Category Archives: Maggie Barrett

AUGUST 8, 2015

Maggie’s Birth Day

We went to a friend’s restaurant knowing we’d have great food and a good time, and it was even better and funnier than we expected. Celebrations are great moments for making pictures for all the usual reasons; the special moment, the memories, the friends who one day won’t be around but are captured in their liveliest expressions and stay that way for us. Here are four women from 16 to 66 who span the generations yet look so comfortable and beautiful together

Often the camera does things that can only show up as visible in a photograph; that’s the magic of the medium. Maggie ‘s cake came out with a sparkler blazing away, and when I made the shot the sparkler had a fraction of a moment of less sparkle before exploding again, and in that space the shutter – at 1/ 30th of a second – was open long enough to make 2 recordings of everything.

08-8 The Girls L1032205

08-8 Sparks L1032244 copy

Then someone put on a Berlusconi mask and just as in his real life the women flocked to him. And here again an accidental ‘catch’ occurred, someone else’s flash went off just as I opened my shutter and it produced this ‘bronzy,’ garish color and hard light.

08-8 Berlusconi L1032305 copy

AUGUST 2, 2015

The Hat

We had just stepped outside so Maggie could read another chapter to me when Luana, our close friend, stopped by. She saw Maggie’s hat, and since it’s not her usual style, she wanted to try it on, and so I was witness to the give and take between two beautiful women as they played with the hat.

It was nice to be the ‘fly on the wall’ for a few moments and see the kind of fun women can have with something as goofy as a hat, and it allowed me to make a couple of portraits that had simple spontaneity and genuine expression, rather than those more reserved moments when people put on their camera face.

08-2 Maggie L1032097

08-2 Luana L1032099

JULY 31, 2015

Full Time

Being read a story in the late hours of a warm summer day is a little like being a kid again and  submitting to the pleasures of the tale and dreaming while listening. Those evening readings were pure joy and often, while Maggie was reading, I would photograph her, or sometimes make a  video so I could hold on to the sweetness of the memory of that time in our lives. That was the year we decided to come back to live full time in Italy.

The halo of light around her head in the darkening of the day, and her physical concentration and intensity, like an actress preparing for a role and searching for the ‘voice’ of the character, kept me glued to her every nuance of gesture and tone. Little observations like that, even with someone you know well, can give an ordinary moment meaning.

07-31 Maggie L1032042 copy

JULY 30, 2015

Work in Progress

This image reminds me how much work goes into a ‘work in progress,’ and ultimately how much of it gets tossed aside. While I was making the picture a day work Maggie was working on a novel and I had the daily pleasure of hearing her read the next chapter to me. And I saw how, over time, the chapters kept being rewritten, polished, and edited again, and again.

The process of building the character’s lives, framing them in the moment the story takes place in, weaving history into the overall design, as well as the impending future, and all of it kept together in this version of the manuscript sitting on the table while Maggie was rereading sections of it. Standing nearby I was reminded of the lengthy give and take of any process driven effort we may make, whether it is an unrolling daily sequence of photographs, or the continuous adding of words on a page.

All of it requires a belief in the primary instinct behind it. I have always trusted my urges in this way, and gone forward into the discovery of what may come from simply following the guide that arrived, seemingly, out of nowhere.

07-30 Manuscript L1032011 copy

JULY 24, 2015

Surprise

We had gone to the seaside for a couple of days of play, and while we were waiting for dinner on the first evening I decided to make a photograph of Maggie. We walked out to a little patch of ground surrounded by pine trees, and while Maggie was standing there a loud CRAACKK sounded, and this huge branch came tumbling down right near where Maggie was standing.

As soon as she recovered from the surprise she began to do her old mime stuff with it, and began rolling it offstage like some huge elephant dung ball. She’s funny that girl.

07-24 Maggie tree L1031822.

07-24 Maggie L1031831

JULY 13,14,15,16,17, 2015

Vienna Bound

I’m leaving tomorrow for Vienna for the rest of this week to open my Retrospective exhibition at Kunst Haus Vienna. I’m fully scheduled for talks, interviews, tours, openings, and general PR and Press. I thought I should put up a few days worth of the blog so that I wouldn’t fall behind.

07-13  The Director of Galleria San Fedele in Milan had come down to the farm to discuss an exhibition that would be centered on the spiritual qualities in my work. San Fedele is a Jesuit organization. It was a lot of fun discussing it with him as he was a knowledgeable man and had a great eye for the spiritual quality of my imagery. He selected about 50 photographs and I knew he would find the right balance – and he did. He made a remarkable show from his point of view. It was a cut I would never have considered making with my work. It pays to let other people in – at times – to take a fresh look at what one knows so well.

07-13 L1031409

07-14  Late in the day, Gianni, Luana and Maggie and I hiked over the nearby hills, and as always we lost ourselves in conversation and time. Walking this land is a privilege that I continually feel grateful for. The curves and rolling roads, the colors and textures, the ever surprising, yet now familiar places, always fill me up with the sense of spaciousness.

07-14 Maggie-Luana L1031452

07-15  Portraits of Maggie are becoming a larger part of this summer’s work. When she is out in the garden and lost in her own thoughts and tasks, I see her looking like a big kid at play.

07-15 Maggie L1031462

07-16  We went to Bologna to have a look at Morandi’s studio in preparation for a future project I would like to do there. He was known for keeping hundreds of his objects stuffed into corners of the studio, lined up under his tables and easel, piled on shelves, and gathering the dust of the 60 years since he died. (To give you an idea of how long some projects take it was only a month ago, now, in 2015, that I was able to have 2 full days alone in his studio, and they were awe filled days. This is his day bed in the tiny studio where he made all of his paintings.

07-16 Morandi's bed L1031526

07-17   Maggie on a chilly afternoon in July.

07-17 Maggie L1031558

 

JULY 12, 2015

Sonnets and Lifeboats

I never expect every day to provide a photograph of real consequence. The truth is; many days are often spent doing other tasks, working on books and exhibitions, doing chores and ordinary life basics, attending to the business of making a living and staying afloat, and so sometimes the day seems to fly by without an opportunity to really be somewhere where things are supposedly happening.

Perhaps that’s why so many images of Maggie going about her life here, making the garden that now, two years later, is something that was developing in her consciousness and in real time, and required the patience of many seasons to reach this stage of being. Part of my discipline, as you can see, is to try and make the most out of what I am given, which has always been my way as I work in the, “trust the world to show you interesting moments,” method that has been my approach all these 50+ years. So in that regard Maggie has become my local muse on the days when I have been unable to venture far beyond of the space we live in.

But there is something else at work here that needs considering; by choosing to live in Europe we have thrown ourselves into the life raft together and are each others sole companion (soul, too) most of the time, and that fact has shown me that Maggie is someone I continue to observe every day, and so for the first time in our 25 years together I was able to concentrate on the ordinary reality of watching her live. We have probably all seen the great work Harry Callahan did with his wife, and Weston with Charis, and of course there are other examples.

I have no idea what I have amassed as yet, and what the overall quality and meaning of it will be, but for now, it is like an ongoing love sonnet made with images,. These things take time and trust to build, just like Maggie’s garden.

NB: After I wrote this post I took another look at the photograph for this day and thought, what is it about This image that made me want first to make it, and now to post it? I can tell you that none of these photographs of Maggie are set up as photographs. They are the instant observations I make when I discover her doing something and I get the call. Here, I turned the corner of the house to find Maggie standing there spraying an arc onto the bushes, but then I saw the cloud and the spray in relation to each other, and then the whiteness of her shirt came into play with the cloud, and then the shirt’s slipping off her lovely shoulder in that perfect way, and then the ‘bite’ of that black strap into her soft skin was duly noted, and made me see all of her, her posture, the way her head sits on her neck, and turned slightly, so that no face is seen, but a profile of the very edge, which tells me a lot, as I can ‘know’ what her face looks like from that edge without seeing it. And then the drapery of her shirt; sculptors in ancient Greece carved those lines in marble 3000 years ago, and they were able to look in the marble drape for the curve of a hip, just slightly carrying the weight of the supporting leg so that the swell of her body beneath the cloth gets the attention it deserves. All of that is what appeared to me as i caught this glimpse of her. 

07-12 Maggie garden L1031401