Saturday, June 23, 2012

Subway an open book

Alongside subway commuters with noses buried in bodice-rippers, biographies and Bibles, Ourit Ben-Haim clutches her camera and waits for just the right shot. The free-lance photographer creates surreptitious portraits of the New York riders as they turn their book pages, publishing the results on her website

 In some cases, the subjects are in a reading reverie and never know they have been photographed. The 700 bookworms featured in photos she has published on Underground New York Public Library, the blog she launched in December, are identified only by the titles of their books.

 Someone, a PN patron, I think,  told me about that site.

Her blog approximates the sensation of reading over a stranger's shoulder. Ms. Ben-Haim acknowledges that the act of taking photographs of strangers without permission might make some people uneasy.

There is a question of ethics, indeed.

On her website, she writes that taking photographs of people without their permission is "not wrong" legally. Ms. Ben-Haim also says that she never hides her camera, answers questions from those who notice what she's doing and discards photos if she thinks the subject would find the results unflattering.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Silhouette Photography

From the Argus newsletter, 29 examples of silhouette photography.
Etymology of the name: 1798, from Fr. silhouette, in reference to √Čtienne de Silhouette (1709-1767), French minister of finance in 1759. Usually said to be so called because it was an inexpensive way of making a likeness of someone, a derisive reference to Silhouette's petty economies to finance the Seven Years' War, which were unpopular among the nobility. But other theories are that it refers to his brief tenure in office, or the story that he decorated his chateau with such portraits. The verb is recorded from 1876.

The family name is a Frenchified form of a Basque surname; Arnaud de Silhouette, the finance minister's father, was from Biarritz in the French Basque country; the southern Basque form of the name would be Zuloeta or Zulueta, which contains the suffix -eta "abundance of" and zulo "hole" (possibly here meaning "cave").

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Photos from Life magazine.

"Paris is like a magic sword in a fairy tale — a shining power in those hands to which it rightly belongs, in other hands tinsel and lead. Whenever the City of Light changes hands, Western Civilization shifts its political balance. So it has been for seven centuries; so it was in 1940; so it was last week." — LIFE after the French capital was liberated in August 1944.