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Studio 360 interviewed a blind photographer the other day. He had not always been blind, and blindness has not stopped him from creating high-quality photographs, strange as that may seem. He gets by with a little help from his friends.

But then, which among us doesn’t?

“In 1994, a stroke left the young photographer John Dugdale nearly blind, and over the years since, he has lost the remainder of his vision. But has never stopped taking photographs.

“ ‘I have a few wonderful people in my life that I trust to help me create the pictures that I see in my mind’ Dugdale tells guest host [Studio 360] Alan Cumming. He insists on releasing the shutter on every photo he takes. ‘It’s the most sacred time in my life whenever that shutter opens and closes — and it’s also the only time I’m quiet.’ …

“Dugdale contracted HIV in the mid-1980s. In the early 1990s he became ill with cytomegalovirus retinitis, an eye infection common in HIV patients, and it accelerated quickly. ‘I didn’t tell anyone, because I thought through magical thinking maybe it would go away,’ Dugdale explains. ‘In a matter of weeks I lost one eye.’ A stroke left him paralyzed for a year and left him with about 20% of his vision. … ‘I’m alive because my mother brought me elbow macaroni with Parmesan cheese and beans every single day for a year.’

“When Dugdale was released from the hospital, he almost immediately began working again. He tells Alan that the photographs ‘poured like a libation out of a vase. I barely even felt like I was making them. They just made themselves.’ …

“ ‘Being blind is not what you think,’ Dugdale tells Alan, ‘it’s not all darkness. My optic nerve still works and shoots a beautiful ball of brightly colored orange and purple and violet light and sparkling flashes all the time.” More at Studio 360, here. Check out some of Dugdale’s work, which continues to be in demand by prominent collections.

Photo: John Dugdale
“Untitled, Self-Portrait with Teacups” 1994

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As I mentioned a few posts back, we went to the Metropolitan Museum when we were in New York. We saw a show from the dawn of photography, pictures of a lost Paris by Charles Marville. I greatly admired the angles, the light and shadow, the crispness of the images. Someday I want to try imitating his use of doorways and windows.

Karen Rosenberg writes about Marville in the NY Times, “In the massive construction site that was late-19th-century Paris, the photographer Charles Marville was just a few steps ahead of the wrecking ball. As an official city photographer working under Napoleon III and his controversial urban planner, Baron Haussmann, Marville recorded some 425 views of narrow, picturesque streets that were to be replaced by Haussmann’s grand boulevards.” More here.

The Met’s site adds, “By the end of the 1850s, Marville had established a reputation as an accomplished and versatile photographer. … Marville photographed the city’s oldest quarters, and especially the narrow, winding streets slated for demolition. Even as he recorded the disappearance of Old Paris, Marville turned his camera on the new city that had begun to emerge.

“Many of his photographs celebrate its glamour and comforts, while other views of the city’s desolate outskirts attest to the unsettling social and physical changes wrought by rapid modernization.” More at the website, here.

Catch the show by May 4.

Photo: Charles Marville
Rue de Constantine in 1866, one of a hundred photos of a lost Paris are now on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York
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Washington-Sq-is-where-I-came-inWashington Square, New York City

Random photos from my travels.

My husband going into the Public Theater to see classmate Ted Shen’s musical, A Second Chance. The Playbill for the show. A delightful chandelier at the Public, with paddles that illuminate changing phrases.

Subway buskers playing a grandson’s favorite song, “When the Saints Go Marchin’ In.” Grand Central Station. The charming Iroquois Hotel. A flower-themed mosaic in the Lexington Ave. subway.

Gertrude Stein looking like herself in Bryant Park. And the Metropolitan Museum, where we saw a great photography show with my sister and brother-in-law. More on that later.

(Be watching for the relaunch of the Luna & Stella website, where one of the family pictures is of my sister at age 3, pictured with Suzanne’s maternal grandfather. … Did I mention this is a blog for Suzanne’s birthstone-jewelry company Luna & Stella?)

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