…scanned from my archive. Tim and Nico go out Midwest – 1974

…scanned from my archive. Tim and Nico go out Midwest – 1974

In 1974 my brothers Tim and Nico took a trip out the Midwest to visit their grandparents. My stepmother Susan was originally from Minnesota but her parents had relocated to Missouri and so the family took off for the heartland. Along the way they stopped for a visit to Mount Rushmore.

I love this shot that my father took. The quintessential snapshot would have typically had my brothers facing the camera, framed from head to toe (because we all know how important it is to include footwear in meaningful family portraits), with the four presidents shrunk to minuscule versions of themselves in the background. My father was a good photographer however and he managed to catch this quizzical pose of my brothers tilting their heads to presumably enhance their viewing of the famous landmark (I must remember to ask them why one of these days).

In a way this kind of photo is more powerful as it forces the viewer to imagine the faces of the two curious boys while adding a bit of humor to the picture and keeping the presidents framed up clearly.

The photo of Tim water skiing on a lake in Missouri was badly faded. Sometimes with older prints, the inks fade at different rates, typically the blues, which leaves the picture with a reddish cast to it. I restored the photo a bit and brought back some of the original color, a little Photshop can go a long way.

I like the portrait of my brothers taken against the side of the house, it reminds me of some of the old WPA photos taken during the Depression by the likes of Walker Evans and Dorothea Lange of workers photographed against barns and other structures out in the dust bowl. Probably a stretch considering the difference in attire and circumstances, but photos evoke what they evoke and that’s the beauty of it. More photos here…

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…scanned from my archive. Boris Lenoff, Fire Island 1958

…scanned from my archive. Boris Lenoff, Fire Island 1958

…scanned from my archive. Boris Lenoff, Fire Island 1958. While growing up, there were always certain photos that seemed to be present, either in frames on the wall, taped to cabinets, stuck to the fridge or in one of the several photo albums lying around. My father and my mother’s father Boris, were usually the photographers of most of the family photos, so they aren’t present in as many of the family photos as other family members. Boris was a professional photographer, so like myself, he was usually much more comfortable behind the camera than in front of it.

So this particular image was always very important to me because it was one of only a handful of photos that had both my grandfather and me in it. It was also taken at one of my favorite places in the world – Fire Island. This was shot on the side of our house in Fire Island Pines with the big dune that protected us from the winds and our neighbor’s eyes looming behind us.

If you know Fire Island at all, you know it is all sand and dunes, so if you don’t like sand you are in a lot of trouble. I loved sand and I loved standing next to my dad or granddad and watching them saw, hammer in nails or do just about anything with wood. So I was a really happy kid in this photo, and by the looks of Boris, he was having a good time too.

Emotional connections with photos are made through repeated viewings, and that through that process we start to develop the visual narrative of our life story. The photos on our walls, our fridge and our family albums will always be the way I remember those parts of my life, and I was so lucky to have had so many great photos to tell that story. This one will always be one of my favorites. Larger photo here

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…scanned from my archive. Mom, circa 1928

…scanned from my archive. Mom, circa 1928

…scanned from my archive. Mom, circa 1928. Mom just celebrated her 96th birthday last week. She’s here in LA, a long way from her Brighton Beach, Brooklyn roots, but she is close to her family, especially her grandson, and that is more important to her than geography. These are a couple of photos taken in her father’s photo studio which was located on the first floor of the apartment building she grew up in. The entrance to the building was on Brighton 4th street, but my grandfather’s studio was entered to directly from the Coney Island Boardwalk, just a hop, skip and a jump from the beach and the Atlantic Ocean. The studio awning prominently displayed its name - Boris Lenoff’s Photo Portrait Studio, and all family members were at one point or another required to pose for their picture.

My mom had her eye scratched when she was very young and was virtually blind in that eye all her life as a result. Now she has macular degeneration and is losing sight in her other eye. She can’t read anymore, so she listens to mystery novel after mystery novel sent to her by the Braille Institute,  a truly amazing organization. Her spirits are high and her mind is sharp and I can only hope I am in half the shape she is if I am ever lucky enough to be a nonagenarian. More photos here…

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