is the alter-ego the fellow walking up the stairs. And I haven’t changed all that much. I realize now that when I was walking around taking pictures of ‘stoops’ and corners of broken down edifices — it was the shadows cast that fascinated me. In ‘Flat Iron and Equitable’ it is the brooding form of the Flat Iron on the right against the barely visible lit tower of the Equitable building that fascinated.

The only thing that has changed through the years is that sometimes I feel that I can achieve the same effect without the help of a storm, or nature. ‘Strange Highway’ or ‘Man Blanket’. The mystery of the real. Or the ”Imagination of the real.’

* * *

In terms of the history of photography, I wonder whether this isn’t really a throwback to the old Pictorialists that were so disliked by Adams and Weston (although Weston had his brush with pictorialism). The guys who liked to photograph everything through veils — and tried to emulate painters. One of my latest pictures — Tree and Sprinkler was actually a conscious (sp?) attempt to emulate Seurat…

* * *


I think it has taken a few days for me to recover mentally from the gallery show. And now I’m ready to vent a little. I really wasn’t sleeping well for a day or two before the show, and didn’t sleep well for a day or two after the show.

My feelings this morning are about the great chain of money and artist and how they can embrace each other or spiral down into oblivion together.

Truthfully, it often seems to me that it is very easy to tell someone how wonderful or beautiful their work is — but these same people often don’t realize the connection between that thought, and buying something. In other words, by actually purchasing a print, you are not only paying a very real compliment — but you are helping the artist to create new works. You vote with your wallet.

So everyone walks away from the opening with a grand feeling of having seen Dave as a semi-center of attraction. How many people walked up to me and said ‘How proud the were of me.’ But let us speak of other things besides boosts to the other’s ego — let’s speak of brass tacks, and farthings…

Fee for the privledge of hanging 5 prints — $1850
Other fees for cards, etc. — $200
Total Cost: say $2000

$2000 to have a bunch of people look at 5 pictures. Now one picture sold — and my guess is that is all that will sell. The gallery takes a 40% commission from $600 so I get $360.

$2000 – $360 = $1640.

That means that at the very least — this little show has cost me $1640. I could rent an apartment for a month and show all my pictures there for that sort of money.

So what are you really paying for? Exposure? I have no idea who other than my own friends and family were there. Were there any art critics there? Any photography collectors? If anyone like that was there, they didn’t introduce themselves. I suspect that this was just a chance to get out of the house for a night and say that you were at an opening reception.

(btw — thank you to one or two people who bought smaller prints off the web after seeing the prints at the show. i need to put that into the equation.)

In short — this sort of thing is worth it the first time — to get the experience. But next time, I would never pay an upfront fee, and I would make sure that I could have more space! Maybe, as a friend suggested, I should get a couple of other photographers together and organize our own show. Sort of feels like those old Mickey Rooney movies? Hey! Let’s put on a show!

* * *


The journal seems to be filling with quotes from emails lately, probably because I don’t feel I have anything much to say. Here is part of an email from D.P. in Great Britain. I sent him ‘Card Players’ which he had ordered, and then as a surprise threw in ‘Bike’ on RC paper. I think I like to put in an extra print for the overseas buyer because I feel they are paying for the postage, and an unmounted RC print doesn’t weigh much and is a nice surprise.

“Thanks for the prints, safely received today. It was kind of you to send me the extra print.
I can see why you like it [Bike] , the quality is superb. Interesting to find that it was printed on RC paper – I don’t think you could improve it on any other paper. Having been making prints for more years than I care to think about, I have used most papers in my time. I have always been sceptical about the resin vs fibre argument. It is my contention that the material is not important, it is the skill and care of the printer that matters. Top quality work can be produced on RC papers as well as fibre…”

The only real reason that I switched recently from RC paper to Fiber paper, even for the ‘Open Editions’ is that I think the fiber paper will last longer, and I like the finish better. I also think the blacks are a bit richer. But it is absolutely true that you can make very fine prints on RC paper (so long as it’s not that thin glossy junk they give you at the local one hour lab) and it does save a lot of time in terms of processing and washing.

It’s funny because it’s such a big thing in the fine art world — are those prints fiber or RC? But for the average person, I’m not really sure they would know the difference.

Here’s something that my friend B.Q. suggested — he thought some people might be interested in seeing my contact sheets. Why? I’m not sure, but he seemed to think it might give people an idea of how I shoot.

Well, why not. Recently I’ve been scanning my negatives in order to make contact sheets rather than doing them in the darkroom. I don’t have the process down exactly because I don’t like to put the negatives in the negative holder (they can get dust on them, and I can’t fit an entire roll into the negative carrier) — so I lie them down on the flatbed, but set the thing to use the negative transparency unit. In short, the contacts don’t lie entirely flat and are slightly bowed, but good enough for me to have an idea of what is worth doing a print of.

So here’s a recent one: 9-03-01b

The date is the day the film was processed by me. The notes on the top are about how it was developed. The problem with showing contact sheets on the web is that the file size would need to be very big in order for you to real see anything much in them.

3:40pm — There must have been something in my coffee this morning. I knocked out 28 fiber prints which are now crowding the washer in the bathroom. And three or four are new things. There’s one of the pigeons flying around me that actually has some character to it. I’ve tried this shot about fifty times through the years, but this is the first print that has a nice pattern or randomness and there’s the train tracks in the background leading to nowhere. Yes. I like this one. Let’s see what it looks like when it dries.

Here’s another contact sheet where I’ve actually printed something from it that is on the site — #9 — Wall and Pipe.

* * *

9 PM — Ordered a lightweight folding table. This is part of my new scheme. Stay tuned…

* * *


Ed Begley in Twelve Angry Men

“You’re like everyone else. You think too much, you get mixed up. Know what I mean?”

* * *


The time is fast approaching when I will need to decide whether to return from my unpaid leave of absence to the dark world of corporate advertising. In point of fact, that date is etched in stone — Sept. 21st. True, there was a flurry of sales at the end of August — but they petered out. Coming as they did through the web site, I remember writing at the time that since I had no idea why they were happening then, they’d probably die off and they have.

You know, the site itself, between processing charges for the credit cards, and my isp and my nice cable modem, costs about $150 per month. Just to pay for that means that I’ve got to gross at least $225 per month.

Remember the last scene in ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’? Butch (Newman) and Sundance (Redford) are badly shot up, and are reloading — and about to go out and face the Mexican federales? And Butch tries to tell Sundance that he has another scheme. Sundance is fed up with Butch’s schemes. But finally asks what it is, and Butch talks about Australia. They speak English there. And, oh, the place is filled with banks, just waiting to be robbed.

Well, I’ve got another scheme that has been in the works for a while. It’s not Australia — it’s the Met. For years, I’ve been toying with the idea of setting up a stand in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Fifth Avenue. And now — as the Gallery shows and the web have not panned out — at least not enough to live off — this idea came back to me. It happened on one of those mornings, as I was returning from Central Park. I noticed a fellow photographer selling prints outside the Museum. I remembered his face from almost five years ago when I had first contemplated doing this. M. is selling truly beautiful fiber prints — not framed — but in archival mats. And he told me that it was quite possible to make a living doing this. That recently, a court battle over the rights of artists to sell on the streets of NYC had been won — that it had been declared an expression of free speech (possibly by the Supreme Court) — and that nowadays, the cops were not hassling you at all, so long as you were the artist.

So, that’s the idea behind the aluminum table. And now I’m about to embark on a big printing session, geared towards this locale. I should be ready either this weekend, or next at the latest.

Off we go into the darkroom to knock out another twenty 8 x 10’s of Promenade, and one or two other prints that would be popular with tourists. I need to find out before the 21st deadline, whether this idea is feasible — but I will tell you that if I have the least bit of luck, I think it will work out.

* * *

Transcript from recent phone conversation between me and an old friend.

Friend: Hi. I didn’t think you were going to pick up.

Me: Why?

Friend: You know, you’ve got that caller i.d. and I always show up as unknown or something.

Me: I figured I’d take a chance that you weren’t a salesman.

Friend: Actually, I was thinking of trying to sell you something.

Me: Forget it, buddy.

Friend: Actually, just called to say ‘hi’.

Me: Hi.

Friend: I’m just looking at your home page.

Me: Yes?

Friend: Something looks wrong.

Me: Hmmm.

Friend: Did you know that the fonts are mixed up? You are using different fonts on the home page.

Me: I didn’t know that.

Friend: Aren’t you using a style sheet.

Me: Yep.

Friend: Hmm. That’s strange, it seems like the fonts near the ‘New Picture’ area are different.

Me: I’ll tell you something, I could care less.

Friend: Also, when you click on the picture it should take you to the same picture in the new area.

Me: Why. Who says so?

Friend: (Laughing) You know it should.

Me: If you want to see that picture, you’re going to have to hunt for it.

Friend: That’s crazy.

Me: Hey, I had to walk the streets of NYC for 50 years to find that manhole cover…you could click a couple of times to find it.

Friend: Oh, there it is. I really like that one. And the one with the flag is good too. I didn’t think you were political.

Me: I’m not.

Friend: But its a picture of a flag.

Me: Yep.

Friend: I like the way the light is coming through where the stars are. And you know what I really like, the windows in the background, they look like stars also.

(phone rings in the background on his end)

Friend: I’ll call you back.

Me: Okay.

* * *

8:30 pm — Busy day. Did about 40 prints today (fiber). That was tedious indeed, although I did get a better print of FDR Night than in the past. I’m going out to get a mocha frap as a treat.


Matting and getting ready to go and stand outside the Met with my prints. I’m almost ready now, but probably won’t do ’til Sunday. Since I’m walking over there, about six blocks — the setup has to be pretty lightweight. I hope the aluminum table I got won’t blow away in the wind.

Not very glamorous the prospect of selling on the sidewalk — but I’m determined to give it a try. You don’t have the overhead of the galleries — and you have more control over your display and what you show.

Here’s a weird thing. My sister’s car was stolen and stripped. Of course in NYC that’s not the weird part. What was strange was that the car was actually found and it was on Featherbed Lane and University Avenue in the Bronx. That’s where I grew up and went to grade school. Featherbed Lane got its name because during the revolutionary war, Washington’s soldiers slept out there. I guess on featherbeds. There was a churh on the hill, where a bunch of kids once tried to toss me over the wall into the courtyard which was a 20 foot drop. I guess things haven’t changed all that much up there.


Took a stroll out to the Met this morning at 8:30am. All the vendors were already set up, well almost all of them. Tomorrow, I will go out there at 7 a.m. Hope that’s early enough.

Interesting — last week the site received 23,000 page views. That is a new record. But no sales during that week from the site.

From an email during that week:

“I just wanted to let you know that even that I do not yet own any of your work, I absolutely love it. Your photos are just gorgeous. Thank you sharing your work with us all. ”

* * *

Back from ‘the Met’. In a nutshell. Very promising. I sold about $300 worth of prints. What I learned on the first day was that there are really two crowds out there — souvenier hunters, and people who want original art. Here are the prints as I remember it, that sold — Card Players, Empty Subway Car, Paris Wedding, Girl with Ball, Window…

I don’t remember the other ones. My display was pretty bad and I was situated between two portrait painters which I don’t think was a good idea. But the surprising thing was that none of the smaller prints at $20 sold. Almost all prints that sold were in the larger sizes. Compared to selling on the web — it was fantastic. You could show the work that you liked and chat with people about it. I was out pretty early — about 6:45am. And of course nothing gets started until about 10pm. But all in all, very promising.

Next step is to print larger prints, figure out how to get them there, and stay away from the more usual shots.

9 – 10 – 01

So yesterday may have been a turning point. I asked one or two people who bought things what caught their eye as they walked by my little table — and they all said, “Your stuff was different.” In other words, there were people, maybe a small group, but they were looking for something original and different. And the people who were able to hold the prints and talk about what they liked about them — and mystery of mystery, these were the same things I liked about them.

I had thought that I would need to go out there with pictures of the Statue of Liberty and the Empire State Building — but this was not true. Compared to my two gallery shows — these people were more appreciative. No wine. No cheese.

What turned things around, was when the wind started to blow around 4pm. My prints were starting to blow around, and I decided to simplify the display even more. I took off the grid I was using to hold up one picture. I removed many of the pictures from the table, and just put one picture flat in the middle. But my little sign about myself got more exposure that way. And people began to stop by.

Today, I go back into work (the advertising job for a few hours as a consultant) but I think I can go back in a position where I can begin to think seriously about not returning. After two years of selling sporadically through the web — this was a revelation.

One other thing that impressed me — how friendly and helpful the other vendors were to me, especially the other fellow — Miguel who was selling fine art photographs. Several people arrived at my table after buying prints from him, and then plucked down money for my prints as well.

Now what happens during the winter months — I have no idea. How many days you need to stand out there to make the rent. I’m not sure. But I’m very encouraged. And oh yeah — there was even a nice order through the web when I got home. Another thing – selling at the prices I’m sellling at, I’m really going to have to buckle down and start cutting my own mats — something that I’ve never quite gotten the hang of. I’ve been buying my mats from LightImpressions — which are pretty expensive.

* * *

Got a few shots back from the Agora show — thanks Bob — here they are:

* * *


What a horror. The World Trade Center is destroyed. I was at home — one hundred or so blocks away — peacefully answering some emails. My sister calls and asks if I had heard what happened. No. She says that we are under attack. That NYC is under attack. I say — c’mon. You’re kidding. She asks if I have the t.v. turned on. I go and turn the set on and see the replay of the plane crashing into the tower. She asks me to come over, but of course I grab my camera and tell her I’ll stop by in a little while. I walk out to the East River, and start walking downtown. You can, of course see the plume of smoke from the downtown area. There is no real panic, but there is a kind of heightened awareness between New Yorkers. You hear bits of conversations… that other planes are on the way. That there might be an atomic bomb…

They keep comparing this to Pearl Harbor, but its really not the same since you don’t really know who did it — and even if you did — its not a country (is it?). As a life-long New Yorker — I can only hope that the bastards behind this can be caught and destroyed.

I keep walking until I get to the 59th street bridge. I end up spending a few hours wandering around — realizing that this is a day that is different from any other day in my life or the life of the city. The closest feeling is how I felt as a kid when Kennedy was shot. Something very important and tragic has happened.

I spend some time at my sisters. Neighbors stop by. Everyone is very helpful. Lines are long at the stores. The ATM machines are out of cash. But on the upper east side, the restaurants and bars are packed. People don’t hide in their houses. They want to be out with others.

After wandering around by the river, I go to the 59th street bridge and spend an hour or so there — you can see the plume which looks like something from Hiroshima. There are hords of people crossing the bridge on foot to get back into Queens. Finally, foot weary and out of film, I walk back to 2nd avenue and get picked up by a cab which is already full of people and take it back to the house. I notice, that for the first time in my life, the little Indian-run deli where I usually get my iced-coffee and bagel is closed up.


Walked down to Canal street, which was as close as I could get to the disaster. Even a day later, it was difficult to stay there too long without wearing a mask to breathe through. Broadway downtown was empty, desolate, and you could see all the way down to where the WTC used to be. I took many pictures of people with their hands covering their mouths to screen out the dust. The most amazing thing I saw, as I was starting to walk uptown — there were about fifty Chinese crowded around a newspaper that was plastered to the wall. It was the kind of thing I remember seeing in pictures of China. And as I was stooping down, a young woman arrived with a newborn baby and joined the crowd. This was a fantastic image — and as I walked away, I just thought about the irony of the destruction, and the new life that was in front of me and hoped carefully placed that roll of film in my bag.


Have been receiving numerous emails from around the world offering empathy for what has happened. Have also received a few requests for pictures of the WTC. I have a few, but I can tell you that the idea of offering them for sale gives me the creeps. But I imagine that there are plenty of postcard companies increasing their production of their WTC pictures.

This, from D. in the U.K.


I hope that you have escaped the terrible attack on your city. I was a young child in London during the blitz and so the scenes bring back unhappy memories of the terror of that time. Also I worked in London at the time of the IRA bomb attacks. Although these were not as devastating the effect on people is the same. I hope that everyone learns the lesson not to support terrorists of any kind in any way.

All of us over here have the people of New York in our thoughts, ”

* * *

Many emails quoting from the Bible — or mentioning God. I had a conversation with my dad about this yesterday. He was a young soldier during WWII and took part in the liberation of at least one concentration camp at the end of the war. How, he wondered was it possible, that so many of the survivors were still able to believe in God. Or in modern terms, how was it possible that men could kill innocent civilians on Sept. 11th — in the name of their God?

I respect anyone’s belief in their faith, but am also unable to understand all of the terrible things that have been done in the name of God. I understand that it is in the very nature of religion that it cannot be rationally understood — that is what faith is about. I also understand the answer that is given by religious authorities, that these evil things that are done are not done by God, but by man. It seems as if the good things are attributed to God and the bad things to man. But there is evil in the world, and it has often been done in God’s name. Tremendous good has also been done in God’s name.

I guess I believe that the fault lies not in the stars, but in ourselves.

Anyway, towards the end of my conversation with my dad, I said — if you took away religion, people would still find ways to hate each other. The north would hate the south. The blond-haired people would hate the dark-haired people. Or, as in a Jonathan Swift story, the people who broke the hard-boiled egg at the fat side would go to war with the others who broke the egg at the thin side. Or the black/white episode in the early Star Trek series. Do you remember that one? There are two humanoid aliens who have been at war with each other for centuries. Both are half black and half white — split vertically from head to toe. To Kirk, they both look the same. He can’t understand what they are fighting about. Finally he asks them what is different about them? Frank Gorshin says — “Captain, isn’t it obvious?”

Kirk looks at both men. He can’t see the difference. Frank Gorshin says, “Why Captain, I am colored black on my right side and white on the left. That traitor is black on the left and white on the right!”

* * *


Today, the city is filled with flags. With people who are holding pictures of their loved ones. The smoke still rises from the twisted metal. The enormity of what has happened is sinking in. My first reactions, probably those of a photo-journalist — were to get out and cover the story. But that is fading, and my thoughts turn to what will happen next. My hope, my agnostic’s prayer, is that in the retribution that must be exacted, that we as a people do not sink to the level of the killers that we abhor. I have heard friends calling for the destruction of entire countries and peoples. As I walk through the city, I have heard snippets of dialogue — anger and rage — and remarks about turning the mountainous country of Afghanistan into a flat place.

In short — and this is tricky — returning evil for evil will be a disaster. Yet the country must be protected, and aggression must be met with strength.
But I do fear that the world as we know it, will not be the same.

* * *

From CNN:

Taliban Supreme Leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, has said, “…The Taliban have isolated bin Laden and have taken away his fax machine, satellite phone, cell phone, computers, and his Internet access.”

I would strongly suggest that they also turn him over to the U.S.


Someday I hope to be able to use a lot of the quotes from these journals…

Here are a few good ones from Cartier-Bresson, who, did very few interviews, and yet is quoted widely.

“Avoid making a commotion, just as you wouldn’t stir up the water before fishing. Don’t use flash out of respect for the natural lighting, even when there isn’t any. If these rules aren’t followed, the photographer becomes unbearably obstrusive.” – HCB

“Memory is very important, the memory of each photo taken, flowing at the same speed as the event. During the work, you have to be sure that you haven’t left any holes, that you’ve captured everything, because afterwards it will be too late.” – HCB

I can’t tell you how many times I walked away from that moment, replaying it again and again.

Spent last night walking around the city — where candles were lit everywhere. This morning, visited one of the emotional epicenters — Union Square. Many religious groups out there using this opportunity to recruit — Jehovah’s Witnesses etc. I ended the morning sitting down with some Tibetan monks and meditating. I took a few pictures. Afterwards, one of the followers asked me if I would send her pictures, which I said I would. I can tell you that after a few hours at Union Square — I felt that many of my previous pictures posted on this site were trivial.

I’ve put a few preliminary photos that have been taken since Sept. 11 on the site — but these are not actual prints. And the scanning quality is not what it should be since my negative scanner has been busted for sometime and I’ve scanned these negatives in via a flatbed scanner — by placing a sheet of glass on top of the negs. and using the transparency setting. It’s okay for proofs, but not much more. Still, a number of people had asked to see what I’ve been up to so I posted them.

As I was taking them, I was thinking about the difference between the normal type of shooting I do — and this shooting. And the difference is that many times I asked myself, “If you didn’t know anything about the WTC, would you know what this shot was about?” And the answer to most of the shots I’ve taken is no. You need to have a few lines of text explaining the context. In other words, some title, or description is needed.

I’m not saying this is a bad thing, it’s just something that was spinning around in my mind, when many of the photographs were taken, and after when examining them. I wasn’t always thinking this way — the shot of the two Chinese women who are staring at me was taken quickly and without much thought — just something about the way they were standing, and the man on the left covering his mouth. Why it is that I am drawn to covering the Chinese, or the Japanese, or the monks from Tibet (I haven’t developed that film yet), or the Indians rather than the so called average American — I don’t know. Maybe its because of my own feelings of being an outsider, somewhat alienated from the normal business of America. Maybe its being a Jew in the United States. Maybe I ate too much Chinese food in the Bronx growing up. I am told that some of the first meals I ate were at a Chinese restaurant. When I go to get my morning coffee or tea, I go to a little Indian-run deli on the corner. Normally, there are many cab-drivers there in the morning, with the turbans — and I guess they are Sikhs — which I don’t even know how to spell. But lately they have all disappeared. Have they decided to remove their turbans? If I were religious and wore a Yalmulka (sp?)– would I remove it because it made me a target? Probably.

I notice that the small arab-run grocery has put a gigantic American flag in the window. But the store is mostly empty these days.

2:30 PM

Just returned from picking up my pictures at the Agora Gallery. Everything was pretty normal on the way down. I was in the building for about ten minutes. When I came downstairs, smoke was pouring from the subway on Prince street and Broadway — and there were a few fire trucks around. I lugged my five framed prints around to get closer and took a few one-handed pictures. People were standing around watching — but it was no big deal. I heard someone say let’s go get a Frap and they went into the nearby coffee shop.

On the way downtown, I passed the firestation on 85th street. The sidewalk was filled with flowers. All of these flowers and pictures of the departed (they call them missing) reminds me of the pictures I have seen of shrines in India. The normal grave stones are no longer sufficient. Candles and flowers, cards and momentos, and now dna samples of the lost souls. The call has gone out to pick up toothbrushes and combs of the lost; underwear that hasn’t been washed; anything that may contain dna traces of those who have been vaporized and pulverized and mixed in with the concrete ash and melted steel.

The mayor, and other officials continue to say this is a recovery action. I don’t know how much longer they can hold to that line as comforting as it may be. Everyone wants to do something, but what? My sister, who is a social worker volunteered to be grief counselor. They took her name, and said they were full up. Maybe in a month or so they might call her.

* * *

Here are lyrics to a song written by a close friend the day after the WTC:

“What a day, what a clear blue sky
What a day on which to die.

Out of the blue, there flew this plane
A single second of endless pain.

Five thousand friends, husbands and wives
What a way to lose their lives.

Where is my sister? Where is my son?
They went to work and they are gone.

What is the reason? What can it be?
You can’t explain its cause to me.

Call it revenge. Call it jihad.
You killed your brothers in the name of God.

You’ve made me sick. I want to kill.
I want your poison blood to spill.

We will not rest, we will not sleep
Until your terror is buried deep. ”

And this from today’s New York Times — by Tamar Lewin

In a shooting rampage on Saturday, a gunman in Arizona fatally shot the Sikh owner of a Chevron gas station, and, 20 minutes later, shot at but missed a clerk of Lebanese descent at a Mobil station… The East Valley Tribune reported that Mr. Roque shouted — ‘I stand for America all the way,’ as he was handcuffed.

* * *

All I can say, is that the world as we know it, will never be the same. Life will go on, and the shock will pass but I still find myself struggling with the role of the photographer during these times. It’s true, that my first impulse, was to run out and cover the horror. But even on the day when I walked about five miles to get down to Canal Street, I passed beneath several of the bridges by the East River, and took pictures that reminded me of early pictures of the Brooklyn Bridge taken by Walker Evans — and in looking through the negatives tonight, these are the ones that appeal to me.

Just for the fun of it, I looked at all the pictures in the New York Times today — I was curious to see if there were any that you knew were about this event without a caption, or without obviously being shots of the destruction. Very few. It is ironic, but it is really the pictures of the pictures of the missing that immediately tell you this is the WTC disaster without actually being about the WTC. In other words, photographically, its the idea of the missing person that is most visually symbolic of this disaster. True, the country is filled with flags — but that could be any patriotic time. The pictures of the missing are the visual equivalent of the Yellow Ribbon.


Just had word that Igor Z., a computer support guy, a Russian immigrant, that I worked with and often kidded around with at the ad agency is missing and I presume dead.

He is the first to perish that I knew personally, and when I heard about it through Instant Messenger, it brought tears to my eyes.

He worked on the 90th floor.

Now the face and personality of someone that I worked with every day for several years — the hopes and dreams — crushed. I sit here with my head in my hands, just picturing the way he would come into my office and ask me questions all the time, and I would playfully shoo him out.

He was a heavy-set guy, with a baby-face and light-blue eyes. There was always a kind of puzzled look on his face when he came in to ask me a question. I wasn’t his immediate boss, but I was the computer guru that lots of people came to when there was a problem. He had to support the Lotus Notes system, which no one in the world can understand — and he was constantly coming into my dark little office and standing sheepishly at the door with another question. And I would never give him a straight answer. Maybe I thought I was Socrates or something, but I worked and taught many programmers and I always wanted them to think for themselves. Igor wasn’t going to have any of that, he had things to do, and users were complaining and he wanted a straight answer which eventually I would give him.

He was married. And while he was at the agency had a child — so the child must be about three years old now.

Like all the Russians I knew, he was filled with plans for starting his own company. I would sit with him and correct his English on the web page for his new support company. He came to me constantly with questions about how to get properly listed in the search engines. About how to design his site.

And I think back to the chain of events that forced him out of the agency.

About two years ago, there were various shake-ups in the technical department. New Chief Information Officers came in with wild plans to save money and upgrade our technology. Most of those CIO’s are long gone, leaving a trail of pain behind them. Good people were forced out. Crazy plans were started but not finished.

One of those plans was to get rid of support staff and outsource everything. So Igor and others were fired. And then there was the scramble to find a new job and he ended up at the WTC. But no use going down that tree… So Igor escapes from Russia to come here and be pulverized in the symbol of capitalism. I can only hope that it was quick, and that he didn’t suffer too much. Five thousand dead, and all of their faces rolled up into the face of Igor, standing in the doorway of my office, demanding an answer to something… And now we’re all demanding some answer.

* * *

I find a lot of Bush’s phrases odd — and the one that I noticed was his use of the word ‘evildoers’. Tonight, just for the heck of it, I thought I would read a bit of the Quaran, which I found on-line — and this phrase jumped out at me:

From Sura 2

“Line 11. When they are told,
“Do not commit evil,” they say,
“But we are righteous!”

12. In fact, they are evildoers,
but they do not perceive.”

Is it possible that Bush’s speechwriters are actually trying to give a message to the Muslims?

* * *

Five minutes reading of the Quaran makes it doubtful that this book has anything to do with what happened on September 11. Much of the beginning seems straight from the old testament:

Here’s the Garden of Eden:

“We said, ‘O Adam, live with your
wife in Paradise, and eat therefrom
generously, as you please, but do not
approach this tree, lest you sin.

But the devil duped them, and
caused their eviction therefrom.
We said, ‘Go down as enemies
of one another. On Earth shall be
your habitation and provision for awhile.'”

* * *
And the Jews as being the ‘chosen people’ (given our history, I would rather not have been chosen)

“47. O Children of Israel, remember My favor which I bestowed upon
you, and that I blessed you more than any other people”

* * *

Cecile B DeMille’s Ten Commandments:

49. Recall that we saved you from Pharaoh’s people who inflicted upon
you the worst persecution, slaying your sons and sparing your daughters.
That was an exacting test from your Lord.

50. Recall that we parted the sea for you; we saved you
and drowned Pharaoh’s people before your eyes.

51. Yet, when we summoned Moses for forty nights,
you worshiped the calf in his absence, and turned wicked.*

52. Still, we pardoned you thereafter that you may be appreciative.

53. Recall that we gave Moses
scripture and the statute book,
that you may be guided.

* * *

All religions are like fingers on the hand of God —

62. Surely, those who believe,
those who are Jewish, the Christians,
and the converts; anyone who
(1) believes in GOD, and
(2) believes in the Last Day, and
(3) leads a righteous life,
will receive their recompense from their Lord.
They have nothing to fear, nor will they grieve.

Seems like a pretty inclusive statement to me.
* * *

79. Therefore, woe to those who distort the scripture
with their own hands, then say,
“This is what GOD has revealed,”
seeking a cheap material gain.
Woe to them for such distortion,
and woe to them for their
illicit gains.
* * *


Woke up this morning, prepared to spend the day printing… but quickly discovered that my pc was infected with a very nasty virus/worm. This happened even though I am running Norton Anti-virus with definitions that were current yesterday — and a firewall. And this was a very, very scary virus because what it did was write javascript to all html, htm, and asp pages, and a few of those pages were uploaded to my site yesterday. The virus is called w32.nimba@mm

You can read about it at Anyway, things seem to be cleaned up now and the site is clean. More, later… just got a call from Agora Gallery, asking me if I would like to bring some pieces down today because one of the artists who was supposed to show tonight couldn’t get their artwork there.

I said I would. I don’t really expect any sales, but exposure is exposure. So between the virus and the gallery, most of today is shot.

* * *

10:00 pm

Visited the local firehouse again tonight. This time I went in and shook hands with one or two of the firemen, and felt tears welling up as we talked which surprised me. I was really only saying the same trite things I had heard others say, but the warmth I felt towards these men moved me. He must have seen this in my eyes, and began talking about different levels of levels of sadness, and that he had experienced many of these levels. I wandered around a bit, found a pair of fireman’s old boots surrounded by a wreath and photogaphed them for a while..

As I was leaving, a little girl was being carried on her father’s shoulders, and I heard her ask him, “Daddy, why do they have all those flowers, don’t they know this isn’t a cemetary?”


Did twenty 8 x 10’s of ‘Benches’ and fifteen prints of ‘Flat Iron Tilted’ — so I have enough to mat and ship some orders that have been hanging around since this crisis started, and some stock for the next time I go to the Met. I’ve noticed lately that its been easier to get decent prints from my Plus-X negs. than from my TMY negs. Given the faster lenses I’m using now, I may actually go back to Plus-X. It’s sort of a toss up because the resolution is better with the new films, but the tonality of the old films seems easier to achieve. I also have some rolls of the new Delta 400, and may give that a try first.

Tonight was the second opening at Agora but I didn’t go. Was too exhausted from printing today.

* * *


Agora Gallery is going to use my shot of the flag (towards the end of the new shots) — for their newsletter. It is odd that the last picture I posted on the site before the WTC was this shot of the flag (taken about two weeks prior to the event).

Here’s the blurb I wrote for them to use:

“This photo was taken somewhere around 93rd street in NYC. What caught my eye was the way the light was glowing behind the stars, and the geometry of the windows in the background which seemed to echo the stars. At the time it was nothing more than an exercise in arranging shapes, lines and tones. The events of September 11, mean that, at least for me, the flag cannot ever be viewed again with the same artistic detatchment.”
* * *

Now this was amazing, a guy wrote the following to me a few days ago:

“This is so wierd… My brother called me up and told me to check out pic # 12 on your site. That’s me! I’m the guy on the left. I thought that was pretty cool. -Peace”

Turns out that this is the guy on the left in the picture: Subway, Two Men.

His brother is a photography student who ran across this picture. The guy was quite friendly about it and I told him I would send him a print. In a city of 8 million people — amazing.

* * *


I do best to approach sideways, like a crab. Straight on, I am like everyone else. So I slowly return to a style where important things appear on the edges, where it isn’t so clear what the print is about, and where, in a good print, I myself am not entirely sure. I take away the little section about ‘Things After Sept. 11″ as being an unnatural line of division. And add a print to the new section, where it holds up on its own.


Several people have asked me recently and not so recently whether it is worth it to build a website for selling photography. Here is a draft of something I’m working on now…

How to Make a Living Selling Photography on the Web

By Dave Beckerman

Yes, you too can make a living selling photography on the web, and now I am going to tell you how. In this article I am going to tell you, gentle reader all the secrets that I have learned — for free. Yes, I give my learning away for free because I am quite certain that not a single person in this entire world would pay their hard-earned, or even their easily-earned money to have this knowledge. This brings us to rule number one:

People on the web don’t want to pay for anything

And this is the first lesson to be had on the web — nobody expects to pay for anything. For someone to move their finger to the ‘Add to Cart’ button is like asking the viewer to leap over the Grand Canyon on a motorcycle. This is especially true for selling pictures but not for all merchandise.

Pictures are not shoes

Seeing a picture of shoes on the web, is just not the same as owning them. In order to get your full money’s worth from a pair of shoes, it really helps to have them on your feet. The same is not true for pictures. You can get quite a lot of value simply by looking at the picture on your computer screen. You don’t need to have it hanging in your house in order to really appreciate it. You may appreciate it more if it is around the house, but how much more is open to question.

I would call this the ‘Hey, I Can See It Whenever I Want Anyway’ syndrome. And to continue the analogy with shoes, you get absolutely no more value if you go back to a site and view a pair of shoes over and over again. They are not aesthetic objects (well not primarily) — but pictures are different. You can download them and use them for wallpaper. You can revisit the site and look at them again. You can even print them out, true the quality ain’t great, but so what and then hang ’em in your cube at work.

Hey, I Can See It Whenever I Want Anyway

Pretend that you had a button inside your head that you could press which would instantly take you to the Museum to view Starry Night — pretend everyone had such a button — would it really be necessary to own the original? So, it may seem at first like a natural thing to do, selling pictures on the web, but it isn’t so natural. Speaking of natural, the one type of picture that human beings will pay for is to see other naked human beings. In fact, these types of pictures are perfect for selling on the web, because we don’t want to have them proudly displayed in our living room. We only want to see them on the computer screen. The problem with the human being is that there are very few of them who would pay a subscription to see “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico” on the monitor. Pretend that Ansel Adams was still alive. Can you imagine a fine art subscription service on the web where you got to see, in the privacy of your own home, a new print by Ansel Adams each week? I say that no one would pay for that. But they will pay to see as many naked bodies as there are stars in starry starry night.

Sign Up Now for Twenty Years of Photographs which will constantly be added to, and which may possibly bring subtle understanding or amusement to your life. Order now, and we’ll give you access to the secret vaults where images by undiscovered artists are just waiting to be revealed to you.

Yeah, right.

Show Smaller Pictures That People Can Barely Make Out

When I first put up the site, I thought that people would want a chance to really get closer to the prints, and study them in detail before buying them, so each print could be seen in two sizes — the normal sort of size say 500 x 300, and a size that was double that. I soon discovered, through reading statistics about the site, that for every 3000 normal sized pictures viewed, there was one click on a larger size. Now there could be many reasons for that I guess — such as the larger pictures take too long to load. Or maybe the button for making them larger wasn’t clearly indicated. But my hunch is that people simply don’t see any point in lingering over a computer image as they would if they were standing in a museum. Either the point of the photograph is blunt, and clearly understood, or you can click and look at the next image. Why would you want to explore an image on a computer screen? Doesn’t make any sense. In fact, at one point, I think I made the images on the site slightly smaller, and sales went up.

Decorate or Die

I can divide my sales into two categories: Decorative and Non-Decorative. Let me define the terms, Decorative means that you can put it up on the living room wall without causing the kids any emotional trauma. Non-decorative means that the image may contain some thought provoking or at the very least either too clear, or too unclear subject. Neither is very beneficial to sales. A line in a Dylan song comes to mind, “Beauty walks a razor’s edge, someday I’ll make it mine” — well if making a living on the web is important to you, then put up a lot of beautiful prints — a walk in the park, a sunrise, a sunset, and most especially someone walking in the park during a sunrise or a sunset.

Now here’s another fundamental difference between selling pictures on the web, and selling them let’s say in a physical store, or in a gallery or on a street corner — and this is a big thing:

The web buyer is simply ordering a print. The person on the street corner is buying and taking possession of the print. The web buyer places an order and it is up to you, the lucky photographer to search through your inventory and see if you have that print, and if not make it and make others in case you sell more of it. The photographer who walks out to the corner with his prints, sells one to a passerby. Transaction finished. The web-seller has highly sophisticated (read likely to break) software that takes the order, and notifies him that he has an order and now he must find out whether that picture is in stock, and if not, makes it, and then packages and ships it. And oh yes, drop it at the post office for the larger sizes anyway. And then go and use the software again to actually charge the credit card. Hopefully the package arrives in one piece.

After six months of labor on my site (I did the programming), I received an order by check for a picture. Be;ing excited, I sent the picture and then deposited the check which of course bounced, so not only did I not get the money for the picture but the bank was nice enough to charge me for the bounced check.

In contrast, it took me exactly one day of selling on the street to make ten times the amount I made in those first six months on the web.


Oh, THE PRICE POINT. This is the single most important thing that I can tell you. People on the web use a formula for deciding whether to press the ‘Add To Cart’ button or not — and it is called the Cost Per Square Inch rule. Take the cost and divide by the total surface area of the print. This will give you the Cost Per Square Inch of Fine Art (CPSIFA). Confused? Thought that the size of a piece of art might be related to what the artist thought was the proper size. Forget that. Here’s a concrete example:

Print Size = 8 x 10 inches or 80 square inches. Cost is $30. If you divide $30 / 80 = 38 cents per square inch

Now let’s say that you sell that print at 11 x 14 for $35

Print Size Square Inches = 154

35 / 154 = .23 cents

So although the price has gone up, most web-users have already been able to calculate that this is a far better deal.


Now, if you take into account the decorative factor, and at that to the equation, you can see that a picture of a sunset, that is quite large, and sells for a reasonable amount, will be the most popular picture. And of course that leads to the real core of the issue, if this is true, why sell hand-crafted, labor intensive prints at all? Why not just sell posters? Posters are the obvious way to go, because as the reader has surmised, they will give you the least cost per square inch of fine art, and from the web-sellers point of view are the cheapest to produce. But I will take it one step further, and come to the real thesis that I’ve been driving at, and this is — coffee cups with your fine art photography on them.

I know, this sounds like some crass comercial scheme (o.k. it is) — but the coffee cup with the picture of the sunset, will do best of all. The main reason is that like a pair of shoes, it cannot be fully experienced via the web. You must own it. Second of all, coffee cups, and mugs are already very succesful items in most souvenier stores, so you don’t really need to be concerned about developing a market for them. And the most important reason is this — you don’t even need to put your own photographs on the mugs. What will work quite well are little slogans such as ‘I Love New York’ or ‘I Love…” and you can fill in the city.


After writing this entry, I just received the following email, I kid you not, which I quote verbatim:

Selling your pictures on the Internet is the fastest,
easiest way to increase your sales.

Whether you’re shooting digital (or film) you should
consider eS***** as a great online proofing

The more people that can view your images, the more people
will buy them. It’s just that simple.

In addition to our great e-commerce solution, we also give
you ways to sell more stock, sell more accessories and save
on camera gear and more.

* * *

Filling out my quarterly NYS sales tax, I came across a statement that says that those who have experienced problems because of the attacks (and they are listed carefully) may not have to pay penalties. Then there is this line:

Please note that this list is not intended to be all inclusive and that taxpayers experiencing circumstances not described here may also be eligible for such relief. Furthermore, the perpetrators of the attacks and anyone aiding in the attacks will not qualify for the relief provided by the extended deadlines.

I am quite pleased to know that New York State will not allow those who have murdered Americans to file late taxes without penalty.

* * *


For those of you out there that think I have any idea of what I’m doing — this morning should prove that its been mostly a combination of luck and trial and error. I spent most of the day printing various shots taken since the WTC, and I have to say, they are pretty awful. Each in its own way. I guess I did proofs of about seven or eight shots, and didn’t like any of them. For example — the shot of the three Tibetan monks — I must have spent a few hours on that one. Tried it with every paper I have. Either the grays were off, or the blacks of their robes were muddy, or the highlights were washed out, and I’m not even sure that its such a great shot in b&w.

Anyway, I don’t want to get into it right now — but it was a pretty frustrating day. Oh, and the one shot that I thought had possibilities, I realized afterwards that you could see people’s phone numbers and names, and I couldn’t put it up on the website because there’s too many nuts out there.

There’s one, where the missing posters are in the background and there’s this strange shadow coming down the steps that might be o.k. I’ll see after its dried. But all in all — I think I was on a better streak before all the tragedy.

A woman from asked if she could purchase the rights to use a picture to make postcards to send to her customers. She said her entire budget was $200, and that she could only offer $100 for the right to make postcards. A friendly, nice woman, but I told her that it wasn’t worth it to me to have a high quality digital file floating around out there for $100.

In case anyone is interested, I have been having so many problems with TMAX 400 lately, that I’ve switched to Tri-X which I haven’t used in twenty years. Don’t have results back, but I’m hoping it will be a bit more forgiving with me. It’s not that my exposures have been way off, its just that all of a sudden I’m having trouble with TMY in high contrast situations.


Quite the heated discussion when the relatives got together to break the fast last night. I guess it all started when my dad asked one of his innocent questions of the group, “What do you think should be done?” .

Here are excerpts from a letter to my dad with his responses in caps:


I have heard many theories — the Muslims in general are very poor, and unhappy that the U.S. lives so well; that they hate the Jews and hate the U.S for supporting the Jews; that the U.S. invaded holy sections of Saudi
Arabia; and that it is cultural, and we are ruining their culture by spreading our own decadent U.S. culture. Suppose all these things are true.. The Germans believed that the Jews were the cause of all their suffering. Look what happened.

This idea floating around that we needed to ‘understand’ the terrorists, and the causes of ‘terrorism’ made me feel as if I were sitting in a garret in the Warsaw Ghetto trying to figure out why the Nazis were treating us the way they did. What could we do to understand their motivations and appease them in some way and show them that we were human beings just like them. Why don’t they like us?


We all have our idealogies, and apparantly they are as important as life itself. I think from what I see, that even if there were another bombing, and relatives were killed, that would only strengthen peoples leaning on their idealogy.


How can you tell whether someone has an idealogy? It means that their reaction to any issue can be predicted. I could predict that X would blame this on the corporations. That Y would blame this on the past actions of the U.S. And that Z would be non-violent.Perhaps my reaction could have been predicted too — but I doubt it.

I’ll be honest with you dad, I arrived with a slight headache — and I left with a slight headache. And I will tell you that you were the only one there that I would like to share a foxhole with during a real crisis.


One other thing — maybe I travel in different circles, but I can tell you that almost everyone in the circles that I travel with would be happy to see military action, and see it soon. They expect it, and they desire revenge. Did Y ever sit down and talk with a young National Guard soldier who spent several nights at Ground Zero, walking over body parts? Did Y talk to the widow of the Russian immigrant who is dead at age 29 leaving a wife and three year old child. I have two other friends who came that close to being dead. It seemed lost on some people that civilians were
the outright target.

[my father was in the army and fought in europe during ww II. he has seen a lot, including the liberation of concentration camps]







* * *

Well, its saved here.


My attempts at ‘capturing’ the events of the day, gave little artistic satisfaction, so I will stop trying. For years, I have wandered about, without trying to get anything in particular. Without knowning what would strike me or why. Sometimes this might be the gleam of sunlight on water-soaked boards, or the posture of a man. Once I gave in to the events, and abandoned that approach, my photography turned from something instinctive to something planned and obvious. It was as if my pictures had turned into foreign movies that required subtitles. So, after the great shock and horror, I am slowly returning to my old way of working, which is to simply wander about and not try.

It is better to strive in one’s own dharma than to succeed in the dharma of another. Nothing is ever lost in following one’s own dharma, but competition in another’s dharma breeds fear and insecurity — Sri Krishna in The Bhadavad Gita.

[“The word dharma means many things, but its underlying sense is ‘that wich supports,’ from the root dhri, to support, hold up, or bear. Generally dharma implies support from within: the essence of a thing, its virture, that which makes it what it is”. — Diana Morrison from The Bhagavad Gita, Nilgiri Press, copyright 1985]

* * *

Printed Subway Car (Empty) today, and a few other prints, and seem to be getting back on track. The odd thing is that I’m still using three different papers to get control over some of these prints — Ilford VC Fiber, Gallerie Grade 2 and Gallerie Grade 3. The VC Fiber, even when I’m giving it just soft light, is often too contrasty. It is almost like a Gallerie 5 if there is such a grade. Also finally got a small print of Grand Central Arches which I’ll put on the site soon. This print, which I really like, just never translated well via the scanner. But I have hopes that this one will. Also changed the site around and am offering some limited edition prints at much lower prices. The inexpensive print of Promenade is being bought pretty frequently now, but I feel that I need to be able to sell at least one or two limited editions per month, even if they are only $75 each.


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My name is Dave Beckerman. I am a fine art photographer working in New York City.