Over 20 years ago I had the idea that I could just move to New York City and become a fashion photographer. I had been working really hard assisting Detroit car photographers and learning my craft, but I didn't really want to shoot cars. So off to NYC I went and soon found myself shooting fashion products using my old Kodak 4x5 land camera and my table lamp for a light source. I was really pushing the envelope with no lighting equipment and cheap product. As least I thought I was—until I met Lucille Buckalter.
While prop shopping for a shoot, I ended up at 127 West 26th Street at one of the best secondhand stores in the city. “Lucille’s Antique Emporium” was a score! But the true treasure there for me was Lucille herself. I remember the first day I set foot in there. I greeted this fairly intense, yet humbly kind woman. She could read people, and fast. As we greeted, she was blurting out directions to her helpers, who were scurrying around the shop. I asked her for help finding some nice accessories to shoot. She immediately knew what to grab. I began sourcing many of my props from her shop over the next few months.
On one of my last visits there, I remember going in feeling frustrated that I had not landed my big assignment yet, and I was working so hard to create an amazing portfolio. Lucille knew what was up. She looked right into my eyes/heart and said, “Don’t worry, kid. One day you will have 6 people or more working under you.“ She knew the struggle and the sacrifices I was making (she was a friend of Robert Mapplethorpe, who also used to shop there). It helped so much to be understood. My perseverance became boundless after that, and still is to this day.
Let’s fast-forward about 20 years. I just finished my biggest assignment to date with a really awesome client. Yes, fashion products. Artful and joyous images, and guess what—there were 6 people working with me. Wow! What a wonderful realization. We were all there doing what we loved and really enjoyed our time together. I didn't get here by myself. Thanks to my friends and family for all their support. And a big Thank You to you, Lucille! I know you’ve since moved on to your next journey in life. I am forever grateful.
I'd love to hear from you-- your feedback, and your success story, too.
In all conscience,