About the Photography in River River
David e Bell curated the photography for this inaugural issue of River River. All of the images, except for Francesco Fiondella’s photograph accompanying his poem, “jumper,” were taken by him. Following are his anecdotes on the photographs and the artistic process of pairing them with the literary works in the journal. —AA
Fire in the Snow
This picture was shot, along with several others, early one snowy morning before I went to work on laying out this magazine. I tossed it in as a place holder. It’s still there. I shot this image out of my apartment window, looking south-east towards the Hudson River and the Tappan Zee Bridge. The “fire” is a streetlight.
I believe I shot this image in the late 60’s, on Extachrome-X, a wonderful slide film that has gone the way of the dodo and other such creatures. This is a more northern river, the Connecticut. This image was shot up in New Hampshire, not far from where I was born, on a photo trip with friends.
Insanity at Columbus Circle
I was on the way to an opening at the Art Student’s League in NYC. It was raining, and I had my trusty little Lumix along. The perspective lines, and the arrows caught my eye, so I knelt and took this shot. It wasn’t until I was processing it for this issue that the figures started to appear—not the pedestrians at the top of the image, but more subtle things in the street paint. There is a woman with a bun, exiting stage left. And the splash of oil, center stage, is one woman, two women, or a skull, depending on your frame of mind. This is a piece of a much larger panorama.
This is the same tree as the cover photo. Different season, different time of day. I rotated the photo to give the feeling of the branches being overhead. The south-facing window of my apartment seldom disappoints, and that was before they started to build the new bridge.
Out of the Rain
This photo was taken moments before the one titled Insanity at Columbus Circle. Photographically it was a very interesting and productive evening. I felt like I had been transported into the world of “A Breakfast at Tiffany’s,” where the city is as much a character as the actors. In this series, I was trying to catch the New York of our dreams.
Hand on Knee
This was not the first choice pairing for “American God.” And I am glad that our publisher pushed me to choose again. She got me to look deeper into the words, and into myself.
Francesco is a wonderful photographer who travels the world and shares it with his powerful imagery. Take a moment and look at his work here. This diversion is time well spent. Every time I go back I have second, third, and fourth thoughts about my choice of this picture … there are so many that would work well.
Satisfying pictures seem to come in clusters, sometimes grouped by time, sometimes by space. This was both. I took it seconds before I took the cover photo, only this was looking northeast instead of southeast. Looking further to the north, you would see what was the Skylark Cafe, a diner made famous by Edward Hopper, who lived just up the street from here. It’s a very interesting river town that I live in.
Long ago, and far away, though I think this was shot Kodachrome rather than Extachrome, judging from the tonality and the color reproduction. It was one of those island evenings. It was high summer, and the “golden light” lasted forever and a day. I hope this image says it all.