Friday, August 10, 2007
The Way We Were
August 10, 2007
It's not just an ordinary picture, you must admit. It's a photo made when I was in my late 20's, by Roy Schatt, the show business photographer whose biggest claim to fame was that he had palled around with James Dean when they were youngsters struggling in New York and gotten some great shots of the kid.
I was a young hopeful when someone recommended Schatt to me as one of the best to get some good headshots. Abysmally unphotogenic, I was pleased with a number of the pictures he got. This one was the best of the lot and probably the most astonishingly flattering picture ever made of me. I thought, when I get old I'm gonna want this one. Not that it looked that much like me, but that I could at least tell people it did.
Then it went missing. I submitted it to be used in a brochure and the printer lost it in the early 1970's. Years later I tried in vain to find it. I was living in Geneva and felt a yearning for a look at that picture that showed me the way I wasn't and had never been except for that instant that the shutter snapped. I got a friend in New York to call Schatt and ask him if he still had it on file. He said he didn't keep pictures that long.
I had kept the contact sheet, waiting, I suppose, for personal computers to be invented. Yesterday I looked through the box of old pictures of myself to cull the best to keep and I remembered this one. I remembered the whole story, but was sure I still had the contact sheet.
Long story short -- here it is, folks. That was your author. Something happened over time; the eyes got smaller, the lips got thinner, the face got considerably fuller, the nose got a little bigger; that girl got swallowed up by the passage of time, lost to her own self-obsession. I try not to dwell on what I used to look like, so let's just say that's it. Once and for all.