Hotel Bathroom, Paris
Leonardo Da Vinci said that the only time we see true color is between dawn and sunrise or between sunset and dusk. He claimed that the sun altered and influenced light as it moved across the sky.
If you look at what Monet did as he painted the haystacks during the course of the day, he was illustrating this fact as his subjects changed color as he worked on each painting. In the picture of the girl with the halo reflected from the bicycle, we have light that is momentary and fleeting. Painters love to work with north light, the light which is unchanging.
A photographer told me north light looked better the longer you looked at it. I realized later he was trying to explain the ability to really study north light, the ability to spend time looking at color and light which would not change.
I was in Paris in a friend’s hotel room. I had to go to the bathroom (that’s another constant). I walked in and there it was. The light was gorgeous, and it was north light. By the way for the first few years I was in business most of my photographs of people were all shot with window light, probably north light. I didn’t know how to use artificial ights.
From the Favorites collection
What constitutes a favorite is that after seeing it every day for years, it doesn’t lose its power.
I know some photographers who are always quite delighted with everything they do. I wish I was like that, but I find a great many of my images lose their power or at least my interest at some later date. Either I’m not interested in the subject anymore or I’m just no longer impressed with the image.
Arthur Meyerson, a very good Houston, Texas, photographer, is a buddy of mine. At one point he offered me his studio for an exhibit of my images for FotoFest in Houston. This was an exhibit of 85 images. Another friend of mine, Gary Winter, was doing a video on me. He’s one of these guys who doesn’t intrude when he’s shooting—a real “fly on the wall” type—so when he asks a question, it’s a rare occurrence.
“So, Jay,” he said, “What’s the reason you picked these particular 85 pictures for this show?”
“They’re my favorites.”
“I was hoping for something a little more insightful and articulate, ” he replied.
I thought about it and realized after looking at one particular image what was behind my choices. I explained that when I shot “Man with Headband,” I was anxious, even terrified because I knew all the things that could go wrong. It was like a litany: “Please don’t let the light change,” Please don’t let somebody walk in front of him,” “Please don’t let him turn around.” I realized at that point that each and every picture in the show was a variation of this. A moment charged with all the things that move me, and the fear of losing it. The apprehension, the near certainty that something or someone, if not myself, was going to compromise the image.
There is an emotional seesaw on perceiving what you think is a great image. It moves between glee and trepidation. The more excited I am, the better the image, the more naked emotion I feel, the more exhilaration there is, the more it is counterbalanced by the certainty that something is going to f*¢% this up.
This anxiety never happens with pictures that are less compelling or less emotional. It never happens with pictures that are intellectually motivated or studies, or with pictures that are about information, history, or pure documentation.
These favorites have stood the test of time, even though they’re mine they still work for me, and I do love them.
From the Paris collection
Finally, in 1963, I decided I had to go. I bought a 21-day excursion ticket. I stayed for four months.
I loved all of Europe, but Paris, Paris, Paris. I always came back there.
I’ve since returned a number of times, and it never disappoints. You are dealing with people who are so sure their food, art, fashion, language, women, and everything else is the best in the world. And who’s to say no?
Many people are upset with the French, and Parisians in general, for their impatience with those who do not speak French well. I rather liked it because they were always themselves, they pandered to no one, and since I was one of the imbeciles who were not fluent in French, I was always left alone to work, not accepted, not rejected, but tolerated just enough and ignored just enough to be able to work.
Who could ask for anything more?
Paper & Printing
Epson Ultra Premium Luster (13x19)
This paper produces vivid, lifelike images, superior ink coverage, and a high D-Max to ensure high reproduction quality prints. More about the paper...
For shipping , it's placed on backing board inside a clear plastic bag. They are then boxed in a custom 15x21x3 corrugated box protected inside 3 inches of charcoal foam. More about shipping...
Epson Legacy Baryta (20x30 and 40x60)
Baryta paper has a white, smooth satin finish with the look and feel of the revered silver halide F-surface darkroom papers and provides excellent image permanence. More about the paper...
20x30 prints are shipped flat in MasterPak PrintPak Art Shipping Sleeves. A "container within a container" with multiple layers of protection.
Dye-Sublimation onto Aluminum (Metal)
Transferring the print to aluminum produces a vivid, archival quality print that is scratch resistant, doesn’t require glass or framing, and is lightweight and easy to hang. More about the paper...
Metal prints are shipped in a sturdy 44x63x3 crate. More about shipping...