ELLEN WALLENSTEIN: Respecting My Elders

 Editta Sherman, b. 1912, Photographer
Photograph © Ellen Wallenstein

Rosalind Solomon, b. 1930, Photographer
Photograph © Ellen Wallenstein

 David Vestal, b. 1924, Photographer
Photograph © Ellen Wallenstein

Rebecca Lepkoff, b. 1916, Photographer
Photograph © Ellen Wallenstein  

Milton Glaser, b. 1929, Graphic Designer
Photograph © Ellen Wallenstein 

Photographs by Ellen Wallenstein

Elizabeth Avedon: What inspired you to begin this project?

Ellen Wallenstein: When my Dad died in 1996, he was 79. I couldn’t be there for him at the end of his life, and that led me to think about being a comfort to others at that time. So in 2001, I trained to become a hospice volunteer. I was assigned to Anne, who was in her mid-eighties; I was turning fifty, which is a big turning point in one’s life.

Anne was a very interesting and incredible person, smart and funny, wise and beautiful. She had lived a very interesting (if ultimately tragic) life and I was very moved by her. I made photographs in her apartment and of her and her cat over a period of time. Those photographs (“Opus for Anne”) earned me a NYFA Fellowship and literally changed my life as an artist.

After she died I decided to photograph other people of her generation (my parents’ generation) who had inspired me, intellectually and artistically. I began to write letters and asked my friends and colleagues for suggestions and introductions.

EA: Did you always envision it as a book?

EW: I’m always interested in editing and making workbooks – from the start I pasted little photos in a notebook, and then eventually made an expanding accordion that I carried with me to the shootings. People are more comfortable if they’ve seen some of your other photos, so they get a sense of what you are doing. Showing them the book was part of introducing myself to them.

So I guess in the back of my head there was always the idea to publish it someday. I make a lot of one-of-a-kind books, I teach book-making, and so the book form is a natural way to envision my work. Also, that kind of goal can keep you on track.

But I had no idea that it would end up being this book, with its really beautiful design by Renee Rockoff and the use of quotes and footnotes. That developed after I raised the money for it and began to work with Renee. The book took a very long time: we both like to get things right. Ultimately it was really good for the book, but it took a year longer than I had promised my supporters.

I have a wish list of 80-100 more people I want to photograph, but I had to stop at a certain point to work on the first volume. I’ve sort of lost my momentum, not to mention my nerve, but I promised myself I’d continue with this. I have a sabbatical coming up next spring so I’ll have some extra time to get back to the job of outreach, and shooting, and finding a commercial publisher.

EA: Who was the first portrait you took for this series?

Aside from my mother and her friends, Rebecca Lepkoff was the first person I photographed. I met her at an opening at City College, a show of photographers from the Upper Upper West Side (which is where I grew up, coincidentally.) Rebecca was part of this group - I introduced myself to her and asked if I could make a portrait and she said of course. I visited her in the fall of 2008. I’ve run into her from time to time; she’s still out there on the streets photographing in her 90s!

EA: Who is the oldest person you've photographed?

EW: EvaZeisel was 102 (she lived to be 104). She was still working everyday, but was very frail and quite deaf so it was hard to communicate with her. Bel Kaufman was 100, and Ruth Gruber turned 100 the week after I photographed her. Bel and Ruth are friends; I was introduced to one through the other. They are both still around.

EA: Which personalities stand out for you?

EW: There was a big Intimidation Factor for me with some people. Milton Glaser and JudithMalina were the most intimidating, personality-wise.

I was aware that Mr. Glaser is a busy man and that he didn’t have much time for me. But he was gracious. I photographed him in his conference room for about 10 minutes, until he said, “Okay, you got it. I have to go back to work”. Which he did. And, I think I did “get it”- I really like the photo of him- with his profile opposite the one in his Piero Della Francesca piece behind him. I think he looks quite elegant and handsome.

Ms. Malina wanted to know why she had to hold an object; she didn’t think it worked- her cherished object was the peace sign necklace she’d been wearing since 1969.

One of the kindest was A.R. (Pete) Gurney, who was really enthusiastic about my project and gave me many introductions (and a pair of theater tickets). Also Bel Kaufman who was so welcoming. And Irwin Corey, because of his personality and his history - he was 99 - going out every day to entertain and panhandle change from motorists at the midtown tunnel, to send to a charity in Cuba – ever the activist and fighter for human rights. And of course my cover girl, Editta Sherman.

EA: Please tell me about Editta Sherman! How did you meet?

Editta Sherman was 97 when I photographed her. She had photographed all the screen stars in the 30s, 40s and 50s. Now she’s 101 and quite the well-known character, especially because of Philip Gefter and Richard Press’s film “Bill Cunningham New York” and Josef Astor’s “Lost Bohemia”. My friend Kati Meister suggested her to me.

I visited Editta this past summer, just before her birthday. She was thrilled with my book and excited and proud to be on the cover and invited me to her new home. She no longer lives at Carnegie Hall, which is a sad part of history, but she has a lovely apartment on Central Park South overlooking the park, not a bad place to end up in one’s life. She’s working on a book of her photographs, which she hopes to publish soon; she talked quite a bit about that.

EA: Do you keep in touch with any of your subjects?

JeanyeeWong, a wonderful calligrapher became a good friend. (She designed the word Seventeen for the magazine cover, the Heinz ketchup label, and thousands of book covers). I used to visit her at her fifth-floor walk-up (!) near Gramercy Park, but recently she moved to an assisted living facility uptown, where I go to visit sometimes. She’s 92 now and quite frail; she couldn’t make it up all those steps anymore. 

Bel Kaufman wrote me a lovely thank you note for sending her the book which she signed “Your new old - very old - Friend”. And I’ve been in touch with Pete Gurney and Edward Albee, sending them updates on my work and hearing back from them.

EA: How did you raise funds? What can you say about that process?

EW: I raised funds for this book through United States Artist.org, which is a “micro-philanthropy” that helps artists and artists’ projects. You have to be a vetted artist to post a project, which put me in some good company. And the donations are tax-deductible.

My original idea was to make a book and create a website for the project, but that was a bit of an overreach! There were some expenses I hadn’t counted on, like an ISBN number and postage costs, etc. But, I made something I really like that was distributed to all my supporters and is available online for a reasonable price.

98% of my supporters were my own friends and contacts. It helps to be older: my circles are actually very wide (and overlapping) at this point. Raising funds, asking for money, is an arduous task. Most artists aren’t cut out for it. I personally found the process excruciating. However, I did it and I’m proud and grateful to have met my goal, thanks to my friends. I’m thrilled to have my book out there in the world.

EA: Is there anything interviewers have missed that you would like to say about your work, your book, about anything?

1. Always follow your ideas, your instincts, and your dreams. 
2. Do the work, do the work, do the work.

Thursday, September 12, 2013, 6-8 P.M.
16 Gramercy Park South, NYC



 Double Portraits  
Photograph (c) Christoph Klauke

Double Portraits  
Photograph (c) Christoph Klauke

Double Portraits  
Photograph (c) Christoph Klauke

Double Portraits  
Photograph (c) Christoph Klauke

German born Photographer Christoph Klauke, based in London, received his Bachelor of Arts degree from Brooks Institute of Photography in California. Over the years Klauke has gone on to work for many publications, including The New York Times Magazine, French Vogue and Vanity Fair, as well as solo exhibitions in London, Paris, Tokyo, Basel and Lugano.

His first book, The 28 Faces of Corinne Dolle, was published in 2011. I spoke with him recently about the upcoming launch in London of his second book, Double Portraits.
 +  +  +

EA: How long have you been working on your series, Double Portraits?

CK: I started Double Portraits with the intention of making a portrait photo book in early 2000. I had my own photo studio then, in an up-and-coming area of London called Spitalfields. After relocating to New York in the summer of 2001, I continued with the portraits in New York until 2004 and finally finished a third chapter on the West Coast in 2005. On returning to  London I thought I would be able to place the project with one of the specialist publishers but it proved impossible. I self-published my first photo book two years ago, as a form of trial run for the "Double Portraits" book.  I would recommend to other photographers to do the same. Although painful at times, it is incredibly rewarding to stay in control of the book production process.

EA: Are these portraits identical?

CK: No, the portraits are similar but not identical. There is a time lag of several seconds between the first exposure, the left photograph and the second exposure, the right photograph. All these portraits were taken with an 8x10" Deardorff camera, which requires using a heavy tripod. The left frame is focused and composed, the second is uncontrolled. The sitter knows that I am taking two pictures and is attempting to sit still. Since the depth of field in this close up setting is so shallow, there is inevitably some movement or at least a different expression in the second photograph. Combined together, the viewer's eye scans for differences and sometimes feels or imagines the moment in between.

EA: How did you arrive at this idea?

CK: Back in Spitalfields, in 1999, I was asked to exhibit in a small space, a former tailor's shop called "Made to Measure" in a Georgian house in Princelet Street.  I did a series of sittings with a local beauty and neighbor, and the first double portraits evolved. The images had to be printed large scale since the work could only be viewed from the street through the shop front window. Today, I am much happier working with small prints, closer to life size. 

EA: How large are the actual prints?

CK: The image size is 8 1/2 x 11" on 9 x12" Agfa paper, so just a minimal enlargement from the 8 x 10" size of the camera negative. The hand prints were made by Brian Dowling in London, close to the time of the sittings. Our intention was to produce a master set of reproduction prints for this book. Other than this set, I have a couple of spare prints of each image and that's it. We had no idea at the time of printing that the paper would disappear soon after. Agfa went bust and Kodak, which made the second most suitable paper stock, also stopped making the paper. It's worth mentioning that the photographs are reproduced 8x10" in size in "Double Portraits"; this is a homage to the 8x10" negative format.

EA: Who was involved with the making of this book?

CK: Stephen Male did the edit and sequencing of "Double Portraits", so when I met with Leon Krempel, I had a dummy with blind text in hand. It was suggested that I approach him with a view to writing the introduction because Krempel had curated and put together a very interesting exhibition and book called "Marlene Dumas: Tronies," where he contrasted historical paintings by the Dutch Masters with contemporary paintings by Marlene Dumas. Tronies are small, isolated paintings of heads. While a rigorous art historian interested in portraiture, Krempel was able to convey what the photographs feel like, as opposed to what they look like.

EA: The book has beautiful design details. Can you tell me a little about the printing, paper and binding?

CK: Lena Mahr is responsible for many of these details. She finished the book design based on the initial design direction by Stephen Male with great diligence. The book was printed by Optimal, one of the top printers in Europe. The paper we used is 115g/m2 Phoenix Motion by Xantur. In Germany the binding we used is called "Japanese binding", but I believe in English it is either known as pouch binding or French binding. Another term for the binding is Japanese fore-edge fold. Besides the obvious advantage of printing only on one side of the paper and having no 'show through', the pages lie almost perfectly flat when opened and don't close on themselves. I have to give the printer credit for this suggestion. It made a big difference for this project.

EA: Your book launch will be September 4th (at Claire de Rouen Books) in London. Any other future plans for this series?

CK: The "Double Portraits" book is really the finished work. There are only 750 books printed and all are numbered.  I would like to produce a sequel, which would involve spending a year or so in Africa, Asia and India, but this would require external funding. And who knows if Kodak survives. One day soon there may not be any film left to take these kinds of photographs.


"The first portrait of each pair results from a carefully-established relationship between photographer and sitter. The second shot is taken a moment after the first, capturing the consequences, in the sitter, of becoming a ‘subject’. Sometimes these second portraits show us what León Krempel calls ‘sundered egos'. All of them describe the passing of time and, as such, allude to the way in which portraiture aspires to posterity."
Double Portraits. Photographs Christoph Klauke

A Limited Edition Hardcover. 156 pages, 56 photographs
First Edition, 750 numbered copies
Contact: Eudora Pascall: 44 (0) 7900 568 745



FILTER PHOTO FESTIVAL: Self-Publish + Design Your Own [Photo] Book Workshop 9.26.2013

 In The American West • Book Design by Elizabeth Avedon

Self Publish+Design Your Own [Photo] Book 

My Brother's War • Photographs by Jessica Hines
Book Design by Elizabeth Avedon
Self Publish+Design Your Own [Photo] Book 

With the emergence of high quality commercial digital presses and the availability of design software, artists are now able to produce their own hardcover and softcover books online at a relatively low cost and with the creative freedom of going it alone.

Self-Publishing Your Own [Photo] Book will cover the basic principles of designing your own photography book. Drawing on over thirty years of experience, Elizabeth will demonstrate the bones of putting together a successful photography book; demonstrate how to easily design a great book dummy, including interior design decisions, editing, sequencing, typography and cover design. We will explore what comprises good design from bad, creating a framework for the participant to build upon with their own book project; and the importance of branding, including using your self-published book as a valuable leave behind. Details here

September 25 – September 29th
Chicago 2013

Check out all of the great Programs, Workshops, Exhibitions


JESSICA HINES: Southern Stories

 Photograph (c) Jessica Hines / Southern Stories

  Photograph (c) Jessica Hines / Southern Stories

  Photograph (c) Jessica Hines / Southern Stories

  Photograph (c) Jessica Hines / Southern Stories

  Photograph (c) Jessica Hines / Southern Stories

  Photograph (c) Jessica Hines / Southern Stories

  Photograph (c) Jessica Hines / Southern Stories

 "Affectionately Lyrical" –The New York Times


LEICA GALLERY, LOS ANGELES: Exhibition Mary Ellen Mark, SEAL, Yariv Milchan

  Amanda and her Cousin Amy, Valdese, N.Carolina, 1990
Mary Ellen Mark - Leica, My First Camera

SEAL - Stopping Time

Emotions in Motion
Yariv Milchan - Leica. An Affair

MARY ELLEN MARK - Leica, My First Camera
SEAL - Stopping Time
YARIV MILCHAN - Leica. An Affair

Leica Gallery, L.A. is pleased to announce its inaugural exhibition of three photographers: award winning international photojournalist MARY ELLEN MARK, Leica photographer and Grammy award winning singer/songwriter SEAL and Los Angeles fashion and celebrity photographer YARIV MILCHAN. Through August 31, 2013

The exhibition includes 50 iconic gelatin silver prints spanning both Mark's work in cinema as well her profoundly affecting social documentary portraits. Included are several of Mark's iconic Indian Circus images as well as significant environmental portraits from the South, Seattle, as well as New York Street photographs.

In addition to her deep affection for photographing people on the margins of society, Mark has long sustained her career by bringing her talents to Hollywood and European film sets. On display at Leica Gallery are several of her powerful set and backstage portraits capturing intimate moments of movie stars such as Marlon Brando, Jack Nicholson, Dennis Hopper and Johnny Depp. Mark's photographs have been exhibited in galleries and museums from New York to China, with work in the local permanent collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum, California Museum of Photography (Riverside), Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Mark has 18 published books to her credit, including Indian Circus, Falkland Road, and Streetwise.


SEAL grew up in England and quickly established himself as a great singer of soul music. Over the span of his illustrious singing and songwriting career SEAL has won 4 Grammy awards, an MTV Video Music award and sold over 20 million albums worldwide. Seal is presently a Coach for The Voice Australia.

A self proclaimed "photography geek" and ambassador for Leica, Seal views his photographic practice as a means of connecting to people and "stopping time." SEAL has been a loyal Leica Camera collector for 25 years. He started shooting 35mm on the original M3 and more recently with the digital Leica Monochrome. His work on display at Leica Gallery includes environmental portraits from the streets of Varanasi, India as well as self-portraits.

Photographer and film producer Yariv Milchan is Israeli born, educated in France and attended college in Los Angeles. Milchan describes himself as a "self taught photographer" beginning with early internships with world famous fashion photographers that eventually led to jobs with Vanity Fair magazine. Yariv's photographs share a depth and beauty whether he focuses his lens on the stunning California landscape or the sinuous curvature of a woman's back. The common thread always sewing his body of work together is his love of capturing great light, nature and beauty. His exhibition presents a selection of both his landscapes and portraits. (Text courtesy of the Leica Gallery, L.A.)

Through August 31