Dancing Lilies

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More Sepia Flowers by Henry Barnard

My Story

Digital download of the JPEG file for this photograph.

If you buy this photograph, I will be sending you an email in a day or two with a link to its JPG file. You will then download the file into your computer in its Download or Picture folder or whichever folder you choose. You can use it on your PC as you will, just to look at now and then or as a screen saver after you configure your computer to use it as such. Up to you.

$2.00

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9/11 — Coming Down the Stairwell

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I stepped off the elevator on the 71st floor of 1 World Trade Center only seconds before the first airplane hit.   There was one person, a young man, still on the elevator when the doors closed.

The airplane jolted the building in such a sharp fashion that I lost my balance.  I recall having the thought it was pointless to react to the lurch in the building because if the building went over, I was dead anyway.

Only a few feet from the elevator, I was standing near a stairwell entrance, which was situated next to the entrance to my department.  A consultant I knew ran out of the department entrance, dashed to the stairwell door, and opened it hastily.  As he did so, I asked him what he was doing, and he said he had been here in ’93 and was getting the hell out.   Still stunned, I just followed him through the door without saying a word.

As we were the first into the stairwell, we were able to scurry down about 5 flights before the crush of people came in.   The trip down the stairwell from that point on was like a crowded highway that backs up to a slow go and an occasional stop, now and then.  Most of the time, the two rows of people were orderly, but when the lines slowed to a stop, panic set in, and a few people started to yell, but when the lines started up again, they would quiet down, until the next time.

Despite the fumes in the stairwell, enough to make people tear, I think most people were unaware of what had actually happened, and thought instead an accident had occurred – a plane had accidentally flown into the building.  But when we got to around the 20s, three quarters of the way down, there was suddenly talk of a second plane!  We discovered this not because we sensed anything from the second plane’s impact on 2 WTC, but because people had cell phones and the message got through to them.   And so suddenly it was a lot scarier because two planes meant this was no accident.  We were under attack.

Two fire fighters passed us by.  Both were heavily loaded with gear, and were having a hard time with the gear going up all those stairs.  When we got to around the 10th floor, I looked through an open door, and there were many firefighters on this one floor as a kind of staging area, I guess.  The water retardant system had been activated because there was a lot of water on that floor and on the stairwell steps from that point to the bottom.

When we got to the bottom of the stairwell, which ended at an inconspicuous door on the plaza or mezzanine level, there were a number of people guiding us to the down escalator and under the plaza in a complex route that brought us to the up escalator or staircase and out the door next to the bookstore facing Church Street.    This route made a lot of sense as it protected people from falling debris from both towers.  I would be curious to know who – what person – came up with this strategy?  The strategy clearly saved a lot of lives, and demonstrated cool thinking in a desperate situation.  Whoever came up with the strategy deserves recognition for it, yet I have never heard who that person was.

Of course, one cannot say enough about the people who stayed behind, at grave danger to themselves in the underbelly of the complex, to guide the rest of us in our escape, like a human chain, to safety.  They were in grave danger to themselves, indeed, because they were still there when 2 WTC came down upon them.

When I came outside, there was a policeman telling people don’t look up and hurry and don’t stop.  And of course one had an immediate urge to look up, if nothing else to finally really see what in God’s name was going on.  When I did, what I saw was a solid band of red fire high up on 2 WTC, with smoke streaming out the top of this red wall of fire.

My immediate gut reaction was that the fire was too intense for the building to withstand it.  This was no barn fire that was mostly black smoke with occasional specks of red here and there, but a virtual wall of red fire.  So I just wanted to bolt and get away because I instinctively thought the building was doomed — it would come down.

There was a large crowd across Church Street on the same block as St. Paul’s Chapel, and I remember dodging around these people to make my way through this crowd as they pressed forward to get a better view.  These same people were in the bulls-eye when 2 WTC came down, all for the sake of a better view.

I made it to just before City Hall on Park Row before 2 WTC came down.  I remember there was a kind of collective groan from the people around me, so I turned around to see, only to see 2 WTC collapse, and then a huge cloud of soot burst out from between the buildings in the foreground.

Very scared, I made it all the way to an obscure side street just below Washington Square when 1 WTC came down.    Moments after it came down, I had the strangest feeling of exultation – actually leaping in the air.   Completely involuntary, this exultation, I realized later, was a kind of visceral relief and gladness at having survived, of still being alive.    I had no control over it.  It just swept over me.

I went back to the WTC site recently to step off the distance.  I wanted to know how close a call it was.   How much time had elapsed from when I was still trapped inside the complex to where I stood when 2 WTC came down?  A brisk walk took just four and a half minutes.  But for those four and a half minutes, the photography ebook listed below would never have seen the light of day.

Manhattan, A Photographer’s Journey by Henry Barnard

 

What do you get for a one dollar contribution? My gratitude.

If you enjoyed the post, you can help me keeping blogging along with just a one dollar contribution. You can contribute more by increasing the quantity — each increase by 1 is an additional dollar. Thanks for your support in this blog-eat-blog world.

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Curated Galleries on Flickr

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Click on the link below to see my curated galleries on Flickr, all with the same theme — Imagination: Photographs in the Mind’s Eye.  When you get to Flickr, click on each gallery and scroll through the selected photographs with a glance at my written explanation why I included each photograph in the gallery.  As a photographer myself, I think it is the most challenging thing to display imagination in a photograph, even though imagination in photographs can take many forms.

Imagination: Photographs in the Mind’s Eye

 

Then and Now

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People, A Photographer’s Perspective by Henry Barnard

My Story

What do you get for a one dollar contribution? My gratitude.

If you enjoyed the post, you can help me keeping blogging along with just a one dollar contribution. You can contribute more by increasing the quantity — each increase by 1 is an additional dollar. Thanks for your support in this blog-eat-blog world.

$1.00

My Story

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“I Just Love Landscapes,” The Positive, The Camera Club of New York Official Members’ Newsletter, April, 1999

Henry Barnard always intrigued me.  I would watch him tirelessly printing and toning his many prints very early in the morning and very late in the evening, and I would wonder what he was doing with all those prints.  When I finally got up the courage to ask him, he told me the most remarkable story.  Henry is one of those hardworking New York street vendors.  Here is his story in his own words.   CL

It is one of those things you’ll never forget.  Not that it would be that important to anyone else.  But it made a big difference to me.  Let me start at the beginning.  The very first time I took my stuff out, I went to Madison to sell in front of a bank.  I had seen other photographers selling there, so I decided to give it a try.  But what happened was the banker came out and said, “You know, you’re doing something illegal.  I’ve called the police.  They should be here any minute.”  This made an impression on me.  I grabbed my stuff and was around the corner and out of site in a twinkle.  I remember running in the direction of 5th Avenue and sitting on one of those long benches they have on the park side.

I was just sitting there with my heart still pounding when I got the idea of going over to the Met.  I had seen artists there as well.  So I picked up my stuff and went to the museum and sure enough, there they were, a bunch of artists and vendors in the tree line in front of the Met, as well as extending beyond the parameter of the museum along the stone wall that runs to the street light on 79th Street.  I didn’t have a real display at the time, just propping the stuff up against a wall or whatever was available.  What was available here was that stone wall running to the street light.  There were many artists along the wall but there were a few open “spots.”  So I propped a dozen or so matted photographs, encased in a protective clear plastic sleeve, up against the wall.  Unfortunately, about every five minutes, a few of them would blow over haplessly, and I would jump off the ledge of the wall to put them back.

It soon became clear to me that just leaning such a flimsy object against the wall in such a windy environment was not working at all.  And what was worse, no one paid any attention to my stuff.  Anything right on the ground was ignored in favor of artwork on any sort of display – evidently no one wanted to buy from off the ground.  That was taboo.  After sitting there for the better part of three hours with my pictures getting blown all over the place and no one paying the slightest attention to my things, I decided to call it a day.

But I was not defeated.  I had seen the experienced vendors had cardboard displays that they taped their pictures to.  The cardboard displays were in turn taped to the ground.  These displays were solid as a rock, whether the wind blew or not.  Even better, they were getting plenty of attention while my stuff was swirling in the wind.  This brought me to Pearl Paint the next day, where I found some reinforced cardboard that was about the right size.  I bought a bunch of these and made some pyramid-type displays fashioned after what I had seen.  I also bought a nice wooden print stand made in Italy.  So I was ready for the next weekend.  Ready, with high expectations.

Despite these expectations, it rained on Saturday.  But Sunday was a pearly blue day.  Everything you could ask for.  I had noticed that on Sundays, artists also set up on the north side of the Met – an area that was nicer than the wall where I had been – so that is where I went with my new cardboard displays, my Italian print stand, and my pictures.  There was one spot left when I got there around 1 o’clock – I subsequently learned that it was unheard of for a spot to be still available that late in the day.  I proudly set up my cardboard displays, taped them to the ground, and then taped a half dozen pictures to them.  I also set up the elegant wooden print stand with another dozen or so pictures and the silent invitation to come and see.  When it was all up, I stood back with obvious self-satisfaction.  It was solid – no more pictures blowing in the wind…an attractive and clean presentation in fact.

I can still remember the pleasure – no, not pleasure, the fascination – I experienced simply watching people look at my stuff.  When someone looked in a certain captivated way, as if they had seen something that had unexpected delight for them and held them, almost involuntarily, that was virtually a transcendental moment for me then, in the early days of selling photographs when I had a certain innocence or maybe purity.  I still do experience this wonderful kind of pleasure but sadly with nowhere near the same intensity as in the early days when showing my stuff was such a novelty.

But that afternoon, the number of people who even just stopped to look at my things were far and few between, and as the minutes grew into hours and the afternoon began to wane, my feeling of dejection was growing larger and larger even as  the light was growing dimmer and dimmer.  Others in front of the Met had sold, sold all afternoon in fact, to my envy, but I had sold absolutely nothing, not even close – and this was my best stuff, prints I had slaved over, prints I was proud of!  (I would later learn that this lacerating confrontation with the ego was a big part of being able to sell photographs, that it would never go away, that it would never get any easier, and that many who try selling their own artwork, perhaps many much more talented than I, succumb to it, this brutal attack on the ego.)  And now there was only perhaps a half hour of good light left.  Yes, there was only about a half hour of good light left – when it happened.

What I remember – and will never forget, ever – was that she was a very large jolly type of woman full of exuberance.  That type bursting with life in sync with her oversized proportions.  She had in toe a husband who was a thin reed of a man, way beyond inconspicuous, as well as a tiny waif of a daughter.  The husband and daughter were like two pebbles strung to a virtual maelstrom blowing past the Met in the form of this gigantic person, a force of nature.

Even from a somewhat dazed state of mind from dejection, I could not help but hear her emphatic declaration, “I just lllllluuuuuuvvvvvv landscapes,” as she rifled through the prints in the Italian print stand with obvious relish, while clutching one print in her free, meaty left hand – a good sign.  When she finished, she asked the daughter if there was one she liked, and the daughter went through the print stand once again, but timidly, carefully, and finally, after excruciating deliberation – and a great deal of silent agitation on my part, I can tell you – settled upon yet another landscape, a picture of a wooded stream in Vermont lit up by a shaft of light on white water.

They were Midwesterners, and forthright and honest as the day is long.  The mother asked the price of the two pictures and paid without dickering.  And so, in just a matter of minutes, no more, I had made my first sale of a hand-made, darkroom photograph – no, two photographs! – to these three unlikely strangers who changed my landscape forever.

Postscript to this article:  There would follow 13 years of selling my darkroom prints in five different states including New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Rhode Island, with many photography awards along the way, perhaps reaching a zenith winning “Best in Show” at an art show sponsored by the Newport Artists Guild in Newport, Rhode Island, a far stretch from the humble beginnings in front of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.   But none of the experiences over this 13 year span ever equaled the intensity – one might even proffer the word “miracle” – of that very first sale to three total strangers who happened to be visiting New York, a city where dreams do come true.

Manhattan, A Photographer’s Journey by Henry Barnard