I have been thinking a lot about what draws me to photograph certain people. Sometimes it’s the way they have fixed their hair or an amazing accessory, or a wonderful smile that catches my eye. More than style, I am trying to capture a sense of vitality and creative spirit in the people I photograph. The other day I was walking uptown when I noticed a woman wearing a large brown coat, black beanie, and a hint of a yellow printed dress. Even from across the street I could tell that the dress had to be vintage and thought that the woman must have been wearing it for years. I decided to approach her and ask if I could take her photograph.
Frances was standing with her son, near Lexington Avenue, when I stopped to talk to her. I told her that I appreciated what she was wearing and asked her how she felt about style. She replied, ” I don’t care about style, I make style. I want to try and look the best I can, depending on the weather and my mood.” I asked if she wouldn’t mind telling me her age and she smiled and pointed to her son and said, ” Guess how old I am if he is 75 years old.” She continued by telling me how her doorman is so interested in always talking about her age and that she has grown tired of talking about it. Her new trick is to ask him his age every time she sees him. She then asked me how old I was and when I told her, “31” she laughed and said, “I’ll be 103 next month if I make it. My clothes are probably older than you.” Frances and I talked and joked for a few minutes and she thanked me for taking her picture and asked me to send a copy to her apartment. Later that day I thought about how witty and full of life Frances was and realized why I was initially drawn to approach her.