And under his orange knit cap, in his pink v-neck cashmere sweater over turquoise slacks, taking off gold-rimmed shades, I could see that he certainly was.
He invited me into the rented pastel stucco house in Palm Springs, saying he had to put the English bulldog under his arm into the dog’s own temperature-controlled room. “Bulldogs have sinus problems,” Truman said. “The air conditioning in here is not good for him.” “Bulldog Truman…” he said. “I was given the nickname Bulldog at about age seven.”
Then we spent half the day arranging the patio furniture and flower pots because he wanted me to take his picture like the photograph of him for his first book which made the The New York Times bestseller list and stayed there for nine weeks.
“The famous photograph: Harold Halma’s picture on the dust jacket of Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948) caused as much comment and controversy as the prose inside. “
–Gerald Clarke, Capote: A Biography
Truman said he had directed the Harold Halma photograph — which showed a reclining, big-eyed Capote gazing fiercely into the camera — and he wanted to recreate that pose.
In 1952, Henri Cartier-Bresson published his book Images à la Sauvette (The Decisive Moment). In the preface, Cartier-Bresson wrote: “There is nothing in this world that does not have a decisive moment,” adding: “Photography is simultaneously and instantaneously the recognition of a fact and the rigorous organization of visually perceived forms that express and signify that fact.”
Cartier-Bresson had also taken a famous photograph of Truman, which, to me, captured the fact of Capote much more so than the Harold Halma photograph Truman staged.
That is the decisive moment I wanted to record. This is that picture:
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Bresson said that the essence of his art was “the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event, as well as the precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression.” Too often, the “significance” feels platitudinous, even as its expression dazzles. Robert Frank, whose book “The Americans” (1958) treated subjects akin to many in the older photographer’s work, put it harshly but justly: “He traveled all over the goddamned world, and you never felt that he was moved by something that was happening other than the beauty of it, or just the composition.” –from Kenneth R. Anderson
You are still my hero, M – and one of the best designers and creative people in the world – keep up the great work – your site is very rich and very cool. dc
That’s a great shot. He seems vulnerable, sad and almost having a religious moment to me. Maybe the hand on his chest. He looks to be coming to terms with his immortality. I get all that in an instant. Nelson Q.