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How These Women Learned They Were In An Iconic Garry Winogrand Photo

Two of the women in Garry Winogrand's most famous photos come forward. Here's how they reacted when they learned they were in an iconic '60s photograph.

What would happen if these women called me up and said "hey, we're in one of your photos"? Photo © 1976 by Mason Resnick
 

My second thought was: What would Garry say? My suspicion is that it wouldn't interest him (although apparently, his first wife insisted on meeting Ann and Karen, two of the women in the photo). He refused to caption his photographs beyond year and location. The only thing that's important, he would say, is what's going on within the four edges of the frame. Nothing else matters. He enjoyed interacting with people in the moment, but when it came time to editing his photos, he was more concerned with the tension between form and content than the story behind the image.m That, to him, was a distraction.

The more appropriate quote appears towards the top of the article: “How do you make a photograph that’s more interesting than what happened? That’s really the problem.” Indeed, while the story and recounting of the events leading up to that moment in 1964 at the World's Fair in Flushing Meadow, New York, the aftermath and how the women in the image found out about it are interesting, they're still not as fascinating as the image itself.

The article, above, appeared in the New Yorker.

Winogrand's first wife referred to the image as the "Ladies on the Bench". The rest of the world knows this image as "World's Fair, 1964" and it has become one of the most iconic images in Winogrand's extensive catalog. Writer Emma Allen tracked down two of them during the touring exhibit of Winogrand's photos in 2014 and wrote this fascinating interview with them.

All very well and good, but as a street photographer and former student of Garry Winogrand, I had several simultaneous, conflicting thoughts about this information. First thought? Cool beans! I've never met any of the strangers I've photographed and have always been a bit curious about how they'd feel about their faces and whatever they're doing becoming part of someone else's creativity.

In reading the article, I was struck by their lack of offense at being photographed. They seemed totally OK with it, for reasons that I suspect were social and had nothing to do with being photographed (they were all college friends). They also seem to enjoy the attention they got from those who attended the exhibit.

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