FROM ROBERT FRANK “I don’t speak much. I try not to be seen.” “What made me a photographer was curiosity and the influence of my father, who used a stereo camera. If you don’t have curiosity, I don’t know why you would be a photographer. Curiosity is part of your profession. It is your curiosity that makes you grasp the moment in life. Photography is a good way to remember. And for me, the next step was film.
My mother’s father came from Poland to Switzerland when he was young. He started a bicycle factory in Basel. It was a big change. He probably came because of the Pogroms. There is anti-Semitism in Europe, no matter where you are.
It is like a temperature that rises and sometimes it is lower, but it is always there. With Hitler next door to us, there was a fear that the craziness would hit you. Anti-Semitism was just part of your life.” Robert agreed to my interview but did not wish to be photographed. Imagining that my time would be limited, I came to his studio prepared with questions for which I had not already read the answers. And yes, of course I brought a camera.
When I broached the subject of making a photograph of him, he immediately became cranky. I reasoned with him, 'You would do the same in my position. I must have a photograph; I need a visual record. It’s my job, my responsibility.
He acquiesced, but only to allow me to photograph the room or his desk. This is not what I had hoped for, but I began to act: look through the camera and see what happens. He seemed to forget about me for a moment and walked into the area where I had started to look. I pushed the button. He realized what he had done and what I had done.
He was not happy. One frame. “That’s it, you got it. No more.” He really didn’t want his picture taken.
I stopped. I put the camera aside and we resumed talking. His wife, June came into the room and the three of us sat on a couch, me in the middle, and we simply enjoyed each other’s company for at least another hour.
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