It was February 24, 1979. I have no idea why we were spending a Winter weekend in Montauk but it must have been Elizabeth’s idea. I wasn’t much of a traveler yet. Elizabeth had a car. We were also great photo buddies so off we went on this short journey.
The photograph of Elizabeth at the South Hampton cemetery is on Roll #9. It’s not that I had previously only shot 8 rolls of film. I had probably shot over 1,000 rolls by that time. This was Roll #9 of my new photographic life. I had only begun to explore and experiment with extreme film underexposure and over-development. The goal was to see how far I could push Tri-X film, allowing me to shoot in very low light. The first seven rolls were tests of various sorts. Rolls 8, 9, and 10 of Elizabeth was the first real shoot so in a way this is the first successful portrait of my life as an artist. Almost 32 years later I still love it.
Elizabeth had an unusual and very photogenic face. Somewhat timeless. If it wasn’t for her camera strap I could believe the photo was taken in the mid-1800′s. She has the eyes I wish for in all my portraits. Holding the photograph in my hands, Elizabeth’s gaze seems so strong I always feel she’s looking right at me. Strong but calm and natural. Something is definitely going on in her head. I’ve always believed I have some kind of telepathic connection with my models and this photograph is where my strength and control over that connection began to take form. My bond and friendship with Elizabeth enabled an important turning point in my photography.