This Would Be a Wonderful Thing

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This doesn’t have to do with politics. But see it as a personal point of privilege. Because it feels like a certain brush with greatness. Legendary New York Times fashion and party photographer Bill Cunningham died over the weekend. He was 87. He is, as they say, irreplaceable. And yet the Times will replace him. And a friend pointed out to me that some are suggesting Victor Jeffreys II as that replacement. (The link is from the Post’s ‘Page Six’) Jeffreys works for Gawker (now this isn’t part of that Gawker saga). But for the last few years I’ve been lucky enough to get him to moonlight taking portraits of guests at the two or three parties we throw each year for friends and colleagues at TPM’s New York office.

A few years ago I got invited to one of Gawker’s parties (they’re quite the scene). And there was a photographer there taking quick set-piece portraits. So I had my picture taken as did my wife and a friend of ours. Eventually they got posted on Facebook. When I saw my own it captured my forty-somethingness and various physical imperfections. But it also seemed to capture me at some very intense level even though he’d only snapped maybe three or four shots over 45 seconds, tops. Same with the picture of my wife and then of pretty much all the other photos I saw as I looked through the gallery. That was Victor.

Then I ran into him on the street down in Soho several months later. I told him how much I loved his work; I think mentioned that my father spent many years of his life as a photographer and could he maybe come to a party once and shoot pictures for us? We agreed that this would be a great idea and then walk our ways until I emailed him maybe six months later to come take photos at a party of ours. (If you go to this section of the TPM Facebook page you can see numerous portraits of staff and friends of TPM he’s taken for us over the last two or three years.)

These are portraits. Because that’s what I’m interested in. But what Victor mainly does are events, parties, the life of this city, the oddities and outre spectacles of freedom that are such a quintessential part of New York. You can certainly google him and find countless examples of his work. (Here’s his site.)

I’m no photo critic. But I did grow up in a photography household. So I know a bit about it. And I think Victor is one of the most gifted photographs of people and this city and its unique life I’ve ever met or known. I really hope the Times is listening to those suggestions that crossed Page Six’s transom.

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