In the summer of 1991, while interning at the Hartford Courant newspaper in Hartford, Connecticut, I would try to journey south to New York City whenever time permitted.
The train would take me to Penn Station, where I would grab a quick lunch; and then I would head to 133 Mercer Street, where A Photographers Place used to be. Most of the time, I knew exactly what I was looking for, within the budget I had that week.
Other times, I would rely on the friendly and knowledgeable staff at the shop to suggest and Revealing Light by Lilo Raymond was one of those I picked up that way.
I don’t know much about Raymond other than the fact that she was born in Germany; fled the Nazi regime at 16; and eventually ending up in New York City where she found kindred spirits and started creating works.
So maybe it wasn’t that odd that we ‘met’ in Manhattan.
For the strangest reason/s, I had until recently remembered and assumed that I got ‘acquainted’ with Raymond before I went to the USA in 1989. Perhaps I was too caught up with the ‘coincidence’ that a lot of my early works were about objects found at home, like Raymond’s.
In the end, it was the date I found in the corner of the book that told me I had been wrong.
No no, I didn’t think Raymond copied me. But I sure felt less lonely and I must have used her works to assure myself that “I’m not weird.”.
But, I still don’t remember THE reason that I bought this book. There are probably a few.
Maybe my mentors at the Courant had encouraged me to look at things outside photojournalism? Perhaps I couldn’t afford anything else that week but didn’t want to ride the train back to Hartford empty-handed? Or the owner at the shop had told me that he knew a lonely soul like me?
I think this is a good reminder to myself that my humble attempt trying to populate the BOOK LIVES section in my website is a meaningful undertaking.
It is not that I always need a reason to justify my love for photography books.
The personal indulgence that I have for more than three decades, I’m afraid, isn’t just physical. It’s more than just being able to hold them. It is often also about what you want but haven’t been lucky enough to get your hands on one. Or those you gave away?
If you know what a simple inscription or a bookmark can do to bring back memories, you will understand why I’m still so obsessed.