Susan Bank – Street Photographer

(lively music) – Hello and welcome to
the i3 lecture series hosted by the Masters in
Digital Photography program at the School of Visual Arts. We are thrilled to have
photographer Susan Bank as tonight’s guest speaker. Susan attended Barnard College and the University of Edinburgh and became a serious
photographer at age 60. Largely self taught, she
participated in workshops with great masters such
as Mary Ellen Mark, Graciela Iturbide, David Alan
Harvey, and Constantine Manos. Susan’s first monograph,
Cuba: Campo Adentro, was selected as the best
books of 2009 by PHotoEspana. And as well by photo-eye. Her second monograph,
Piercing the Darkness, was published by Brilliant Press in 2016. It earned a 2016 Lucie Awards First Place in the Non-Professional
Monograph category. I have to say that Susan
gave herself a decade to complete that book,
and it was not too little, and it was not too much, it
was just the right amount of time to make the work sing. It’s a beautiful book, she’s
got a couple copies here, so make sure you take a look. Her solo exhibitions include Fototeca Nacional de Mexico, Pachuca, Blue Sky Gallery, Oregon, University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Silver Eye Center for
Photography, in Pennsylvania, and Hampshire College in Massachusetts. Her work is included in the collections of the Center for Creative Photography, the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Johnson and Johnson, Lehigh University, Portland Museum of Art, and the Southeast Museum of
Photography, among others. So please help me welcome Susan
Bank to our lecture series. – Thank you
(audience applauding) I’m gonna stand up for a moment. Thank you, Jamie, for introducing me, and I am very honored
to have this invitation and I appreciate your coming tonight, it’s a very historic night,
when Obama is giving his farewell address in
Chicago, oops (laughs). I know some of you are taping that, it’s quite a competition. A couple of things about me,
which Jamie did not mention. I don’t own a digital camera. And my favorite books are
family photograph albums. There are other things that could be said, but those probably distinguish
me from some others. But, first of all, I’d like
to take your photograph. Yeah, I’d like a memento
from this evening. Yeah, and if you could, when I snap your picture,
if you could say, “Fidel!” (camera winder clicking)
(plastic clanking) (audience laughing)
(Susan laughing) (audience clapping) Well, I’m thrilled that that
works, I have (laughing) I have quite a collection from Havana, of paper mache cameras and metal cameras and this one of my favorites. I’m going to talk somewhat
about street photography. I’m also going to try to weave
in the process of bookmaking. I really like the process of bookmaking, mainly because it’s a
collaboration among so many people. And, okay, I don’t prepare a speech, so I might have some lapses, so please bear with me, with my lapses. I’ve edited work from both
Havana and also from el campo. As you can see, up here, I went to Cuba more than 25 times between 1999 and 2009. And I’m extremely proud
that in that process, my film was never X-rayed
at Jose Marti Airport. Never, it was quite a
fight, but I made it. Oh, I wanted to ask, how
many people have, here, have been to Cuba or are about to go Cuba, have photographed in Cuba? Oh, that’s a good amount,
that’s a good amount, okay. Alright, this is a quote
that I took from Marquez in my Piercing the Darkness book, the Piercing the Darkness
book is my Havana monograph. Very reluctant to do
that, it’s very risky. There are so many wonderful
monographs from Havana. And they continue to be
published, almost weekly. But I liked what I cobbled
together some words from Marquez. “You can’t eat hope, you can’t
eat it, but it sustains you.” Marquez was very close to Fidel. I practically said this
before, in the interlude to Piercing the Darkness, I
wrote, To dare to interpret this tropical garden is a risky game. Photographers have come and gone before me and others will follow,
chasing butterflies, yeah. This work, by Walker Evans, Havana, 1933, probably was my inspiration to go to Cuba in the first place. I knew nothing about Cuba,
only Walker Evans’ book. And when I went to Havana,
I talk about this in the introduction to my
Piercing the Darkness. I went looking for this
man in a white suit. And of course he didn’t
exist, he no longer exists. The man in the white suit, now, is a (laughs) he’s sort of a joke. He is a little short guy, he wears a yellow, polyester stained suit, smokes his cigar, and
wanders around Havana. Wanting people to take his picture. I particularly like this
because this is a man, a very elegant man, staring out in time. This might be a strange picture
to start a slide show with, but I use this usually to start out a show on my Havana work, to make a point that you never know what you’re gonna see. And you always need to be
prepared, very flexible, and open, it’s a wonderful
place for the unexpected. And the unpredictable, I
don’t even know what this is. And I can’t remember
where I took this picture. But (laughs) I had a
lot of problems giving this photograph a title, and
this is one of the things you have to do when you
make a book, usually. I mean, usually, pictures
have titles, not always. But I used a title that is
so archaic, it’s called, I called it Waste Roll,
because nothing came to me. A waste roll is like a
castaway, and it’s so archaic. And if anybody here, can
think of a better title for this picture, I would like to know it. I’m sure it conjures up something. This is a woman whom
I’ve photographed a lot, and I particularly like this image, because I’m shooting
directly into the sun. I do that quite a bit. I’m not gonna talk about each picture, if you have a question, I
don’t mind being interrupted. This is one of my favorites
called White Feather. I wish I knew what she was
wishing for, I can guess. Cuba is very multilayered and when I did the edit, I tried to select as many metaphors as
possible, with multi layers. This is more than a laundry picture. I call this one Guardian. There’s somebody in the audience here, Azita Panahpour, who was
with me in my first class in Havana, which we took
with David Alan Harvey. And Azita put it so well, how
many photographs can you take of people standing in doorways
and behind grates (laughs)? But, I particularly like this one. Virginia and Granny’s Dolls. She’s particularly interesting, she has a collection of 200 of her grandmother’s dolls, she calls them Granny’s
Dolls from Martinique. I spent a lot of time with Virginia. I believe she’s still alive, however I think she’s blind now. Jose’s Peluqueria, I worked there a lot, the light was incredible. The light bounced off the buildings from across the street, nobody
paid any attention to me. They’re very engaged in
personal improvements. Oh yeah, I want to mention that in the process of
working, no matter where, I don’t pay money for a picture. What I do instead, is
bring back photographs to people whom I have
photographed over and over again. Or I bring them things
that I know that they need. (laughs) I had a request from one guy who wanted a prescription for Viagra. I only did that once (laughs)
(audience laughing) and Nelson, who was the director of the Fototeca, took a liking to a certain kind of salami that I would bring in,
and Parmesan cheese. So, every trip, I had to bring salami
– Can you tell us, can you tell us, because
we’re gonna see him in March. – Oh, Nelson?
– Yeah, tell us what salami to bring. – Oh, it was a form of sopressata, yeah, it was a little
bit on the sweet side. Oh, and he also really loves mustards. Mustard.
– Okay. – Yeah, really loves mustard, yeah. But most of the time, what worked for me was a bottle of Havana Club Silver Dry. The cheap kind, the cheap kind. Or jewelry, or I used to go loaded. To Havana, my suitcases,
I had so many suitcases. Stuffed to the gills. I did find a lot of humor along the way. This woman, she looks like a young girl, she’s actually my landlord, landlady, and her kids have gone to school. And she watches these videos all day long. Yeah (laughs) oh, I’m glad you laughed. I have a very large series
from Jose’s Peluqueria, I would love to do a series on it. He closed this salon a few years ago, and now he rents it out
as a bed and breakfast. This is an example of filling the frame. One of my mentors, Consta Manos, is always criticizing
me for my tunnel vision. And not filling the frame. And I feel that I was
successful with this one. Many of my pictures are imperfect. I have two voices behind
me, one is Mary Ellen Mark, who says, no matter what, get the picture. Don’t worry about
anything, get the picture. And Costa’s looking over my other shoulder and saying, get the perfect picture. (Susan laughing)
(audience laughing) This one I called Odorless,
you know sometimes titles just come to you, and
those are usually the best, your gut reaction, to a picture. I particularly like the
tension in this picture. I think this is, this is
one of my best metaphors from my Havana work, I’ve
given it a couple names, Havana Suite, Havana Quintet. I was advised by one of
my mentors to call it Dog’s Fucking, not Fucking
Dogs, but Dog’s Fucking. And that was just too obvious (laughs). (audience laughing)
Too obvious. However, this, if you get to know Havana, if you get to know Cuba, even
though I haven’t been there since 2009, this picture speaks to how Cubanos are subjected to suppression. These dogs are very passive, very passive. A carton of eggs, if
you’ve been to Havana, you’ve probably often
seen a carton of eggs being carted around from place to place. And when eggs are in,
they’re very popular, and I kept chasing cartons of eggs. And I finally found this on the Malecon. I spent a lot of time on the Malecon and I suppose many people
here do, and many have. Yeah, I didn’t frame this
well, this is poorly framed, but I still think the picture holds up. Hotel Roosevelt, you
don’t know how many times I went to this place
to get the right light. It was extremely difficult,
if you have photographed in interiors in Havana, you
know how difficult it is to work with almost no light. And this was, I don’t know how many times I went there to get this. But I finally got what I wanted. And I don’t know if you’re familiar, it’s this one is right across the street from the Hotel Astor,
what was the Hotel Astor. And each room in the hotel,
like the Hotel Roosevelt or the Hotel Astor, is an
apartment for one family. Could be several members in that family. And you risk your life
trying to get up the stairs. They’re not lit. I mean, I did this many
times, they are not lit and the railings are broken. A conversation, you’ll see a lot of signs of the United States, in Havana. I thought this was particularly humorous. The Cuban flag, her Titanic bag. I took this picture at the
CDR offices on Galiano, it’s the Committee for the
Defense of the Revolution. This place no longer exists,
I expect this man participated in the revolution, I can’t imagine that he’s living anymore. But he’s waiting, for the phone call. I’m particularly drawn to street cleaners. As in so many places that I photographed, and that are in my book,
they no longer exist. This is, yeah, the book
very quickly became a historical document,
that was not my intention. But, Los Marinos, the
first two years in Havana, I visited a lot of neighborhood bars. I took many photographs
inside neighborhood bars. I was very comfortable doing that. And it was a good situation,
because they’re open to the outdoors, and
so you had good light. And Los Marinos was open 24 hours, and it was a soup kitchen. (laughs) I happened to
be in Havana during one of the celebrations of Carnival. I don’t believe they have it regularly. This was in the month of July. And I just love this
woman with such delight, over cotton candy. Yeah, this is a beautiful moment. I befriended this woman, she is a newspaper seller. Her son is in jail. She’s got a pretty miserable life. But I was really happy to
see that she had a guy. And I call this picture
Courting With a Comb. Yeah, this is a funny one (laughing). I had a friend say,
“Oh, Susan, even brides “in Havana are miserable.” (Susan laughing)
(audience chuckling) And I pair these two,
they’re paired in the book, but in this presentation
I’ve paired them, too. I love the irony in this photograph. Jenora, under the umbrella of Hollywood. I don’t think she knows what Hollywood is. She might dream of
something like Hollywood. And this traveler here, probably
is wearing his best outfit. Which is very, in Havana,
people make a point to wear their best clothes on the street. Their presentation on the street
is very important to them. I would like to know where this man went. And this is sort of funny. It looks like a diorama to me. I visited a place that
a lot of people don’t go to photograph, go to work,
because it’s very difficult to get to, it’s Lenin Park,
and do you know Lenin Park? [Audience Member] – I
know where it is, yeah. – Hmm?
– I know where it is. – [Susan] Yeah, it’s hard to get to. It’s hard to get to, you
have to engage somebody to take you there and wait for you there, but it’s a playground for
Havaneros on weekends. That’s where everybody goes. They have amazing dancing,
with wonderful bands, they have a rodeo, a carousel, and I happen to like this one, because the Havaneros are
getting the fresh air, on a Sunday, and they’re giving their car engine fresh air, as well. It’s a Sunday airing, yeah.
(audience chuckling) Often Havaneros party in their own home. There’s sort of a myth that Havana is a party place for Havaneros. It’s actually not the case. They can’t afford to go to a place, and most of the time, they
live it up in their homes. And this was a particular family, whom I visited quite a bit,
the light was terrible. I got lucky with the light, yeah. I was particularly attached to this family because the mother was a street cleaner. Rosa, she was a street
cleaner, and her sons, who seemed perfectly
healthy, were drug dealers, that’s how they made their money. Which is very dangerous, in Cuba, to do. Yeah, limbo? I call this one the Chariot of Death, one of my landlords was a gravedigger. and I would go with him
early in the morning, to the Colon, and he would show me places that I might not really find on my own. And this is called a (speaking
in foreign language), and I was very lucky,
because I had never seen a BC taxi inside this
(speaking in foreign language). And this is the last image I’m going to show you of my Havana work. I think it speaks for itself. – [Jamie] Susan, before
you move on from Havana, can you just talk a little bit about how long you would spend, at a time, in the city and what
neighborhoods you would stay in. Where did you live? – Oh, okay, sure
– In Havana, that type of thing, I’m just curious. – Yeah, I usually, when I took trips to Cuba,
they were fairly extended, three weeks, five weeks. And I moved in and out of Havana. Havana wasn’t really my target place, it was like a stepping-off place. It was a place to come and rest. And when I lived in Havana, I started out in old Havana, which I soon realized was not the place for me
as a street photographer. And so eventually I moved
into central Havana. But it wasn’t very far from the Prado. I lived across from, I
lived beyond Galiano. Do you know the major shopping
street called Galiano? – [Audience Member] Yes, yes. – Yeah, which keeps changing,
yeah, which keeps changing. So I didn’t really go
deep into central Havana, in terms of a place to
live, because I wanted to be able to walk to what
I wanted to photograph. And I did change the way
I photographed in Cuba. I used to photograph in the evening, or in the afternoon light, partly because the sun sets in the west. And working in Cuba, I changed and began to work very
early in the morning. I was out on the streets in
Havana by five in the morning. And waiting for the first light, and also in the countryside,
does that answer your question? – Yes
– Yeah, I stayed in some real dumps (laughs) real dumps. I would have American friends, photographer friends,
visit me and they’d say, “Susan, what are you doing here?” I said, because I’m close to
what I want to photograph. I just get out of bed and get out there. I had some incredible experiences, which I won’t go into (laughs). Alright, I’m gonna move on now. Oh, I’m sorry, there was one thing I wanted to read to you from my prologue, which I wrote in the
Piercing the Darkness. It’s very short. I wait in shifty shadows
for the invisible. Where the real slips
seamlessly into the surreal. Where the mask of a
smile is always for sale. And Cubans have nothing to give, but their soul in a cup of coffee. Okay, now I’m gonna move on. Yeah, I’m gonna quote this. Landing in Havana, that
illusive, mythical citadel of contradictions and juxtapositions, one feels catapulted back
in time to the 1950s. To know Pinar del Rio, is to feel gently pulled back another 50 years. Yeah, I went to to el campo, this is the valley of Vinales. It’s not hidden, it’s really
not off a major route. And I really didn’t have any intention to work there because
I’d been friends with a lot of photojournalists
who said they had to do their tobacco story
and they couldn’t stand it. But they had to do it, because
they got paid to do it. And I just expected to
spend one or two days there. And I went to a cockfight,
and discovered a man there who we kind of locked into
each other, very immediately. And I knew I had to come
back once I met his family. Anyway, (speaking in foreign
language) is really not far from the town of Vinales. Which everybody goes to, at some point. And I don’t really like Vinales, I would go to a dollar store and buy a lot of toilet paper
and water and cooking oil and rags and shampoo, for the campesinos. And buy some fruit, maybe some
rum, and I was out of there. I really had a hard time with the place. And I think it’s probably getting worse. I read recently that
lodgings are so difficult, the taxi drivers, in Vinales,
are charging $10 a month for you, $10 a night for you to sleep in their taxi (laughs) sounds absurd. Anyway, this image that I’m showing first is actually the first image in
my book, Cuba: Campo Adentro. This could be the last image, also. ‘Cause what we’re doing
here is looking towards the two mogotes called Dos
Hermanos, Two Brothers, which leads you into the valley. This was a lucky picture,
again I shot almost into the sun, I wasn’t
gonna take this picture. And I walked away, and then I came back. And I said, okay, I’ll give it a try. And I think it worked. Gonna see a lot of Guillermo. As you can tell, in a picture,
I don’t show everything. I’d like to tell you a little
bit about this woman, Anna. I lived in her farmhouse,
it was actually illegal. And I would register in, I can’t remember what they’re called, camp
grounds, oh, campismos. Which were set up by Fidel
for Cubans, for vacationing. I would register there,
and then (laughs) often at 11 at night, one of
the campesinos would come by horseback and take
all my luggage to Anna’s. But I was registered at Dos Campismos, not knowing, I came so
often that I didn’t realize I was being followed by the local police. I stirred up a fuss,
because I just kept coming. And I didn’t know I was
being followed, of course. Until the last day that I was in el campo. In 2009, when I delivered
my book to all the families, that was something that was very important for me to do, for them to have this book. And I was almost finished
delivering and a new sheriff drove up on a very fancy
motorcycle (laughs) and I was talking with the families I had just given the book to. And he asked for my passport, yet, I don’t speak much Spanish, but I can speak enough to
understand what was going on, I think he kept me there for an hour. And I wasn’t worried because
I wasn’t doing anything that he could possibly object to. Fortunately, the farmer family
did not show him that book. I think it might have caused
some problems, for them. I’m pretty sure it would. Anyway, when I left, and
went back to Anna’s house for the night (laughs
loudly) I saw her house in the distance and word travels
very quickly in el campo. She had her shutters
closed, right (laughs)? And she dragged me in and we found out that the sheriff, on his new motorbike, visited every house in
(speaking in foreign language) asking about me. So I didn’t really have any problems. But I tend, especially
in the streets of Havana, I used to take too many
pictures and hang around and a lot of times the
police would tell me it was forbidden to take pictures, which was actually not the truth. But I was an easy target, ’cause
I just kept hanging around. I don’t especially advise that, but. Tia and Chi Chi, I worked
12, about 12 families, in this barrio, they were all related. Either by blood, or marriage ties. Consequently, some of the people had some developmental problems,
because of this inbreeding. Amario is kinda unsual, really blonde kid, with very blue eyes, and
she was very popular. I think at this point
she was four or five, and she would wander everywhere,
all through the valley. We don’t do that now, right? We don’t let our kids wander, and she’d just go from house to house. And eventually get home, when it was dark. Yes?
– What are they doing to the pig?
– Excuse me? – [Audience Member] What
are they doing to the pig? – [Susan] Oh, we’re
gonna have a pig roast, and Chi Chi is poured, he’s
already cut the throat, of the pig, and he’s boiled
water, scalding water. which he’s poured over the pig’s skin, and he’s gonna shave the pig. Yeah, fortunately, in this
picture, we miss the sound. We might have brought
this up a little more, but the fact that Amario
is holding a toy gun attracted me to take this picture. The Boy in the Rope, this
picture caused quite a fuss. When I showed it at an exhibition
at the Fototeca in Havana. I think it was 2004, my
project wasn’t completed, but Havaneros who came
to the exhibition said, “I told you so, they tie them
up, they tie the kids up.” (laughs) In el campo, which
is actually not the case. It’s not the case, but
this just reinforced the myth that they had. A lot of us, what we choose to photograph, what we choose to keep in our edit, has a lot to do with our own DNA. And I, this picture, I made this picture because at the time, it
brought up a memory for me. My mother used to tie my sister
and me to the clothesline. Yeah, tobacco bird man, yeah. This is an unusual moment
in Machista culture. You don’t see this very often. I should probably tell you that most of the (speaking in foreign language) and the buildings that you’re
seeing no longer exist. Almost everything was destroyed in 2008. In two hurricanes that blew in
back to back, Gustav and Ike. In the fall of 2008. It was interesting to
me that the campesinos had not been photographed before, unless it might have
been a school picture. And eventually, they ignored me. But still, they are aware that
they are being photographed and many of the photographs
that I have of them, appear very sculptural, or sculptural. I’m always interested in relationships, this is called Luck, Luck. I was focusing on the
turkeys, inside the house, and suddenly saw there was
a horse outside the window, I had to work really
quickly, and I took a reading from the outside and the inside and split them down the middle, and I had a very small space
in which to get this picture. I was squatting, I can no longer squat. This was taken, I think
in a fourth of a second. (laughs) And, none of
us seem to know which is the reality in this picture. Is it inside, or outside? I think this is one of
my favorite photographs from this series. – [Audience Member] Is
it a medical examination? – [Susan] He’s a (speaking
in foreign language) This is, yeah, he’s a farmer. He’s a farmer, and has
a clinic in his barrio. But the farmers don’t go the clinic, they go to Manuel, he’s a farmer. And they do call him El Medico (laughs). He gives the same diagnosis to everybody. It’s either gastritis or stress. (audience chuckling)
Gastritis or stress. They smoke raw tobacco, regularly. They drink coffee from their own beans, it’s extremely strong. And by the end of the day, I am really, I had to take Rolaids or something for my gastritis from so much coffee. You cannot refuse a cup of coffee. You cannot turn anyone down. I attended many cockfights, but I wasn’t particularly interested in the cockfight, itself. This is, Mary Ellen Mark
also subscribed to this. Keep away from the main event, circle around the outside of the event. And in this particular
case, it worked very well. Cockfights are actually legal, in Cuba. What’s not legal is to gamble. Yeah, I had never taken
photographs of animals before. Except my dogs, and cats, I
wasn’t familiar with animals. With farm animals and I discussed this with my artist daughter, I said I’m having a really hard time with animals. And she said, “You just gotta go out there “and do it and practice
and practice and practice.” And eventually, I got more
comfortable with animals. Anna was very fortunate she had a (speaking in foreign language). Everybody else had to go to the well with their water barrels and oxens. (speaking in foreign language), Which was, I really enjoyed doing that, but Anna was a step up, she actually had a (speaking in foreign language). I like this, I like the scale of this. The little wheels on the
cart, the small oxen. This is my obligatory laundry
picture from el campo. And I’m going to end this
with the Five Chairs. This is the last picture in the book, it was actually a mistake. I found out I had an
extra page in the book, and the fellow, my printing partner, printed this picture in
error, and I’m so glad he did. It’s called simply, Five Chairs. Because as photographers, you
know that there’s a story, or many stories, from
each of these chairs. And these stories will continue. Thank you.
(audience clapping) Yeah, you want me to leave that up? – Hi Susan,
– Yeah, hi. – [Audience Member] Thank
you for the exhibition, it’s incredible, this slide show. – Thank you.
– Quick question, what brought you to Cuba? What was your interest?
– Can you speak into the mic? – Oh.
– I forgot to bring my hearing aids. – [Audience Member] And
he’ll repeat the question. – [Audience Member]
Okay, I was interested in what you brought you to
Cuba, specifically, Cuba. – What brought me to Cuba?
– Yes – You could have gone anywhere
– Yeah, that’s a good question, I had done a lot of photographing in Mexico, not seriously. And, there wasn’t a really good reason. ‘Cause I didn’t know much about Cuba. A friend of mine said they
have a wonderful film school. She had been, I was challenged by the fact that it was hard to get there. And I applied for a license
in 1998, I was rejected. (laughs) Of course, went
through the whole process. And then the door opened because in 1999, the Maine photo workshops were having their first workshop in Havana. And my friend Azita, is up there, yeah, she was in that
workshop with me, yeah. So of course I was really drawn to Walker Evans’ photography. But, I don’t believe I had
a burning passion at all. Yes? – [Audience Member] Do
you remember the moment when you first fell in love with Cuba? What was the first moment that
you fell in love with Cuba? ‘Cause you said
– When I fell in love with Cuba?
– With it, yes, with the project, or the process.
– When I got suckered in? – Yes.
(audience laughing) (Susan laughing) That’s a hard question to answer. It was so long ago. And, now I’m so jaded. When did I first fall in love with Cuba? Does anybody know? I don’t, here, who knows me? Lynn, do you know? When I first fell in love with Cuba? – [Lynn] Probably el campo,
in love with the people. – It was probably, yeah,
in 2002, when I went to el campo for the first time. Of course, I love Cuban music, yeah. I have a very large
collection of Cuban music. I don’t know if it’s still true, but when I was going,
you could go to a museum, or a store that sold CDs,
and you could play them. And if you liked it, you bought it. Which is not true in the United States. So I amassed quite a collection. And I did experience one
stunning night (laughs) at a club that used to be very good. I was invited to sing on the stage with, oh, her name eludes me, she was known as the singer of feelings. Oh, Elena Burke, yeah, she invited me up on the stage to sing with her. She was a wonderful singer. She died poor, she never made any money. – [Audience Member]
Your work is beautiful. You talk about doing street photography, and it seems as though you really get to know your subjects, personally. Do you always do this? Do you always, before
you start photographing, do you get to know people? Or do you sometimes
start by photographing? And are people okay if
you just photograph them? – I wanna answer this, try to give you the
answer you’re looking for. As I said, I speak very little Spanish, which is actually, a plus,
because I can get very chatty. And if I was a Spanish
speaker, I’d probably not be taking photographs,
I’d just be chatting away. When you first start out,
and you don’t know anybody, you, or at least I, I get a sense, if the person is okay with
me taking their photograph. I don’t usually go up and
ask someone permission. But you can tell, and if you can tell, that they really don’t want
you to take your photograph, you just move right on,
you don’t try to negotiate or something, or I don’t, I don’t do that. And yes, you’re right, I did build up some very good relationships,
especially in el campo, but also in Havana, too. I tend to go over the
same steps again and again and again, I don’t know how
many other people do that, but that’s what I do, yeah. – Okay, Peggy? – [Peggy] Two questions, two questions. One, what lens do you use, it’s almost three
– You gotta speak louder, please.
– Okay, I’ll do it, So the first question
is what lens do you use? – Oh, what lens?
– Yeah. – Oh yeah
– And why does it look three dimensional to me? – Well, if I’m lucky and
get a good depth of field. I shoot with a Leica M6, and I use a 28 lens. Which is probably a
difficult lens to work with, but I like the 28 because
I can get in close. Yeah, I like the 28 for that, yeah. I have a 35 lens, I don’t
usually switch to it. Yeah, I’m really happy with that camera, and I learned how to
pre-focus it so I can get a lot of images, ’cause I’m
not very good at focusing. My eyes are bad, my
glasses are always dirty. I shoot out of the wrong eye. This eye should be open to
the periphery, and it’s not. It’s closed (laughs). Yeah. – [Audience Member] You mentioned Constantine Manos, and you
mentioned Mary Ellen Mark. Did you learn anything significant from Graciela Iturbide, I’m just curious. – Did I learn?
– From Graciela Iturbide? – Graciela, no, not much. I’ll tell you why,
because she partnered up, Lynn, in the back, can affirm with me, because she took that class, with me. It was really Mary Ellen’s class. Mary Ellen, if you knew her,
very strong woman, okay? And no way could Graciela be a
partner with Mary Ellen Mark. And also, Graciela did show her work, she talked about her work, at that point, she spoke very, very little English. So we had an interpreter, yeah. But I’m very familiar with her work, and I admire her work so much. – How bout David Alan Harvey?
– Good question. – [Audience Member] Just to round out the quartet of mentors. – Yeah, I heard he’s going
back to Cuba in February. He was not allowed to go back to Cuba. I didn’t realize this,
because some of the text in his Cuba book, well (laughs) I tell you, David Harvey
is a very fun guy, alright? He loves to party and he loves women. And what we learned, was, with him, this was 1999, was not to
talk politics with anybody. And then we learned something
that was so invaluable. We learned about nightlife in Havana. And he would take us places
and after a certain point, he’d said, “Okay, we’ve
gone pretty far down low, “would you like to go further down?” (Susan laughing)
(audience laughing) I think he did teach people, I don’t use a flash, but I
think one thing he did teach was to put a green or
brown bottle in front of your flash, and take your
picture through that glass. (Susan laughing) – [Jamie] Alright, thank
you so much, Susan. Thanks for a great lecture.
– Oh, I enjoyed it. (audience clapping)
Thank you.

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