Monday, July 22, 2019

White and Black, with Weeds

Torrington, Connecticut

White painted bricks, asphalt with paint chips, dead weeds and new weeds, a full palette.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Black Spires

Waterbury, Connecticut

St. Anne's Church is undergoing restoration. Before I-84 vaulted itself through the center of town, the church was the dominant structure in the whole valley.

Saturday, July 20, 2019


Torrington, Connecticut

Newspaper offices and printing plant, now vacant. The weeds are moving in.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Roses and Weeds

Torrington, Connecticut

An old residential neighborhood where most of the big houses have been divided into multiple apartments. As you walk down the block, the state of upkeep varies enormously from house to house.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019


Torrington, Connecticut

Storm clouds coming in. Open, but please use other door, seems like a mixed message.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Monday, July 15, 2019


Torrington, Connecticut

I'd already thought the scene was pretty interesting, and then the two kids on bikes came through.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Naugatuck Weeds

Naugatuck, Connecticut

An hour and a half of weed watching in Naugatuck, 7/7/19. Only bagged half as many as in Torrington the day before.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Isfahan, or Shiraz?

Iran, 1970

In the recent posting of pictures from the IHP scholarship trip in 1969-70, I somehow overlooked two of my favorite pictures from the year. For thirty years they've been in my 12 shot super tight edit of work from the trip, so here they are in this sequence one more time. The group spent six or seven weeks in Tehran. Partway through we made a side trip to the cities of Isfahan and Shiraz. I made these pictures in a spooky covered market area, but I don't remember which city I was in.

Thirty years ago, when I showed this picture to the great photographer, teacher, and writer David Vestal, he immediately shook his head and said, "Hard way to make a living."

Thursday, July 11, 2019

More from Zagreb, 1970

Zagreb, Yugoslavia

This should have followed the post with the ordination ceremony. It's a Mass taking place in a basement church facility on the outskirts of the city. What I understood from my contacts was that the government made a show of allowing the Cathedral to operate so they could point and say they were not oppressing religion. The reality however was that they did discourage religious activity except at the highly visible cathedral, literally driving it underground.

Torrington Weeds, Part One

Torrington, Connecticut

A little over an hour of weed watching around Torrington, 7/6/19.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Sidewalk Art

Naugatuck, Connecticut

He spends hours on a Sunday making a chalk drawing on the sidewalk of the town green. Here he's discussing the symbolism of the figures in the design with a woman and her pet reptile.


The pet appeared to have fake dragon wings attached to its collar.

Finished design a couple hours later.

Tuesday, July 09, 2019

Cable Box

Torrington, Connecticut

This wall is in the alley between a couple commercial buildings right near the center of town. I'm quite sure these are cable TV, er, cables. Which makes me think that there must be a bunch of residential apartments in the upper floors of the building. There's a yoga studio on the third floor, and maybe other businesses I don't know about, but this is quite a lot of cable TV/internet accounts. There are only four or five businesses obviously operating in the building.

Monday, July 08, 2019

Ordination Ceremony

Zagreb, Yugoslavia, 1970

While the IHP group was based for weeks in Belgrade, in the Serbian eastern part of then-Yugoslavia, I got good material for my ritual project at Eastern, Orthodox Rite, churches. Then I traveled alone to Zagreb in the western, mainly Roman Catholic, section of the country. At the Cathedral I made contact with a priest who was a French language teacher, which equipped him to understand my terrible college student French. I wound up being invited to photograph a rare ordination Mass.

This will be the last of these archive posts from 50 year old pictures for now. I'll be back to this blog's usual material tomorrow. As an interesting personal aside, my paternal grandparents immigrated to America around 1900, from Austria. Zagreb is quite near the Austrian border (and of course the borders have been fluid over the past couple centuries). I must look the part, because over the four or five days I spent in Zagreb, at least half a dozen times people approached me to ask for directions or other guidance in halting tourist-handbook Croatian.

Sunday, July 07, 2019

An Orthodox Rite Wedding

Belgrade, Yugoslavia, 1970

The IHP group spent over six weeks based in Belgrade, and I once again lucked into finding a wedding ceremony to cover for my thesis project on religious ritual. There was a fair amount of tension in the air since the communist regime at the time just barely tolerated religious practice. Getting permission to photograph took several difficult discussions in broken English (theirs) and very poor French (mine). Somehow I got across the reason I wanted to make pictures of the wedding and in the end everyone was very cooperative.

The vestments were just about as elaborate as at the Hindu wedding and the pageantry was highly dramatic. Also the chanting—my impression was that one of the requirements to become an Orthodox priest must be to possess a basso profundo voice. The interior was also very dark, mysterious and murky. There were electric lights in a hanging chandelier and several wall fixtures, but they were barely brighter than the candles. The overall mood was solemn.

Saturday, July 06, 2019

A Hindu Wedding

New Delhi, India, 1970

After weeks at the ashram in Pondicherry (where I got almost no photography done) the group flew up to New Delhi, where I did much better. I also got to stay with a local family which was very enjoyable.

The family consisted of a couple in their thirties with two toddler children, a grandmother, plus the husband's brother who was, I think, his business partner. He was away on business and  I got to occupy his spacious room. The wife was from the north Indian heritage who can bear a striking resemblance to Sophia Loren, and she did. For that matter, the husband reminded me of a slightly overweight Omar Sharif—quite a couple.

There were also two cooks, one Hindu, and one Muslim. The Muslim cook was there to prepare "Western Style" food, including meat, for the husband's frequent foreign visitors from his business. The only problem I ran into concerned the food from those cooks. My hosts, despite their superb English (and Hindi and Punjabi and more) could not be convinced that I would prefer to have their Hindu food. The one thing I had loved about our stay at the ashram was the simple but delicious spicy meatless food. I'm sure that their Muslim cook's mutton stews were excellent examples of the cuisine, but for someone who didn't even like beef, mutton was a strain. The thing was that my hosts had a pre-formed opinion about Americans that made them assume, no, insist, that my asking to have their meatless cuisine was simply an unnecessary excess politeness on my part and couldn't possibly be because I didn't really like meat and was very curious about the Hindu cook's food. (Twenty years later I went completely and permanently vegetarian, and now am now essentially vegan.)

One weekday when I returned in the evening from an unusually long day of lectures and classroom activities with the group, my hosts were practically jumping up and down with excitement. They knew about my independent study project on ritual, and announced with glee that there was going to be a full-blown, over-the-top—the ritual alone will last over eight hours before the party begins!—classic Hindu wedding right around the corner! More important, Sophia, er, the wife (of course I knew and learned to pronounce their names, but fifty years later?) had already spoken with the mother of the bride (this was a surprise—Hinduism is extremely patriarchal, but unless I misunderstood something, a wedding was run by the women) who had given me complete permission to attend and photograph and spread the beauty of their culture. The only restriction was that I should be mindful of the official wedding photographer (which struck me as incredibly thoughtful) and be careful not to block his shots.

So, imagine the situation in the picture above. I've focused on the happy couple. The parents of one are in the frame on the left, the other parents are off to the right. The service is being conducted by the fellow in the lower right foreground. Now imagine small variations on this visual arrangement for eight hours.

But ritual isn't always formal. An essential part of this all-day, and into the night, event was the street party. I used many more pictures of the formal marriage ritual in my academic project, but the thing that interested me most was the sense of community. Notice the Sikh turbans on these friends of the groom celebrating out in the street with dancing and firecrackers. The whole community was participating in this Hindu wedding.

Notice in the upper left the official wedding photographer, with his potato-masher flash unit. I had been concerned that I'd have a hard time staying out of his way because, not having the faintest idea what might be about to happen, I wouldn't have a clue where the way was. It turned out that during the endless formal ceremony he was content to stay in a fixed position. I expect he knew exactly when to pay attention and get shots of specific points in the ritual. When it turned into a street party, shots of that didn't seem to be high on his agenda.

It was a wonderful privilege to be allowed into this event that was all at once religious, cultural, personal, and community-inclusive. I would never forget the experience of being there even if I hadn't been concentrated on finding pictures.