Charles Hahn: Blog en-us (C) Charles Hahn [email protected] (Charles Hahn) Tue, 24 Oct 2023 08:30:00 GMT Tue, 24 Oct 2023 08:30:00 GMT Charles Hahn: Blog 120 93 Elliott Landy Elliott Landy


Elliott in his Woodstock, NY. studio

Photo by Charles Hahn



     Photographer Elliott Landy was born in the New York City borough of the Bronx and currently resides in Woodstock, NY.  He found the art of photography at an early age and worked for underground newspapers in the 1960s to hone his photographic skills and use them to photograph the rock music counterculture of the times.


     Landy became an iconic photographer of many legendary music and art figures in and around the time of The Woodstock Art Festival in 1969.  His photographic images include the likes of Bob Dylan, Janis Joplin (Big Brother and the Holding Company), Van Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Joan Baez, Eric Clapton, Peter, Paul and Mary, Richie Havens, and the Band.  Elliott was one of the first music photographers to be recognized as an artist.


     Elliott has written multiple books including Woodstock Vision: the Spirit of a Generation; Photographs of Janis Joplin: on the Road and Stage; and, The Band Photographs: 1968-1969, all published by Backbeat Books. 





Friday, September 8, 2023

Woodstock, NY.





     My assistant Cheri and I are weaving and winding through a narrow half-paved and graveled country road at the foothills of the Catskill Mountains.  Through heavily wooded views we can make out a structure on our right side indicating a partially hidden driveway is quickly approaching.  We turn right into the drive and through a short passage of woods where three structures appear in front of us.  There are four other cars parked about the area and I squeeze our rented Toyota Rav4 in between the two buildings and next to one of the other cars.


     As we are getting out of our rental, a middle-aged lady walks out of the home on our left to greet us, “Hi I’m Lynda, Elliott’s wife.”  Lynda is an attractive thin woman with shoulder-length brunette hair.  As she comes towards us their cat bounces alongside of her, curiously checking us out.  We exchange pleasantries and soon Elliott appears out of his studio, the building on the right of us.  Elliott, is a tall thin man over 6 feet and much younger in appearance than his currant age of 80.  Having read books and watched videos that included Elliott, I immediately recognized Elliott.


     “Thanks for Seeing us,” I said.

     “No, thanks for coming on short notice. It’s been a very hectic day as all my days are.  We have a place in the city (New York City) we try to go to every other week and I tell people I go there to escape the stress of Woodstock.”


     We enter Elliott’s studio and immediately notice a multitude of familiar photographs all around us.  Many are hanging up on the walls and some are scattered on a table.  Elliott leads us around the lower level of the two-story structure.  A middle-aged woman appears and we share our pleasantries.  “This is my assistant, Virginia,” Elliot adds.  Virginia is an attractive lady with a medium build and medium-length brunette hair. 



     “This room used to be my darkroom, but now I use it for scanning and storage.”


     We enter a back room of the lower level where we are introduced to a young lady who is sitting at a desk and studying a computer screen.



            “This is Caitlin.  She is the designer.  She put together the Janis Joplin book and now we’re doing a second Band book.  She has a very easy job going through ten thousand photographs,” Elliott jokes.


            “It’s an honor (to work) for him,” Caitlin nods towards Elliott.


            “Caitlin is a very fine photographer in her own right as well, and that’s the reason I hired her: her skill and use of visual quality.  Her visual aesthetic.”



Janis Joplin


I notice a photograph on the wall of Janis Joplin.  “That’s my favorite photo of Janis. I love that photograph,” I remark.


            “I like it, too, and that’s why we open the book with that picture.”  Elliott turns his Janis Joplin book to one of the beginning pages and identifies the photo of Janis.

Elliott’s photograph of Janis Joplin on stage

at the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival



            “So, here’s what we wrote to go with that picture.”  He points to a poem on the page in his book with the suggestion of how Janis lived her short life as he knew her.  “It was like perfect

for Janis’ life,” replied Elliott.




            My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night;

            But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends-

            It gives a lovely light!

                        -Edna St. Vincent Millay, Published in 1918




Elliott and his new work


     We walk up a narrow winding stairway and enter the second floor of Landy’s studio.  We enter a large room with white walls and photos on most surfaces of the wall.  There are many tables and cabinets with an assortment of large color photographs covering the tops of the tables.  At the rear of the room there are shelves with a multitude of flat boxes containing hundreds of photographs of Elliott’s archives.

     “This is my newest work here.”

     “I want to see a whole wall of it. We will frame them,” Virginia adds.


     “Do you do your own framing here?” I ask.


     “We do, actually.  We just did for this (Elliott gestures towards his new, color photography) because it was for a show.  The show was in France.  I haven’t started to sell these yet.  I want to show them to the art market, not to the photography market.

     “This is the way the picture comes out of the camera using a filter.  I don’t manipulate it.  All we do is print it.  It’s hard to get it printed to make it look like the original work.”

Elliott holds up a printed photo

from his recent project.


            “What kind of printer do you use?” I ask.


            “I use an HP.  I have a lady that prints for me.  She used to come every day, but now it’s just once a week.”



     “Can we (sit) get comfortable?  I would like to ask you a few questions, take a few photos, and get out of your hair.  I don’t want to overstay our welcome.”


     “Oh yeah, thank you.  I couldn’t schedule a session with you until yesterday because I didn’t know what was happening.”


            “How long have you been here at this facility?”


            “In this house? Twenty-three years.  Before that I lived for two years - I was renting a place in West Hurly overlooking a reservoir.  Then for ten years before that I was living on hill 99 in Woodstock.

            “I first met Lynda in college in 1960, I think.  We hadn’t seen each other in 37 years and we re-connected and we’ve been together for 23 years now.

Photo by Charles Hahn



When It all started


            “When did you first pick up a camera, and do you remember the moment a light when on in your head and you thought this is something you wanted to do?”


            “Really, I picked up the darkroom first.  When I was fourteen years old, we were at a bungalow colony for the summer.  They had different activities.  One of the activities was the darkroom, and I went in there and never came out.  I was just totally attracted to the darkroom.  The chemicals and the process of making contact prints.  They had like a 2 ½ inch negative from a Kodak Brownie camera.  I wound up being the assistant counselor for the darkroom.  I showed people how the make contact sheets.  How to develop the prints they made.  I would mix the chemicals with the thermometer and stuff and I was just totally I love with it.  I had no interest at all in photography.  It was nothing about photography.  It was something about the darkroom.  It was home.  Forget tennis, forget boating, I was never an outdoor person, I was an indoor guy.”

            “My parents had an old Kodak Brownie camera.  So, I just took a few pictures of my sisters because I needed my own film to make a print to play with.  I wasn’t interested in photographing at all.  I look back at those pictures now, that I didn’t have for many years.  When my mother passed away, I got them.  I found them again and they’re really good photographs.  If a young person showed me these photographs and said, ‘Do you like these photographs?’  I would say wow, they’re really good photographs.  Instinctively, I was a good picture taker.  I wasn’t even thinking of composition, I guess I was feeling it, but I had no concept of it.  I was never able to take a straight-on boring picture.  I was totally ignorant of the idea of photography.”

            “Do you remember the first time you were published?” I asked.


            “Before I even had a camera of my own, I borrowed my older sister’s Polaroid camera and a very shaky tri-pod she had.  I was going out to Fire Island and I took a picture of a full-moon over one of the sandy beach streets.  I took it over to the Fire Island News and they published it.”


     “After college I had an office job and after six months, I knew I didn’t want to be in the office.  I had only taken the office job to save money to travel.  I had to decide what to do, and it was one of two things:  I wanted to go out with girls, and I wanted to take pictures.  While I was working this office job, I was working in Manhattan at 72nd Street and Broadway, and I noticed a building that was quite ornate.  I was standing in the street and I thought, wow that’s incredible.”


     “I wanted to share that with somebody, and I looked around to see if I knew anybody by chance.  I didn’t know anybody, so I thought I should get a camera.  That was the moment I decided I wanted a camera.  I first got myself a Nikorette which was an amateur, smaller quality Nikon camera.  After a week and a half, I switched out.  I got a better Nikon camera in which I could take the viewfinder off and look down into it.  So, immediately my creative instincts surpassed what was available in the camera I bought.  So, it was as if something came back to me like from a past life or something like that.”


            “Getting the Nikon camera came after the Polaroid experience. I did so well with the Polaroid I wanted to get a camera where I could control it.  So, I decided I would like to make money with photography.


            “I got myself an enlarger, which I put up in my parents’ kitchen at night.  Made some prints.  Then I wanted to take a class or two in it.  Photography was not considered an art form in those years.  There was only one class of note: hi-quality photography coarse at the New School of Social Research.  Lisette Model was teaching it.  I applied for the monitor’s position which means that I wouldn’t have to pay for the class.  I would take attendance to make sure everybody came in and was registered.”




Time as a student


            “I remember meeting with Lisette Model, and she just loved my pictures.  They (the photographs) were stuff made on a federal enlarger in my kitchen in Manhattan and the Bronx.   A young person I needed that support.  In my later years, I wish I had the opportunity to teach a little bit, not just to do portfolio reviews of younger people.”



            “When I decided to become a photographer and I got my camera, I had gotten an apartment on 88th Street and Broadway.  A two and a half room apartment.  I put up a background paper in the living room and I started to offer to do portraits for actors.  I put in an ad in Backstage newspaper.  I built a sink in my bedroom and an 8-foot wooden waterproofed sink.  So, I was really committed.   I have some of those prints, and some of them are striking, great photos.”


            “I developed my skill set after Lisette Model.  I had no participation in class whatsoever.  All I needed was that first meeting with her and the rest of it (the class) had no meaning to me.”


            “The second class I took was with a guy named Lawrence Shustak, who was a great New York City photographer.  He was a street photographer of graffiti and all that.  He was really my mentor.  I took a class in advance photography.  I became the monitor for that.  I used to come in early and mixed the chemicals for him and stuff like that.  I worked as his assistant and we became friends later.  From him, I was taught the perfection of photography and how you could stand all day long to make one print in the darkroom, till you get it right.  You just do it and do it until it’s right, and this is what you do. I really learned how to be an artist.  I learned the craft of being an artist.”




Photography as an occupation


            “My first job was going to Denmark and working for 6 months and it was a magical time for me.  I had to photograph some scantily clad women.  I tried to get these photographs back from this Danish film studio.  It was in 1967.  I had the chance to stay on and on.  There were other things I could do there. The Vietnam war was happening and I wanted to get back to the states to do what I can to stop the war.”


            “The first thought I had was I would go to Vietnam and take pictures to show how bad war is.  My second thought is I don’t want to be shot and be hurt or killed.  There were peace demonstrations and I wound up working for the Westside News.  They were very liberal and they got me a police-press pass which got me into the demonstrations without getting hit by the police or pushed around.”




Start as a music photographer


            “Then I started working with a newspaper called the Rat Subterranean News.  It was an underground liberal newspaper.  I became the photographer for that.  One night I was walking home in the lower eastside, and I see a marquee that said Country Joe and the Fish – Lightshow.  I had no idea what that was.  I walked over to the box office and I heard the music from the inside.  I showed my police-press pass and they let me in.  I was greeted by this incredible light show.  It wasn’t like a screen.  It was a whole wall filled with moving imagery that was with rhythmic time to the music.  It was phenomenal.  I was in back (of the theater) and I had my cameras with me, and I wanted to get closer to the stage. And that’s how I started photographing music: just by chance.  I wanted to photograph rock-n-roll people.  I say in my book that I was never a fan, that I only photographed the musicians because I liked the experience of being at the concert.  But also, when I was doing it, I was proselytizing and I was publishing pictures that would hopefully bring people into this new culture.  Smoking grass was part of it.  You wanted to do what YOU wanted to do, not what they wanted you to do.  You entered the Fillmore East, and people handed you a joint as soon as you entered the theater – not quite exact.  It was just a new culture; you could dress any way you want.  You’re supposed to do your own thing, which means find your own thing and what you like in life and learn to live from it.”




            “For me, when I was taking the rock-n-roll pictures, I was saying pay attention to these people.  The stars were the same as the audience.  They were really all the same people, and they all were against the war, and they would speak out against the war and smoking grass and being free.  It was only a lifestyle.  To me it was only proselytizing.” 




            “That led me to the second concert after Country Joe; it was Janis Joplin.  So I went up there, and I was able to go backstage because I had cameras and there were no other photographers around and you were able to do that.  Linda Eastman was actually back stage the whole time.  I have pictures of her with Janis.  I always think I should have contacted her when she was married to Paul because we were very friendly at the time, but I never did.”

The Jimi Hendrix Experience, (Billy Cox, Noel Redding), Joshua Light Show, Fillmore East, NYC, 1968. Photo By ©Elliott Landy, LandyVision Inc.

Jimi Hendrix at the Fillmore East in New York City, 1968

Photo By Elliott Landy








First Meeting with the Band and Bob Dylan





            “I got an assignment with a magazine to photograph Janis; to photograph her and Big Brother and the Holding Company.”


     “Bob Dylans’s manager, Albert Grossman, was Janis’s manager also and (once) threw me out of a Dylan concert because I was photographing.  But then he forgave me.  He (Grossman) saw some photographs that I dropped off (to Grossman’s office) of Janis.  One night I was photographing Janis at the Club Generation (it became Ladyland), a small club in New York City with low ceilings.  Big Brother was playing. You can’t hear a thing, and someone taps me on the back and I see it was Albert, and he goes like this (Elliott motions with his hand as if beckoning someone), like follow me.  I don’t know if he’s going to throw me out again or why he's there and why he’s doing this.  He takes me into the back and into a large utility closet with brooms and cleaning liquid and buckets and stuff.  He says, ‘Are you free to take some pictures next weekend?’   I said, yeah.  What Band is it?  He said, ‘Well we don’t have a name yet. We were thinking of maybe the Crackers.  Or they won’t have a name at all because they don’t want to be pigeon-holed into doing a certain kind of music.’  What’s a better word or synonym for pigeon-holed?  Anyone who’s reading this article please write in.  Okay, Albert says, ‘I want you go and meet these people.’  So, I went up into this recording studio in New York City where the Band was doing some mixing and stuff.  They were through recording Big Pink already, and I met Robbie Robertson and I showed him my photographs I brought.  Mostly, I had performing shots because I thought that’s what they would want.  I didn’t know what they wanted at all (actually).  Robbie says, ‘That’s not really what we’re interested in, but I really like the pictures and yes you can do it.’ I also had some portraits I had taken of actors.  So, that worked out, and that’s how I met the Band.


     “After that meeting, we then went to Toronto and then to Woodstock a few times.  I kept working with the underground newspaper, the Rat.  At some point when I was doing the photographs for Big Pink, I met Bob Dylan.  It was at a party at Albert’s house, and it was just a very brief introduction.  We didn’t even shake hands.  But then some months later, after we finished the Big Pink thing, Dylan had agreed to allow himself to be photographed for the cover.  He had agreed to have his picture on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.


     “When I photographed Bob, we got really friendly. I was the closest to him and connected to him in terms of the conversations we had and stuff.”








     “Did Bob live far from Big Pink?”

The house nicknamed Big Pink by members of the Band and

became the title of the Band’s first album.

Photo by Charles Hahn.





     “Well, it was in the same neighborhood.”

312 Bob Dylan, outside his Byrdcliffe home, Saturday Evening Post session, Woodstock, NY, 1968

Elliott took this photograph of Bob Dylan at his

home in Woodstock, NY. 1969






The process of film developing and printing during the Big Pink days


“What was your process of developing and printing during the Big Pink time frame?”


            “Big Pink I was still in New York.  I processed the film in my darkroom in New York.  I was very careful about it.  I learned from Shustak.  Color film I had done by a lab.  I never processed that.”

A portrait of The Band shot in Rick Danko’s basement in Woodstock, N.Y. 1969

Photo by Elliott Landy



     “How did you get into the infra-red film?”


            “When I was in Denmark to start with, I met a guy, a German photographer, who showed me infra-red pictures he had taken.  He had showed me a whole slide sheet.  I thought they were very nice.  So, I remembered it and I wanted to explore it myself. I was just starting to do that when I met the band, so I was in my infra-red period, I call it.  It’s very hard to take infra-red colored pictures because the focus is different.  It’s not a visual focus.  You can focus visually but then you would have to look at a scale on the lens and then move it over a little bit.  Look at the lens scale and calculate the differences.  But I managed to do that.  That was just an experiment.”

            “I always liked to experiment with things.  Being 80 years old now, I see my pattern that once I’ve done my genre of work, I’m not interested in continuing it.  It’s not how good it is or how nice it is; it’s the newness of something and the floriation of it.  Once I’ve mastered it, and I don’t think about it like that, but I observe looking backwards, that I just don’t have the interest to keep doing the same thing.”

            “Even things like mother and baby photos.  I love to photograph mother and child.  I’d love to get some opportunities to do that.”

Bob Dylan in Woodstock, N.Y. with infra-red film, 1969

Photo by Elliott Landy


            “Have you processed your own color film?”


            “I experimented once.  I didn’t mind it.  It was just a lot of time and a lot of work, and I really didn’t like to spend time at work.  You know what it is again when I say, I should do only things I know only I can do.  Someone else can process and make prints.  I had a darkroom printer, a woman that worked for me 6 or 7 years in the darkroom.  She was just a better printer then I was.  I would stand next to her, she would make a proof, and I would look at it and say, ‘This is what I’m talking about but, lighter.’ I was printing it, but it was her hands and her aesthetic also.  I told her the chemistry to use.




Robbie Robertson and his documentary film


     “Robbie (Robertson) just passed away.  Can you talk about him and some of your experiences with Robbie?” I asked.


            “He was the point person for the Band.  When I dealt with them, it was always with Robbie.  I was friendly with the other guys.  For example, Levon and Rick had a house together after they left Big Pink. They said, ‘Man anytime you’re in Woodstock you can just crash on our couch.  Come on over, you don’t even have to call.  You’re welcome to come over and hang out.’   I had a very comfortable relationship with all of them, but any talk of business or getting our pictures right, it was always with Robbie.  And, he would always have a chuckle.  He was always chuckling about things and saw the absurdity of the way people lived, and I had a very nice relationship with him.



            “According to the documentary, Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band, they all considered each other to be brothers with each other.  Can you comment on that?” I asked.


            “Yeah, they did an early interview with me about it.  That’s what I said to the film makers; I said they were brothers. 






     Elliott goes on to say in the documentary, ‘It was very clear the moment I met them who they were and what they were about.  They (The Band) were very grounded. They were very strong.  They were very secure.  They were gracious like country people are gracious, and they were totally in love with their music, and they were in love with each other.  I never saw any jealousy; I never saw any arguments.  I never saw them disagree; they were always supporting each other.  They were five brothers.  Very clearly five brothers who loved each other, and I never saw anything but that.  In the 60s, part of the rebellion was rejecting one’s elders, rejecting one’s parents.  The guys in The Band wanted to say ‘Hey, that’s not right.  We love our parents.  They worked very hard to bring us up and care for us.’  And so, they wanted to have a picture of their families in the album.”


     “When that film premiered at the Doc Festival in New York, I was there in the audience and Robbie was on stage with Daniel (Daniel Roher), the Director of the film and somebody asked a question about one of the pictures.  Someone said, Elliott Landy who took the picture is in the audience.  Robbie said, ‘oh wow, he was one of us.’  Robbie didn’t want to be bothered with other photographers so, Robbie let me in (allowed me to be close).  I was the only photographer Robbie would let photograph The Band.  Robbie didn’t want to deal with press and all that stuff.  Robbie said something like, he (Elliott) was a partner in crime, or something like that.   It was an acceptable phrase in those days.”




The film of the time


     “During those days what kind of film did you use?” I asked.


     “It was always Tri-X.  My teacher, Larry Shustak, showed me to develop it in Ilford Microphen developer, which is a re-usable developer.  He showed me how to develop it in deep tanks, and I could develop 9 rolls of film at one time.  I would shoot Tri-X at 800 ASA (instead of 400), and the Microphen would give me a much better grain.  D-76 is a horrible developer.  I could always tell a D-76 photograph because of the granular structures.   I was fortunate.  I was lucky he taught me that.  Everything I ever did with film was based on Microphen, until Kodak T-Max came out.  T-Max can be softer.  So, I started using T-Max.  I took a series of pictures. I was living with a young woman and her three-year-old child for two years and photographed them for the whole 2 years.  It developed very softly; had a feminine feel to it.”



The use of sepia toning



     “Did you do any sepia toning at that time?” I asked.


     “Oh yeah. I did of The Band.  The Music from Big Pink picture was my idea.  I’d gotten to know them, and I realized they were very grounded and very much old fashioned in some ways.  I’d gotten a book of Mathew Brady photographs.  I said, ‘That’s the style that they belong in.’  Those pictures were all sepia-toned pictures from that era (Mathew Brady lived between 1822-1896).  So, that picture (of the Band) was always in my mind, meant to be sepia toned.  But I didn’t have the control or the input, and so they published it in black.  When I publish it myself, it’s always in sepia tone, because I can control it.  Also, I make prints in sepia tone and black and white so someone can choose.

A sepia-toned photograph of The Band, 1969

Photo by Elliott Landy






Time to say goodbye


     Time was running out on our visit with Elliott, and I asked him to bring one of his photographs outside for me to shoot a picture of him holding it.

My photo of Elliott holding a photograph he shot for the cover of the Bands' second album



     Elliott Landy is a very kind gentleman.  We will forever be thankful for the time he allowed us and his willingness to share the wonderful stories of his career.

Selfie by CH


[email protected] (Charles Hahn) Fri, 20 Oct 2023 14:51:53 GMT
Richard Sandler Richard Sandler

Photo by Charles Hahn

Richard Sandler, a street photographer and filmmaker, was born and grew up in Queens, NY.  He published his book The Eyes of the City by Powerhouse Books as well as directed and produced the documentary film The Gods of Times Square. His innovative work is part of the permanent collections at such institutions as the Brooklyn Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, Texas.  He was awarded the New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship for photography, a John Simon Guggenheim Foundation fellowship for filmmaking, and a New York State Council on the Arts fellowship also for filmmaking.

Richard’s book contains photographs

between 1977 and September 2011




Catskill, New York

Saturday, September 25, 2021

11 am



Catskill is a town of roughly 11,000 people and almost 124 miles north of New York City along the Hudson River.  Cheri and I, riding in our rental car, pull up across the street from Richard’s apartment.  Richard is waiting outside for us, not far from the Rip Van Winkle Bridge which crosses the Hudson.  Richard is a tall and slender man who looks much younger than his age of 75.  He wears a black beret, jeans, hiking shoes, a pair of modern glasses, and a Leica film camera dangling down his side by a strap around his neck.   We say hello and we exchange pleasantries as Richard explains he doesn’t have too much time.  “My car is broken down and I need to jump on a train to New York City in a couple of hours to look at a new one.”


He invites us upstairs to his apartment on the second floor.  As we enter, we walk down a hallway to the living room.  The walls of the hallway are lined with Richard’s incredible black and white photographs he printed himself in the darkroom within the apartment.  The living room is filled with artwork and printed photographs framed on its walls.  Bookshelves filled with books line the apartment.  Under the windows that face the street, roughly 1,000 vinyl record albums are lined up on the floor with a turntable at the center. There is a couch facing the window on the opposite wall with two end tables and a saxophone on its stand off to the side.


            Richard is a gracious host, and the apartment is kept quite clean and tidy.  I have many questions to ask Richard, but the time seems to go quickly.  Very proud of his record collection, Richard plays a few of his records during our visit, asking many times, “What would you guys like to hear?”



Photo by Charles Hahn



            I glance down to see the saxophone on a stand.  “Is that another passion of yours?” I said, nodding towards the instrument.  It didn’t seem to take much prodding as the sax is swept up, and Richards starts playing.  The window is open, and he serenades a lady sitting on a bench on the opposite side of the street.  She smiles up at our window, and Richard has a look of delight in his eyes and continues to play.






After a while we get to talk a little bit about photography. I shoot a few photographs of Richard and he shows me his darkroom. 

Richard in his darkroom

Photo by Charles Hahn





                Time flies by and it’s time for Richard to catch his train to the city.  We drop him off at the train station in Hudson, another small town about 20 minutes north of Catskill and g the Hudson River.  We agree to a phone interview the next available weekend and say our goodbyes.












Phone interview

Sunday, October 8, 2021

6:30 pm




“Richard, you mentioned in a YouTube video during a B & H Photo workshop that you had taken a workshop instructed by famous street photographer Gary Winnogrand.  Can you speak a bit about how that went down and is there anything you particularly remember from that time with Winnogrand?” I asked.  “When I first started photography in 1977, I was living in a house of a psychology professor named David McClelland at Harvard University.  I was with other wonderful people living in a communal situation.  We would have incredible people come over to the house to visit.  People such as Buckminster Fuller, Harvey Cox, Timothy Leary, and John Cage.  Just an unending stream of people who were sort of in the far-left, liberal intelligential community.  It was in that house that Mary, McClelland’s wife, gave me her Leica camera.  Mary had a darkroom in the basement, and she taught me how to print photographs.” 


“In 1977 a guy named Ben Lifson, a photography critic at the Village Voice, was teaching a one semester class at Harvard.  Ben allowed me to sit in on one of his photography classes and that’s when I learned that Gary Winnogrand was going to instruct a four-day workshop in Boston.  So, I signed up for his workshop and to my amazement there were only about seven people in attendance for the class.” 

“The first night Winnogrand gave a talk separate from the workshop at the Photographic Resource Center in Boston.  He spoke with a slide show and there were no less than five-hundred people there.  I didn’t realize what a star he was at that time.  As part of the workshop the next two days, we went out in the street as a group, shot pictures, and developed them in the darkroom each night.  We came in the next day and put our pictures on the wall.  We as a group with Winnogrand talked about pictures.  When we put our pictures on the wall, Winnogrand did not say anything most of the time.  He just looks and he walks away.  Then he looks at more and walks away again.  If he likes a picture, he would tap it with his knuckle and moves on.  No words.  A couple of the kids in the workshop got pissed off because Winnogrand wasn’t talking about pictures.  The kids wanted more direction from him: What makes a picture work? What doesn’t make a picture work and why?  But that’s not the way Winnogrand operated.  The way he operated was he tapped the picture, he tapped one of mine.  One of the other students said, ‘What does the tap mean?’  Winnogrand said, ‘I can’t tell you what that means.  All I can tell you is it’s got the energy.  It’s got the juice.’”


Richard goes on, “Winnogrand wasn’t playing with our heads or anything, but he was superstitious.  What Winnogrand said was ‘If I start talking about what makes a picture work, I may upset the muse or the magic, whatever you want to call it that makes this stuff work in the first place.  I only want to talk about the ones that work.  I don’t want to talk about the ones that don’t work and why.  I think it’s more helpful to say this one got the juice.  So, you go back and you look at your work and you find out for yourself. You learn yourself.’  That is all it was about and it never went beyond that,” Richard said.


“All pictures are about form and content.  Sometimes the form is stronger and sometimes the content is stronger.  The best pictures are the ones where the form is threatening to overwhelm the content, or the content is threatening to overwhelm the form.  Winnogrand was so articulate during his speeches, but during the workshop, he was never critiquing other people’s work.  So, when he looked at our work during the workshop there were very few pictures that got the knuckle of Winnogrand,” Richard laughs.


Photo by Charles Hahn





Photographing in the Subway


Richard has taken many photographs in the 1970s and 80s in the New York subway.  “Shooting on the subway as far as I was concerned was way more challenging than shooting on the street for lots of reasons,” Richard said.  “One is you can’t keep walking in a subway car.  If you take a picture, you’re trapped in the car and it’s hard to disguise what you’re doing.  You’re kind of winging it and you have to have big balls to do it.  Although, in my pictures, I’m not photographing particularly dangerous people, I’m looking for romance or something.  I’m looking for that angelic kind of moment that transcends.  The subway is just like a vehicle, where everybody is in kind of a daze.  Being underground, people are not so much aware of the time.  It’s like a nebular wall.  The subway is the bloodstream of New York where the squeaky sounds rhythm you into an hypnotic state.  Thoughts start running and your world starts flashing before your eyes.  It feels like the most honest part of New York to photograph people in.  On the street you put on airs, but in a subway, you’re just thrown into a car with a random sampling of humanity.  Each car has its sort of people and dynamic or odd juxtapositions and it’s a good place to photograph if you want to be juxtaposing people.  People are just more revealed and revealing on the train than on the street.”


“I wasn’t thinking of anybody’s pictures except maybe Walker Evans’s pictures.  Evans would sit on the subway with a hidden camera using a cable release where his pictures were utterly disguised.   During that time the subway was different; it was way more dangerous than it had ever been when I was photographing it.”


“Did anyone approach you after you shot a photo and asked you what you were doing?” I asked.  “Yes, absolutely, and I learned ways throughout the years to defuse situations.  I never got mugged or hurt on the train and evaded trouble.  In one case I had to run because a bunch of kids were surrounding me.  It was two o’clock in the morning and they were going to roll me for my camera, and I was so adrenaline-juiced that I outran them.  It was the 103rd Street stop on the Broadway line.


“I only got hit a couple of times, and that was on the street, not on the subway.  I got creamed by one guy, but I was able to blunt and duck most the assault.”

Photo by Richard Sandler


            “I have a son that I would stash with my parents, and I would get on a train and into the city. I was pretty obsessed.  But I also knew I couldn’t get hurt, and I had to watch my ass.”



Using a Strobe on the Street


“When did you start using your flash or your strobe while shooting on the street?” I asked.  “From day one, the people who mentored me in Boston taught me how to use the flash with a long shutter speed.  They showed me how to meter for the ambient light, bring the shutter down to maybe an 8th or a 15th, or maybe a 25th of a second for the ambient light using a shutter priority.  I only used it on dark days.  That way I could use F8 at 15th of a second for the ambient light and use a little bit of flash.  Just enough to have the foreground stand out from the background.  I would deliberately underexpose for the background.  The 25th or 8th of a second wound create blur in the background but would create utter sharpness when the flash went off, creating a ghosting.”

Photo by Richard Sandler



“How did you get acclimated to get into people’s faces with a flash?” I asked.  “I don’t know where or how, but I could do that thing.  When I think about it, it was so audacious.  I wouldn’t dare do that now.  When I first started photographing, I was in Harvard Square in Cambridge and I shot a photo of a guy and it looked so cool to me.  I thought I wanted to do this all the time.  So, I did it in Boston and when I hit the streets in New York, I did it too.  In New York I was home. I came back to my hometown.  I was a brash kid.”



            “I occasionally shot with Bruce Gilden who was originally a childhood friend of mine.  Very often we would walk around together.” I asked, “Did you both shoot flash during the same walks when you were together?”  Richard replied, “Yes, and occasionally there would be a gang-bang: He got his picture and I got mine.  We are from the same world he and I.  We were recognizing the same characters.  Bruce was very helpful to me when I moved back to New York, and he also started before me.  Bruce made some amazing pictures.  In 1973 or ‘74 Bruce made his Coney Island book which was utterly brilliant.  He introduced me to the photo world of New York in the late seventies-early eighties.


A Meeting with John Szarkowski at MOMA


            “I took my pictures to MOMA.  Probably 1984 or ‘85.   The deal was you could take your pictures to MOMA on a Monday and pick them up on a Thursday.  If they wanted any of your work for their permanent collection, they would leave a note in your portfolio case.  So, I went there to pick them up on my appointed day.  There was a lobby that accompanied the photography department.  Sitting at the receptionist desk was a woman named Susan Kaczmarek who was second in command at the photography department at MOMA or Oz.  I call it Oz because John Szarkowski and she were like the wizards of Oz.   They were the makers of popular photographers.  Particularly Szarkowski because he was like a god.  He was Oz.”


            “So, I approach the desk and Kaczmarek asked me my name and handed me my folder of photographs.  I turned around to leave and immediately standing behind me was John Szarkowski.  Comes up to my face and says, ‘I saw your pictures, I know who you are.  I like your pictures.’”  Richard goes on, “Szarkowski closed his eyes and shook his head once or twice.  With his eyes closed he said, ‘I liked them very much.’  He opened his eyes, looked at me, and said, ‘I hope you receive the recognition you deserve before you’re seventy years old,’ and walked away.  That comment was somewhat prophetic because here I am now, my book is published, and I’m seventy years old,” Richard quips.


            Richard goes on to say his style of street photography is a little late in getting to MOMA. He believes there would have been a better outcome if he applied five to ten years earlier.



Photo by Charles Hahn



[email protected] (Charles Hahn) Sun, 01 Oct 2023 11:49:42 GMT
Phil Penman Phil Penman

Phil Penman


A remarkable street photographer born in Briantspuddle, Dorsett, England.  Phil Penman found his way to New York City after a short tenure in Los Angeles.  Originally, Phil worked for a celebrity news agency where he covered news stories that included celebrities of all sorts. 

A graduate of the Berkshire College of Art and Design, Penman moved on to representing Leica cameras as he tours and holds workshops around the world.  You can see Phil’s incredible street scape photography on Instagram or pick up his book, Street, G Arts publishing on amazon.





Friday, June 24, 2023



My assistant Cheri and I are meeting with Phil at the Starbucks coffee shop on W. 15th Street just a half block from the Chelsea Market in the Meat Packing District of Manhattan.

Phil, a Tall thin man is wearing a black shirt and pants with a Yankee baseball cap on.  He carries his Leica M10 camera with him wherever he goes.  We meet, shake hands and exchange pleasantries as we find an outdoor table to sit and chat.


“Where are you from originally?” I asked Phil.  “Originally?  England.  Phil goes on to say he’s been here for 23 years now.  He moved over to Los Angeles and hated the place.  Got out as quickly as possible.  “It was hard to connect with people and I was flying out of the country like, every week.  It was more of a base camp.” He was working for an English press agency based in LA and it became the biggest press agency in the world by the time he finished.  Phil was employed by the agency because it was the easiest way to get a working visa which is very difficult to get.  He gave up the copyrights to his photographs for a better deal, a new car, residency, etc.

Living in New York

Phil goes on to say that he lives in a condo, “It’s like a subsidized housing for artists.  A rare artist complex as there is, maybe two such condos in the city.  You put your name on a list and you wait for fifteen years.”  He says, he’s lived there for 8 years now and loves it.  “Everyone dies there,” Phil jokes.  “They subsidize you to help you in your talent so, like Alicia Keys, Larry David and Kelsey Grammer, all these people came through the system.  A lot of them still live there as well.  Manhattan Plaza, there’s a documentary about it.  It was originally designed for luxury housing in the 70’s.  They couldn’t fill it so they found funding available to help cover the financing if they could fill it with 70% artists.  It’s a great place and you recognize half of the people there.”  Phil says he and his wife will hear singing, go out on their balcony and witness some kind of a Tony Award winning performance.


            Penman came into photography at fifteen years of age, because his dad was also a photographer.  He started working in the industry when he was about eighteen – nineteen.  He went to college for 4 years to study photography as well.  “I’ve been working in photography for thirty years and professionally for twenty-seven.” 


The difficulty of the photography business. 

 “In the news world, trying to keep a girl friend is impossible. Because you’re flying every day.  It’s not like they give you much notice.  We’re sitting here and you’ve got one hour to get to the airport.  You don’t have a personal life.  I did the agency thing for like 5 years and it’s just like, I gotta go free-lance.”

The celebrity business


“How did you get into the celebrity business,” I asked.  “That is what brought us into this business.  My love for being in this country was more than staying in England and, the compromise was I had to work for an agency who’s bread and butter was celebrity.  Back in the early 2000’s it was considered like the golden years.  It was a compromise and you can’t do that for long though.  It’s a horriblly tough business.”


            “What’s the process of celebrity photography,” I asked.  “I quit in 2015 and I was dwindling out of it.  But there it was a huge rivalry you had between People Magazine and US Weekly.  They were paying crazy money to out-bid each other for pictures that weren’t worth that much.  You may have to invest a lot of money to get these pictures.  You could sink $20,000 of your own money to getting the picture and then you got to sell it.”


            “How did you know a particular celebrity was going to be somewhere?”  “The majority of what you see today is set up.  The very popular celebrities would control their own publicity.  Perhaps the celebrity may not realize but, their publicist would know and they would be the ones to set it up.  It’s their job to get the publicity, to keep them in the news and keep them relevant. I worked directly with a lot of celebrities, where there was a rumor about them that they didn’t want getting out, or maybe there was a story that just came out and wanted to kill it by doing something else.  They would call me and say ‘I’m doing this, come get us some shots.’  So that process was educational.”


“I used to use a bicycle to get around because it was the quickest way to get around the city.  You had to be incredibly fit. You had to get the pictures you knew would sell and you had to be a salesman.  A lot on the Epstein stuff I covered, I was all over that.  It was free-lanced.  I went to free-lance in 2005, you get 50% and I was one of the disrupters of the industry where I would get rid of the agency and go direct.  You would get 100% of the money rather than giving them 50%.  It teaches you to value your work, it was hard work.” 


“Most of my days are teaching.  I teach for Leica.  I go all over the world for them teaching.  I’m going to be off again in a week to London teaching. I just came back from Boston and then I was in Australia.  And then my day today is I teach privately, which you can do that every single day.   People come in from other countries and they kind of want someone to guide them around New York and teach them at the same time.  So, you get a real mix.  They can be pretty wealthy or influential because the price point on these is not cheap.”


A couple of memorable celebrities

“Brenda Lee was one of my favorites.  About 4 years ago, (during a photo shoot) she would clear the room out.  If she thinks that she can just work with you and you know what you’re doing, she’s like, ‘can the rest of you just leave the room’?  Her husband, he comes into the room and he’s got on a pair of dungarees and he’s bare-chested with a baseball cap on backwards and a pair of glasses.  He says, ‘I’m ready for my shot.’  So, I’m like, okay both of you sit down on the counter.  He kind of looked at me dead-panned, no smiles at all.  I get their picture and he walked away in a huff.  Brenda says to me ‘good on you, he hates having his picture taken and he was trying to call your bluff and you called it’.  She ended up using the picture for their Christmas card, so it went everywhere. 

Donny Osmond was one of my favorites, he’s just a cool guy.  It’s all the older ones that have gone through the ups and downs already and now they kind of appreciate it.  Hugh Jackman once told me you guys don’t know how important you are to us.  No one is ever going to tell you this but, you are very important to us, you could make or break us.  He was the only one to actually say it, you know.”


Phil remembers photographer Ricky Powell

I shoot a photo of Phil with an old Minolta Hi-Matic 35mm film camera.  “This is my Ricky Powell special here,” I joked.  Greenwich village photographer Ricky Powell was very popular in lower Manhattan and known to use this model camera.  “Poor ole Ricky.  He used to hit on my wife all the time.”  Phil laughs.  “He was funny.  I used to see him walking around all the time with the radio.  It’s sad he’s gone you know.  What a character, there’s not many left.”


 The Minolta Hi-Matic 35mm photograph of Phil sitting outside


Photo by Charles Hahn





“What software do you use?” I ask.  “Capture One I use.  They reached out to me about three years ago.  They asked if I could do an on-line thing for them.  I’m like, I don’t even use your software, well I better learn,” Phil quips.  “It’s a good software. They’re all good at this point.  I used to use Silver Effects.  I use black and white anyway and now I can get it all done in Capture One.  There are a lot of tools that they offer that the other ones don’t necessarily offer.  But it’s all professional like if you were tethering live shooting, that kind of thing.


Experience with film


“Have you shot much film?”  “That’s where I started, but it’s so much money now.  That was the fun part, the printing.  I was lucky I had a darkroom in our house.  My dad has a darkroom set up actually now.  With the price of film, it doesn’t make sense for me to use it.” 


Phil speaks of students


“You either got it or you don’t.  I always get asked, what makes a good photographer and I answer, the camera is really irrelevant.  Most of it comes down to experience.  There’s a lot of copying, that’s the crazy thing, when people start copying your style and it’s like, it’s supposed to come from there (Phil gestures to his head).  It’s supposed to come from what you’re feeling.




Admired photographers


“Is there anybody you kind of grew up with and admired?”  “One guy I admire is Sebastiao Salgado.  That guy’s insane.  I like Salgado, Elliott Erwitt and Arnold Newman.  They’re going to open a new store (gallery) around here and Erwitt will supposedly be the first show probably in October.  It was supposed to be open already but they’ve been taking their time with it.”


Talking about the road to ‘making it’


“How do you find your sponsors?”  “They find me.  Sometimes it’s like ‘well you have a big audience, there’s a lot of people liking your work.’  Now if the work’s good or someone likes your work, it’s gonna get out there.  I worked in the press for years so I know everyone and I know how to pitch a story although, I hated that side of the job, it taught me a lot.  Photography is probably 40% marketing as an individual.  Unless you’re lucky enough to have a good agent who’s not going to rob you.  I’m fortunate that people go to my website and they buy prints directly. 


There’s also a lot of politics in the game.  That is if you go with a gallery, that means the other big ones are not going to take you anymore.  So, you basically have to say no to everybody until the big one comes along.  I’ve said no about fifteen times already.  I have a rule, if they’re not a Paris Photo, that’s the big-one, then I’ll wait.  That’s like the big show for us.  I go every year just to go and see it, in mid-November.  Usually, the first or second week in November and about 5 days, three days to the public.  So, I’ll time it.  I’ll go over and teach workshops.  I’ll do like two workshops and then it basically pays for your flight and your hotel.  You don’t get rich.  I just happened to be at a Leica show.  Someone from the WhiteWall photo lab printing company recognized me and next thing you know three months later they were flying me to Norway for a campaign.  Most of the company’s I work with are all German, the publisher I’m with is German, Leica is German, WhiteWall – German.  It just ended up that way.”


A short walk


We look at the time and it’s getting late.  Phil says, “I can walk you to a cool place for photos if you would like?”  “Yes sure.” I reply.  We see a few really interesting photo opportunities.  During one of them, Phil is sitting in front of a service door with graffiti all around.  A little girl with mother in tow, photo-bombs me on her bicycle staring in a curious manner and I get that last photograph of Phil.

Photo by Charles Hahn


After walking a block or two further it’s time to part ways.  We say our pleasantries and goodbye’s. 


[email protected] (Charles Hahn) Sat, 29 Jul 2023 10:13:20 GMT
A Meeting with Harry Benson Harry Benson


Harry Benson is a photojournalist.  At 93 years old, Harry is still a photographer who documents humanity with his heart and with a conviction to stop time and preserve a slice of history to share with the world.


Harry and Gigi Benson sitting outside their apartment.

Photo by Charles Hahn


Harry, a trained Fleet Street photographer, considered himself to be a serious journalist.  On an early January day in 1964, Harry had the intentions of going to Africa on a political assignment.  The night before, however, he received a call telling him to go to Paris instead to cover an up-and-coming band the Beatles. 


A couple of days later, the Beatles broke through with their concert at the Olympia Theater in Paris on January 16, 1964, and Harry was there to photograph it.  “The story had gone from a music story to a major news story.  They were a phenomenon and I was going to New York with them.” Harry later related to me.





Sunday, February 9, 1964



It was the first week of February 1964, and I was 6 years old and a 1st grader at Maplemere Elementary School in Williamsville, New York, a suburb of Buffalo.  All week the kids at school were talking about a band called the Beatles and that they were going to appear on the Ed Sullivan Show. 



On Sunday evening of February 9, 1964, I was sitting at the end of my parents’ bed.  Two and a half feet away was the short dresser and on it was our 14-inch black and white television.  The Ed Sullivan Show was starting and I was adjusting the two antennae for the best reception possible.  And then, there they were: the Beatles.  The next hour changed my life, as it did for many other young people in America.  This was my introduction to long hair and rock ‘n roll.



The Beatles playing on the Ed Sullivan Show.

Photo by Harry Benson


Little did I know at that time, the man behind the scene photographing them, Harry Benson, would someday become the person I would idolize as much as the Beatles.



Monday June 26, 2023. 2pm.


The Uber driver pulls up to the apartment building on the upper east side of Manhattan.  Cheri, my assistant, and I pile out of the car after the roughly half hour drive uptown from Greenwich Village.  With a couple of photography bags and a tripod in tow, we enter the foyer area of the building where we are greeted by the doorman.


“May I help you?” the doorman asks. 

“Hello, I’m Charlie Hahn and this is Cheri.  We are here to see Harry and Gigi Benson.” The man reached for the phone and dialed a number, “Hello, Mr. Charlie is here. Okay.”   “Mrs. Benson said to go on up, just take the elevator right there.”  He points across the foyer.


After a short ride up the elevator, we knock on the apartment door and are greeted by middle-aged lady who asks us to come in.  “You can put your bags down and they should be with you shortly.”


            We placed our bags down off to the side and look up to see our surroundings.  We are in a living room and just steps away are windows which look outside to a terrace with a privacy fence.  Glancing around we see comfortable-looking chairs and a sofa with a coffee table where a few of Harry’s books rest.  The walls are covered with very large photographs which I recognize from photography books and magazines that I have seen many times throughout the years.  These prints include Harry’s iconic Beatles pillow fight and Mohammad Ali and the Beatles in a boxing ring.  Wow!


Mohammad Ali meets the Beatles.

Photo by Harry Benson


“Hello?” a lady’s voice calls out from a dimly lit hallway leading to the family room.  Gigi, an attractive middle-aged lady is walking towards us.  She is fairly thin with blonde shoulder length hair. 

“Hi there,” I, reply. 

“Hi, how are you?” Gigi says back.  “I’m trying to get my shoe on right.”

“Take your time.  I’m Charlie and this is Cheri.” 

“Okay, sit down.” 

“Where would you like us?” 

“Any ole chair.” Gigi says.  “You’ll do better in a chair then the couch cuz then the dogs will leave you alone better.  Okay well Harry sits there.” Gigi points to the couch, “and ya’ll sit anywhere else. I’m going to let the dogs out then.” 

“Oh, just let them out,” Cheri responds.


A tall slender man appears in the hallway walking towards us. 

“Harry, this is Charlie and Cheri.” 

“Well, hi there,” Cheri says. 

“Hi there, nice to meet you,” Harry replies. 


Two small puppies enter the room barking away trying to figure out who these visitors are.  One a light brown pug and the other a black dachshund. 


Smiling, Harry jokes, “These are my daughters.”

“We have four dogs, they’re like our children.” I say. 

“You have?”

“How was England, did you enjoy it?  You had a gallery show there in England and I hope it was successful.” 

“Yeah, I did, well I’m from Scotland.” Harry replied with his Scottish accent.  “Yeah,” Harry said. “Well, they told me it was nice and that’s good enough.”

“Is that a pug?” Cheri points to the little puppy. 

“She’s a rescue from Korea.” Gigi says.  “Our daughter rescued her.  The pug is Daisy and the dachshund is Tilly.  Tilly jumps up onto Harry’s lap on the couch.  Harrys face lights up. “This is my daughter.”


Harry with Tilly

Photo by Charles Hahn



“It makes your whole life them dogs.  I mean, I’ve always had a dachshund.  They’re all replacements,” Harry jokes. 

Almost Hijacked


Gigi talks about the problems of leaving your dogs when go away, and she recalls what happened to Harry on one of his trips, “Harry had to go down the chute.  His plane got hijacked one time.  They actually shot that guy.  A sharp shooter did.”


“Where were you traveling to?” I ask Harry. 

“Chicago or LA.”  

“The guy wanted to go to Italy to see his girlfriend,” Gigi says. 

“The guy was nuts, you know.  There were a lot of hijackings in the 70s.  We were at the runway and I saw a man come up to the captain’s cabin with a gun.  Then the pilot says, ‘There’s going to be a delay because a gentleman on board doesn’t want to go Chicago.’  And they went and killed the bastard.  He asked to go to Milan and they told him he couldn’t go to Milan.  If he actually thought it, it means he was really a head case,” Harry said of the potential hijacker.


 Ron Galella's book party


Gigi kindly passes out hot tea and chocolate chip cookies. 

“Thanks, so much, this is very nice.” I say.

“Do not let the dogs eat the cookies.”  We all chuckle.

Gigi asks, “Were you at Ron Galellas’ last birthday party?”

“No, we went to visit Ron in October of 2021.” I reply.  


“Were you at his book party?”  Gigi adds, “Harry and I were there.  We went with Staley-Wise people.  We’ve never been out there before, it’s way out.  At his house every single picture was up,” Gigi notes. 

“Did you photograph him?” Harry asks.

“Yeah, they’re such nice people.  Ron is a real delight to be around.  Kathy (Ron’s assistant) was great too,” I add.

“Did you happen to see Harry’s documentary?  Well, something Ron said in the documentary is that Harry got invited to all the events, and Ron had to crash them all.”

“Have you run into Ron out there in the world while working?” I ask. 

“I ran into him and we had a drink a couple of times, you know?” Harry adds, “Have you ever seen a celebrity being chased up the road by a photographer? You know it’s not a pretty site. It’s a horror show, a little bit demented.  He didn’t mind running in front of people.”

“What did you always say that Jackie Kennedy should have done?” Gigi says to Harry.  “You always said Jackie should have just sat still for a few minutes and let him have all the photos he wanted.” 

“She’s famous, what the heck,” Harry replies. “You had to be a bit touched to do that.  It’s crazy.  Magazines used it though and they paid for it, you know.”


Harry relaxing with Daisy

Photo by Charles Hahn


Film and Life Magazine


We started discussing the old days and the use of film while photographing the Beatles pillow fight.  “We shot film and went to digital in 2000.  Film just kind of disappeared the same as you right?  We really didn’t think about it,” Harry says.

Gigi notes, “By the time Harry started working for Life, they had this huge lab.  They did it all.  They did the developing and the contact sheets, and the color developing.” 

“I prefer black and white,” Harry adds.  “120mm with the Rolleiflex or a Hasselblad.  Pointing up to the Beatles pillow fight photo on the wall, “That’s a Rollei and that’s a Rollei.”  Harry points to the photo of Mohammad Ali with the Beatles.


The Beatles Pillow Fight

Photo by Harry Benson


A moment with the Beatles


“In the pillow fight I was there alone in the room with them.  The strobes were better back then they are now, they were more powerful and it was able to stop the action.  That would be at about F8 you know, about 125th.  The pillow fight went on for nearly 2 rolls of 12 exposures.  I wanted it on a Rolleiflex because it’s a quick shutter and it’s a real. . . .  I wanted it square (The format of a Rolleiflex is 6 x 6).  The Rolleiflex is a great camera.  It gave me a career, it gave me money, you know.  It’s just a better camera.”


The process of film and Life Magazine

“Harry, when you were on the road for an assignment, what was your process to get the photos back to Life Magazine?” I ask.

 “While on an assignment for Life Magazine, sometimes I sent the film in. Sometimes I had to develop and print it and wire it from my bedroom (hotel room).  I put the enlarger on the lavatory seat.  When you finish it and dry them off, you know the chemicals, I’m sure that some people could smell it.  Once that you were finished, you really didn’t care.  Sometimes I had to wire it to London.  I didn’t enjoy doing it because it was hard and you go to transmit, people can get on your phone and mess it up.  It’s hard work. It’s hellish.  I would take it to AP if I could get away with it.  If I didn’t want them to know.  It would really make a difference because there were so many places it was going out to.”



“Were you employed by Life Magazine?” 


“Did you lose any rights to your pictures at any time?” 

“No, no.  That’s one thing. It was yours and you could pick them up whenever you wanted.  Some people left their photographs with them (Life).  I didn’t want them to be left there so anybody could use them.  I used the Rolleiflex more than anything else.  I’m glad I did that with the Rolleiflex.”  Harry points to the Beatles pillow fight photograph on the wall. 


“Did you have a backup camera or an extra with you?”

 “It’s a very good point because you can take too much with you.  It’s a pain in the ass.  I would take the Rolleiflex, 2 Nikons and 5 lenses. Photography was good for me.  I don’t know what I would have done if I had to work for a living.  I felt fortunate. It’s what we could do and get away with.  I was probably about 16 when I picked up the camera for the first time.  I knew it was the only way I could go.”


  “When you were young did you ever imagine doing what you’ve done, or were you thinking of being a doctor or something else?”

“I knew I wasn’t going to be anything important.”

“No, no doctor,” Gigi quips.  Gigi goes on to say, “I tell you at one point I thought that what I should have done rather than go to graduate school was go to law school.  Photographers need a lawyer or somebody to explain to them what copyright infringement is and how to sign those contracts when they send them over.


A very hectic lifestyle


When sent on assignments by Life Magazine Harry had to leave home at the spur-of-the-moment.  “It was always important to get on it quick. You didn’t want any delays. And you wanted to beat the bastards.  The ones (people) I was going to photograph knew I was coming.  I didn’t have the newspapers or the magazines do my booking of the planes.  They would fly me second or third class or, 200 class.  Simple as that.  They were going to pay for it anyway, you know.  So, Gigi would book all of my flights.”

Gigi adds, “We would be having Christmas dinner and the phone would ring, Harry would finish his meal and get on a plane to go do a job.  There are more disasters around holidays than any other time.”

“Disasters always happen around holidays,” Harry says.  “And you don’t take your wife on an assignment.” 

“Harry would always tell me: bankers don’t take their wives to the office.  Before we got married, he would take me on assignments and after we got married, I wouldn’t go on another one.” 

Harry says, “I couldn’t leave her to be taken.” 


Gigi remembers, “There’s two racing (horse racetracks) tracks here, Aqueduct and Belmont.  Harry had an assignment to photograph Secretariat.  I took him to the one that was empty and there was one guy sweeping up.  And I asked him where Secretariat was and he said he was at the other one (track).  We drove there got there at the end of this thing.  He still got a picture.”

“I got him as he walked off. it was at the finish of the race.  He looked like a cocker spaniel.  Head way down.”


“One time Harry was really close (from another assignment) when Martin Luther King died, he was in a town close by for some other job and he just hopped on a quickly and got there.  He knocked on the door of the room and Jose Williams was in there and he was mopping up blood and squeezing into a jar.  Harry got there when nobody else got there.  He was like an hour away.  Within an hour he was in the room. It was like that fast.


Ethel Kennedy moments after Robert Kennedy was shot

 at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles, June 5, 1968

Photo by Harry Benson


Bobby Kennedy


On June 5, 1968 right after Bobby Kennedy had finished speaking at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles.  “Bobby said to me when walking away, ‘Harry, Harry, I’ll see you in Chicago.’ I turned to walk one way and then he got shot.  Ethel was screaming up at me.  You can’t fail, I had to do my job, you know.  I do what I can.  She’s screaming and nobody knows what to do, and Bobby died.  I’m friends of the Kennedys.”


A gallery show


“How many pictures do you typically have in a gallery show?” I ask. 

“You have to have at least 12 pictures that you absolutely like.  Ones that only you could have taken.  You know what I mean?  Twelve and that can get you by.  When someone criticizes you., you don’t want to talk to the bastard.  The piece of shit. Let’s go outside.  I like New York.  Nobody bothers you unless you want them too. I’ve had a Dachshund all my life.  Ever since I was 3 years old.  One thing about the Dachshunds is that they don’t smell.  I smell but not the dogs.” 

“I haven’t noticed yet,” I joked. 


 “We’ve had Tilly about 11 years and she doesn’t like us discussing her age.  I’ve always had a Dachshund.  The main thing about a terrace is she can come out here and have a piss whenever she wants. I don’t have to take her down on the street.  I just have to come out and pick up her shit.  Isn’t that right, Tilly?  I just take them out and they can do what they like. They can stay for 10 minutes, 20 minutes they can come in and I know, they can jump into my bed and not gonna pee on me. It’s very handy having a terrace. I can talk to myself and the dogs.”


“It’s nice to meet you.” Harry says to me. 

“It’s nice to meet you too.”


Time to leave and we have a two-puppy escort out of the Benson’s apartment door, and Daisy and Tilly run to the elevator.  “Hey you guys come back here,” Gigi says sternly. 

Here I am photographing Harry and Daisy.

Photo by Cheri Swanson



To find more out about Harry Benson check out his website at


[email protected] (Charles Hahn) Benson Harry Fri, 14 Jul 2023 13:12:13 GMT
Ron Galella, rock star of photographers A rock star of photographers


Ron Galella shot many photographs of famous celebrities.  But he, himself is a celebrity i.e. paparazzo superstar, and rock star of photographers.


Galella, now at 90, is still doing what he loves most, photography.  "I'm a workaholic, my 22nd book is coming out, '100 Iconic Photographs.'"  "Next year I'm doing the decade of the eighties."

This is an account of my time with Ron Galella at his suburban mansion in Montville, New Jersey.  A mansion so amazing it could double as a museum to Galellas' lifelong work as a paparazzi photographer whose collection contains more then a million photographs of famous celebrities he has taken.

Noon, Monday October 11, 2021

Our fifty-five minute drive comes to an end.  One which starts at the Gramercy district in Manhattan and finishes in the town of Montville, New Jersey.  Hau, our Uber driver pulls up to a white neo-classical  mansion which, looks something out of a Godfather movie.  It is no surprise that once an HBO scout showed up interested in renting the house as Tony Sopranos' home.  One thing that didn't agree with HBO's decision makers' was the pool in the backyard had been filled in and replaced with a rabbit cemetery.  The rabbits have been Ron and Betty (Ron's wife) Galellas' pet of choice for many years.

With a camera bag thrown over each shoulder, Cheri (my assistant) and I slowly walk along the sidewalk and turn up the driveway towards the front entrance.  We pass by a mailbox in the shape of a rabbit.  A white marble fountain lead our eyes to columns framing the front door.  Many small rabbit statues are scattered about the property.  At the base of the stairs, a concrete slab appears with a pair of handprints, a sweeping signature and the date, July 26, 2008.  The slab is in the style similar to something you would find in front od Grauman's Chineese Theater in Los Angeles.

My photograph of the slab outside the front door

We walk up the stairs and at 11:59am, I push the doorbell.  I suddenly realize my lifelong journey has taken me here, to New Jersey.  In front of the home of the man who has given me a lifetime of inspiration.


Mid-September, 2008

I'm standing in front of the magazine rack at the local Barnes and Noble bookstore in the small city of Winston Salem, NC., my hometown.  Leafing through a New York Magazine which caught my eye.  The September 22, 2008 issue.  On the cover, "Jackie and Me," "Paparazzo Ron Galella and the birth of modern celebrity," by Emily Nussbaum.

New York Magazine, September 22, 2008

The article had me hooked.  Talking about the antics of this celebrity photographer.  His prints have found their way to The MOMA and Staley-Wise Galleries in New York while his books are praised in The New York Times.  But, along the way there were some interesting hurdles and bumps in the road.  In 1973, Marlon Brando punched out five of Galellas' teeth in an incident which settled out of court.  Brando himself needed healthcare as his hand became infected from the punch.  During the disco years Steve Rubell twice threw Galella out of Studio 54.  Richard Burton once sent his goons to steal film out of Galellas' camera.  Bridget Bardot had her boyfriend hose him down.  Frank Sinatra once yelled, "You wop, you get permission."  And, Jaqueline Kennedy Onasis told her secret service to, 'smash his camera.'  This happening along with three law suits but, resulted in one of Galellas' most famous photographs, Windblown Jackie.

Ron's' Windblown Jackie


In his younger days, Ron took acting classes at the Pasadena Playhouse, not to become an actor but, to act like one.  "I went to overcome my shyness and fear with dealing with people, and it helped."  He prided himself on his cleverness of breaking into environments.  He wore wigs, glasses, hats and even faked credentials.

When Ron started he found out he could get $1000 for photos of Elizabeth Taylor or the Lemon Sisters, from magazines such as, Modern screen, Photoplay and The national Inquirer.  Galella claims, Those who would judge a paparazzi are the same ones to gobble up their images."

He met and married his wife Betty in 1978 when Ron was 48 and Betty 31.  Galella claims he never married before because he was dedicated to his work.  Betty unfortunately passed away January 9, 2017 after a long illness.  Reading the article on Galella I, specifically remember these events happening as they made the news during the 60's and 70's.  As a young inspiring photographer I was mesmerized.

Back to

Noon, Monday, October 11, 2021

Cheri and I are standing at the front door when it opens.  Two ladies greet us.  "Hi Charlie, I'm Kathy and this is Grace, won't you come in?"  Grace smiles and says hello. She is of Asian descent and I have the impression she is Ron's' health care assistant. Kathy is a slender attractive lady who has been Ron's' assistant for over 30 years.

As we enter the foyer, I can't help but notice the large black and white portraits on stands lining the room.  Another stand has Ron's self-made paparazzo jacket.  The 35mm Nikon camera he used and the famous football helmet he made as a joke to follow Marlon Brando around after the famous 'punch to the mouth.'  Kathy turns out to be a wonderful hostess as she guides us through the mansion.  "You wanna put your equipment down there on the love seat and I'll show you around."  As I put my camera bags on the large red "S" shaped love seat we couldn't help but notice the enormous living room.  Every wall is covered with large portraits of famous celebrities such as John Lennon, David Bowie, Mick Jagger, Frank Sinatra and Jaqueline Kennedy Onasis.  This impressive room is topped off with a very tall cathedral ceiling and many windows allowing tons of natural light to enter.

We enter the Andy Warhol room, and another room Kathy introduces as Ron's office.  Kathy explains, "This is Ron's office and was a dining room at one time.  All of the things here are fairly new.  Ron wanted to report his life in pictures."  The walls are covered with famous magazine covers with Ron's' photographs.  Another wall dedicated to his wife Betty, "Who passed away a few years ago."  There is a portrait of Ron holding his famous photograph of Windblown Jackie, by Tim Mantoani.  Other photographs include, Ron standing behind Jackie Kennedy Onasis holding a tape measure and one of Ron standing behind Marlon Brando with his football helmet on.

We start up a winding staircase, passing by statues of rabbits.  Kathy mentions, "Ron no longer has rabbits but, we do have a couple of cats, they are bothers."  As we get to the top of the stairs Kathy says, "Ron decided a few years ago in case he passed away he wanted to have a whole library of photographs that were signed by him."  When asked how many photos are signed up stairs, she answered, "Thousands of photographs are signed."

Back downstairs and into the basement which seconds as a large office area where the business is run.  We meet a young man sitting in front of a computer.  "This is Nick my co-worker," Kathy says.  Nick greats us warmly and we exchange pleasantries.  Downstairs there are thousands of stored unsigned photographs, slides and negatives all carefully labeled and filed away in boxes, envelopes and cabinets.  We walk through a small room where an old film enlarger sits on a counter top.  Kathy describes this as Ron's old darkroom which he doesn't really use anymore  due to the advancement of the digital world.

We walk up to the main floor, turn the corner to enter the living room and Ron is there waiting for us.  At 90 years old Ron Galella is looking very well.  A fine gentleman and a mind as sharp as a tack, showing a wonderful personality and sense of humor.  "I'm alright, for 90 I'm pretty good.  Galella continues,  "I'm a workaholic."  "My 22nd book is coming out, 100 Iconic Photographs.  "Next year I'm gonna do the decade of the 80's."  "I go through my files.  What I'm doing right now is going through my color slides  and picking more pictures that were overlooked."  "I'm giving them to my agency, Getty."  "I'm making money each month with them with old stuff. I'm giving them more good stuff that was overlooked."  So I'm keeping busy doing that."  "You gotta keep busy, you live longer.  Especially if you do something you love."

Ron looks at the wall in front of him.  "That's my wife, see?"  "She was a big asset.  When I married her she expanded my agency.  Hired other photographers,  Before it was just me, and she became a photographer too."  "In fact, there's one of John Junior."  Ron points to a photo shot by his wife Betty of, John Kennedy Junior.  "You see those are her pictures of John Junior.  She out did me."  Ron smiles and we chuckle at his comment.  "I was lucky to marry her, cuz she was a country girl."  "You see country girls get gobbled up." "Here in a big city, they get taken."  "Country girls they're like preserved.  Preserved for me."  Ron giggles and we laugh at his comment.

Ron hasn't always lived in Montville.  "We've lived here since 1992,  She (Kathy) found this house.  She saw an ad in the paper and that's how we found it."  "We lived in Yonkers.  It was a two family house and we moved.  We had too many pictures.  You would pull up and the car was left outside."  I asked Kathy if she was with Ron in Yonkers during those times.  "She's (Kathy) been with me for 30 years." Ron stated.  "I was at their wedding , My Daughter was their flower girl.  A lot of  good memories," Kathy answered.


Before the internet and modern amenities


Before digital photography and the existence of the internet there was a lot of running around and footwork in getting the product to their customers.  When asked how things were done in the past Kathy says, "I can tell you that, because I was there when it happened.  So, what would happen was, today is Monday.  I would come to work, I would get all the newspapers and I would look for events.  We also got what was called The Celebrity Bulletin.  So, I would gather all the same that day for events happening and I would print all out for Ron.  If there was something he needed to be invited to, I would call the people to try to get him invited.  But mostly, he would just go.  So we'd say, oh we read Mick Jagger is going to be performing at Madison Square Garden and staying at the Carlyle Hotel.  So we would write that down.  There were no cell phones then so, he would take that note with him and go through the process of knowing like, where to go first from that list.  If he could he (Ron) would go the whole day and night.  He would come back.  He would develop the film.  He would print his contact sheets and photographs.  Sometimes we had printers that would help.  Like he'd say, 'here print these.'  Otherwise he would print them himself.  He would print the film, they would have to go through the chemicals, da da da.  Then they would have to go through the dryer.   Then once everything was dry then they would have to be stamped on the back with his name.  They would have to be captioned, he would have to caption them.  You know if we were using word, or whatever it was.    Then we would tape the captions on the back.  Then, so you would have a pile of maybe ten of Jagger, ten of Cher and ten of who ever it was.  So, he had clients he would send to everyday, Time, Newsweek, The New York Post, The daily News, umm, and there were European publications." 

"There were usually about ten envelopes that had everybody's name on it.  Then he would sort them out like this (Kathy makes a motion with both hands as if she were dealing cards out).   Get 'em all in the envelopes and then we had a girl, Kelly, and sometimes there were other people.  She would come to the office.  She would take all the envelopes.  I would drive her to the subway and she would hand deliver them.  That was when I was there."

"Before I was there and he (Ron) was fairly new, he used to take them himself.  There were fan magazines like Modern Screen, something like that.  He would print the contact sheets from the negatives.  He would then bring it, cuz he was new.  He would bring it to the fan magazines and say, 'pick the pictures you want.'  There were several he would go to, and once they picked it he would go back and he would print those.  Then he would deliver them back.  And, the whole cycle would start over again.  You know the next day you would read all the newspapers.  And then some people would call us and say something was happening.   You know, you should be at this event.  But, yeah those days were a lot of fun because I used to go into Manhattan with him and shoot with him because I was a Mick Jagger fan.  If he was gonna be down there and he's (Jagger) still going."

Were there any celebrities who wanted to be known by getting Ron's attention?  "Not so much contact Ron but, they knew after a while Ron became really well known they knew that if Ron shot them that their picture was going to be in the paper the next day.  So yeah, they might spend a little extra time.  There were a lot of celebrities who would call out like, Dustin Hoffman loved Ron and he would see Ron and pose and he would always do funny things for Ron.  There were quite a few celebrities who knew.  Suzanne Summers loved Ron.  As a matter of fact I think her house burned down and they called to get pictures cuz a lot of her stuff was destroyed and want to get photos for memory sake."

My sitting with Ron

"I see you brought some equipment, would you like to take some pictures?"  Kathy asked.  As it was, I brought with us my digital Nikon, and a couple of film cameras as, I love to shoot medium format film.  A Mamiya RB67 and my Rolleiflex twin lens reflex camera.  Not knowing how much time I would have, I wanted to make sure I had enough film with me.  Ron was very generous with his time and told us many stories of his experiences as he posed for my camera.

Cheri shot this photo of me photographing Ron

"Ron, was there anyone particularly difficult to photograph?"  "Yes, once I was with my Nephew and we were shooting photos of Madonna (August 29, 1986) and at the time her husband Sean Penn," Ron said.  Kathy added, "They ate in a restaurant, then you guys followed them (to where Madonna was living at the time on W. 64th Street) into Madonna's courtyard."  "Once they got into the courtyard with a couple of photographers stepping into it, Sean Penn said, 'you stepped on private property and you can't do that,'" Ron said.  "And he attacked my Nephew.  I got a couple of pictures of them  In the pictures you can't see his face but, you can see the attack."  "That's unbelievable," Cheri said.  "That's definitely someone who could use anger management."  "He (Penn) was really the only one that was a pain in the ass," Ron said.  "Oh and Marlon Brando", added Kathy.

Ron's photo of Penn punching his Nephew, Anthony Savignano


As I was shooting photos, I stepped closer to Ron.  "I never got too close."  Ron says light heartedly.  "To me when you get to close you get distortion.  Unless you want to exaggerate like, Jimmy Durante has a big nose, you can come close to make it bigger."  We laughed.

My photographs of Ron on a filmstrip


Cheri looks up and points, "Wow and here is Bruce Springsteen and there is Elvis."  Kathy says, "The John Travolta one was taken right in Yonkers, NY., right on the cusp, before he was famous.  He was known for Welcome Back Cotter.  Then he was in Bus Stop in a touring group with Brian Denehy and Anita Gillette in Yonkers at a small theater.  Within a year he shot up to stardom in Saturday Night Fever."

"What about the Princess Diana picture?" Cheri asked.  "How was she to photograph?"  "Well, I only got her a few times, she was hardly here."  "She was easy", Kathy says.  "She was used to it right?"  "Yeah, yeah." Ron said.


Kathy shot this photo of Ron and I


"Were there harder places than others to get into to shoot," I asked Ron.  "Oh yeah." Ron said.  "I used to sneak through the kitchen."  "Like the AFI (American Film Institute), an annual event with big stars.  I'd get in through the kitchen and get pictures, where Betty Davis was honored.  The biggest event was James Cagney, (March 13, 1974, Second Annual American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Awards Honoring james Cagney at the Century Plaza Hotel), the biggest stars were there."  "A jealous photographer, Scott Downie reported me to security.  He said, Galella sneaked in here.  The security said, no he's alright because, George Stevens Jr. (founder of The American Film Institute) allowed me to sneak in.  Because I got published.  I published the pictures.  So he always allowed me to sneak in." Ron said.

"James Cagney was my biggest event.  That's where I got my great picture of John Lennon and David Bowie."  "This one right here." Ron points to a photo on the wall in the living room.  "It's in my new book 100 Iconic Photographs."  "This one here," Ron points to a photo of John Lennon and Mick Jagger, "That's the cover of my new book."  "That's my second best seller.  My best seller is Windblown Jackie (taken October 7, 1971 on Madison Avenue) which is up there."  Ron points up to the photograph.  "The John Lennon and Mick Jagger picture, That's May Pang (Lennon's girlfriend at the time), the back of her head.  That was available light at the James Cagney honors."

Ron's photo of John Lennon and Mick Jagger


"May Pang came here because someone is doing a documentary about her called, The Lost Weekend," Kathy states.  "That's what, at some point John Lennon referred to it.  I think they spent maybe about a year together."  "They came to interview Ron because of that picture.  I guess there were very few photos of John with May.  John and Mick really didn't know Ron was photographing them."  Ron says to Kathy, "When do we see the documentary?"  "I know well, it's not out yet."  Kathy says.  "I don't know where it is but, I'm gonna contact him once again I talked to him a couple of months ago, Richard Kaufman, and he said the documentary was done and they were shopping it around.  So we're waiting to see it on Netflix or somewhere.  But, so far, nothing."  "She (May) was very sweet and posed with Ron."

"Yoko told John like, I'm giving you a hall pass and, he took advantage of it.  He met up with May and, according to May it was a loving relationship.  Because it lasted for some time that Yoko said, (Kathy laughs) the hall pass has expired."


I walked over to my tripod and adjusted the Mamiya RB that was waiting for me.  Kathy said, "Another great camera, you have great cameras."  "I just love to play around a little bit, love shooting black and white," I said.  "Yep, that's our favorite." Kathy said.

One of many I have shot of Ron


Cheri asks Ron, "What was your favorite event?"  "Well the James Cagney event was probably the best and it drew the most stars.  But, also the Met Gala.  Every year that was good and I did a book on that."  Ron answered.  "It's somewhere around here." Ron looks around the love seat where his books are spread out like a display.  "Cheri says, " I would love seeing photos of The Met Gala.  I mean that was just so over the top."  "Well, we'll give you one of these books.  You'll have every year," Kathy said.  "Sadly this is the first year in fifty years that Ron did not shoot it."  "In years past I was allowed to stand behind Ron to make sure he was okay.  This year they said no one else could stand with him and, this was like five hours more and with a mask."  Ron says, "Yeah I didn't feel like doing it.  I was afraid of getting the virus."

Ron and Kathy


I walked up to the balcony and shot photos looking down into the living room.  At this time Ron, with his digital SLR was shooting photos of me shooting photographs of him.  "Kathy, would you like to get in one?"  "Uh," Kathy makes a face.  "I'm not like you." she says to Ron.  I'm not a ham like you." Ron laughs.  I came downstairs from the balcony starting to pack up my equipment.  Kathy holds up Ron's Nikon 35mm camera and says, "Oops, it looks like this fell off."  She holds the film rewind knob.  "Can you fix this Charlie?"  "Sure let me take a look."  It screws back on to top of the camera.  "There it just unscrewed itself."  "Okay, thanks so much."

My shot of Ron from the balcony


I pack up my equipment while we chit chat before our ride back to the hotel.  Hau, our Uber driver agreed to wait for us.  I bend down to shake Ron's hand, "Thank you so much Ron, you're a good man Ron."  Ron smiles and says, "Please send us the shots you got today."  "I surely will," I respond.  Cheri offers her hand to Ron.  Ron smiles and says, "Goodbye my Cheri ami amour", and giggles as we leave.





[email protected] (Charles Hahn) Sat, 25 Dec 2021 19:25:03 GMT
ASRT Magazine August/September 2021 I am very humbled by an article written about me and my project of helping the homeless community in and around my hometown of Winston Salem, NC.  This if from the medical diagnostic magazine, The ASRT Magazine August/September 2021.  Please check it out.

[email protected] (Charles Hahn) Thu, 19 Aug 2021 19:21:15 GMT
"Complexities and Nuances of the Human Spirit" at Artworks Gallery I am very excited to share my photographs at the Artworks Gallery at 6th and Trade Streets in Winston Salem.  The photographs are a project called, "Complexities and Nuances of the Human Spirit."  It encompasses street photographs from the humorous point of view to the serious.  Opening weekend will be during the Gallery Hop on Friday May 7th from 7-9pm.  If you're unable to make the opening the photographs will be showing through May.

I hope to see you there!


[email protected] (Charles Hahn) and Complexities Human Spirit Nuances of the Sat, 24 Apr 2021 11:17:16 GMT
At the very begining As a child of about 10 years old I scanned through a box of photographs my father took.  When I came across this photo I was mesmerized.  Our dog Blackie.  I could see her personality come through.  It was this very photograph that when I saw it I knew I wanted to shoot photos.



[email protected] (Charles Hahn) Sun, 06 Oct 2019 15:24:01 GMT
A successful opening at The Aperture Theater I am very humbled that so many people attended the opening of my "Beyond the Edge of the Fields" exhibit at Aperture Theater in Winston Salem.  The exhibit opened on Thursday September 20th and will remain showing until November 4th, 2018.  Here are some photos from the opening on the 20th.


[email protected] (Charles Hahn) Aperture Arts Beyond Edge Fields of Opening Sawtooth School The Theater Visual Sat, 06 Oct 2018 12:22:34 GMT
Thankful Donations from Carolina Neurosurgery and Spine in GSO I recently excepted a very large donation of clothes, food and necessities from Carolina Neurosurgery and Spine Associates in Greensboro.  A special thank you to Administrator Robin Young and the Staff at CNSA GSO.  Also Thank you, Cindy Hudson, Kim Poteat, Maggie Bain and Orren Falk.

These items have all been distributed to The homeless individuals I have come to learn about that last couple of years.


Thank you!!


[email protected] (Charles Hahn) Sun, 19 Aug 2018 16:03:29 GMT
Beyond the Edge of the Fields will exhibit September 20th through November 4th, 2018
A few years ago I started a project of photographing people who are normally ignored and considered off the grid: the homeless of Winston Salem.  This project entitled Beyond the Edge of the Fields was inspired by studying the works of legendary street photographers.

In cooperation with Reynolda House Museum of Art, The Aperture Theater of Winston Salem and The Sawtooth School of Visual Arts, Beyond the Edge of the Fields will be exhibiting September 20th through November 4th 2018 at The Aperture Theater.  The opening on Thursday September 20th from 5-6:30pm

Beyond the Edge of the Fields is a visual representation of a relationship that grew from casual photography of strangers to trusting relationships developed over time through twice weekly deliveries of food, clothing and other necessities.  This trust enabled me to get to know how they got to this point in their lives, what their dreams were when they were young, who they are now and what demons have followed them through out their life journeys.

These moving images represent the people beyond the street corners, revealing intimate details of those who live in between the lines of our society.

Please come out to the opening to meet with me, ask about the project, and enjoy the photographs, food and camaraderie.  I'll have a book available and the framed photographs are for sale with 100% of the sales going to these homeless individuals.


[email protected] (Charles Hahn) Fri, 03 Aug 2018 23:00:02 GMT
Street Portrait Workshop August 8th and 14th, 2018 I am honored to be asked by The Sawtooth School of Visual Arts to offer a workshop entitled Street Portraits.

Street Portraits is a two-part workshop representing a unique opportunity to dive into the world of street portraiture.  After a brief overview of the styles of famous street photographers, we will work on nurturing your own style of photographing people in public places. Also, we will discuss different techniques of photographing on the street as well as the rewards of getting out of your comfort zone. 

The workshop will be on consecutive Tuesdays August 8th and 14th, 2018 from 6:30-8:30pm.  Please visit The Sawtooth School for Visual Arts at the following link;

This class comes on the heals of my ongoing project, Beyond the Edge of the Fields, which can be viewed at

[email protected] (Charles Hahn) portrait street workshop Sun, 03 Jun 2018 01:20:09 GMT
No end in sight for "Beyond the Edge of the Fields". Over a year ago I started a project of photographing people who are normally ignored and considered off the grid, the homeless. This project entitled Beyond the Edge of the Fields was inspired by studying the works of famous and legendary street photographers from days past.  Although, this project has no real end in sight, I hope to display these very moving photographs in a public forum in 2018.

During the process of repeated visits to these homeless individuals, I began to learn many things about them. Including, how they got to this point in their life, what their dreams were when they were young. What demons have followed them throughout their lives and what their goals and inspirations are for their future.

My visits began to increase to once or twice a week. Taking them food, clothing and necessities in which for them to have some sort of decent existence. The real problem can hardly be remedied by one individual. However, one individual can help in making it possible for a person to have hope to make it through another day, another week and a month to ultimately get the proper help they need to change their lives.

My circle of homeless friends grew in number, making it very difficult for me to properly divide up my time and expenses to continue on my journey. Therefore, I reached out to my personal circle of friends and coworkers for help. With an overwhelming response I have learned what huge hearts my friends and people in the Winston Salem community have.

[email protected] (Charles Hahn) Sat, 27 Jan 2018 22:02:23 GMT
The 2017 National Photography Competition and Exhibition at The Soho Photo Gallery, July 6th I recently returned from NYC where, I attended the opening of The 2017 National Photography Competition and Exhibit at The Soho Photo Gallery in the Tribeca section of Manhattan.  My photograph "Finding Refuge in a Van", was recognized for inclusion by the juror, Aline Smithson.  The Photograph was chosen from over 2000 images and 219 photographers.

The event was overwhelming with an estimated 200-300 hundred people attending the opening last Thursday evening July 6th.

I would like to extend a special thank you to Gary and Alice for allowing me to photograph them and share their story.


[email protected] (Charles Hahn) soho photo gallery Sat, 08 Jul 2017 21:46:54 GMT
2017 SoHo Photo Gallery National Competition and Exhibition

My Photograph "Finding Refuge in a Van" will be hanging in the 2017 SoHo Photo Gallery National Competition and Exhibition in the TriBeCa district of Manhattan, NYC.  It will run from July 5th through July 22nd 2017.  The opening will be Thursday July 6th.

[email protected] (Charles Hahn) soho photo gallery Thu, 25 May 2017 22:42:30 GMT
Chippewa Street, 1975 A Photographic Essay Chippewa Street 1975 A Photographic Essay



As Chippewa continues to reinvent itself, it’s important to remember its history, the good, the bad and ugly. That’s what one photographer has done by compiling a slide show of images on Youtube that date back from 1975. It’s hard to believe that this is the same district that we have today, but if you look past the signs, awnings, etc. you can identify a number of buildings that remain. Despite the seedy nature of the street (back then), the photos show a ton of character (and characters) from that era. The House of Quinn is featured, as is Fisherman’s Wharf, along with a slew of businesses that I never even knew existed, and a few legendary haunts. Check out the details of the images here. From the photographer Charles Hahn:

“My first photographic essay came in 1975 for a high school project. I photographed a visual representation of the Chippewa Street area in Buffalo, NY. This seedy part of the city was an area of undesirables, homeless, and street people. The school, due to the overall nature of the area, and the fact that I was only eighteen years old, first turned down my project proposal. But with some coaxing they finally approved. At the end of the presentation two photos are not of Chippewa Street but, of downtown Main Street viewed from the Marine Midland Building in 1974 and, a view of the Statler from the top of City Hall. The final two photographs were taken by my friend Alex Enos. Hope you enjoy. You can also view this essay at”


[email protected] (Charles Hahn) (1975 (buffalo (chippewa a essay) ny.) photographic street) Sun, 28 Feb 2016 00:14:58 GMT