|| It was hard to take a bad photograph of Allen.
Nobody did. Maybe it was because Allen was a photographer from way back.
He loved to take pictures. Unrestrained, he could snap, snap and take
of film. His images of Kerouac, Cassidy, and Bourroughs are the ones we
have in our memory of those days. For the last decade or so he always had a camera
with him. He went from a Rollei to lighter and lighter and smaller and
smaller cameras. And he used whatever was his camera du jour all the time,
even at my house in the last month of his life (though no darkroom
for him, ever).
| Allen always had a sense of what makes a picture work.
As a subject he instinctively helped photographers get what they wanted.
He could concentrate and relax at the same time.
he could be THERE in front of the lens.
Loss of consciousness. No self-consciousness.
No reticense. Vanity reined in by a sense of, yes, STYLE.
He could pull together tiny details--a Buddha, a flower, a book, a
a microphone, the right tie (and in the old days, the right political
on his overalls and the right beads) that would anchor the photograph in
its hour. The gesture Allen came up with was always very specific and it
was always the right one. I felt Allen did my job for me.
Maybe Allen absorbed the essentials of photography from hanging around
photographers and artists. He was proud of being a friend of Berenice
Robert Frank and Richard Avedon. He was proud that I picked up the camera,
especially the Polaroid 20x24. Maybe Allen was such a good subject because
he spent a lot of time looking. Maybe it was because being the subject
of a photograph is partly performance and Allen was a great performer.
Maybe it was because Allen was so absolutely essentially courteous that
he couldn't have a psychic struggle with a photographer. he was that
and patient, even with jerks. Maybe it was because being the subject of
a photograph is the giving part of the equation and Allen liked to be the
giver. Maybe it was because being the subject of a photograph is intimate
communication. Maybe it was because Allen was JUST SO SMART.
More photos of Allen and Dylan
Allen Ginsberg and Andrea Dworkin, godparents of Isaac Dorfman Silverglate,
at Isaac's Bar Mitzvah, April 21, 1990. Photograph by my sister Jane Steele, Matthew
Ten of my portraits of Allen Ginsberg were part
of an auction of Allen Ginsberg material at Sotheby's on October 7,
- Allen and Louis Ginsberg
in Paterson, ca.1969
- Allen Ginsberg on a Late Evening, ca. 1968
- At Eliot House, Harvard, ca.1968
- Cherry Valley: portrait of Allen Ginsberg and Ed
Urich, July 1970
- Allen, November 6, 1986 (taken on the Polaroid 40x80)
- The Music Lesson, Lowell, MA. November
2, 1975 (Bob Dylan and Allen Ginsberg)
- Allen, February 7, 1980
- Allen, Probably March
- Allen Ginsberg and Peter
Orlovsky (nude portrait)
- Allen Ginsberg
and Peter Orlovsky playing guitar and singing.
- Read what I wrote about seeing Allen's
possessions on the block.
- Read Matthew Power's essay, "Holy Soul" in the first issue of Heeb Magazine. It's wonderful.
See Allen Ginsberg in
Elsa's Housebook (short essays and portraits); see a movie of Allen Ginsberg in
At Home: Elsa Dorfman, a movie by Ilene H. Lang; see
When We Honored Allen in Cambridge,
which includes many more photographs; send postcards of Allen Ginsberg