Suzanne Takes You Down to Her Place by the River

Allow me to introduce a photographer whose work needs to be better known.

Susie's sky

Suzanne Levine. For decades she has gone nowhere without a camera in her hand.

Suzanne

She happens to be family to me, my sister-in-law, and lives with her husband and son in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York, where I grew up and lived for years.

People in-the-know know that she is one of the most talented photographers around.

cactus at night

Thank goodness, the explosion of social media means for one thing that fantastic photographers don’t have to labor in obscurity. Much less likely, the possibility of overlooking a Vivien Maier, the recently discovered shutterbug who worked for years in the 1950s as a nanny while walking the streets with her Rollieflex, photographing everyone from  well-dressed shoppers to street bums, producing gorgeous images that no body ever saw.

Vivien Maier

Street photography isn’t Suzanne Levine’s chosen discipline – though she is great with the human form.

5-7-13

More her bent is landscape, and particularly, I think, articulating a vision of the Hudson River.

red Palisades

Her living room window overlooks the tracks headed south along the shore and the Palisades beyond, so it’s got to be a lot on her mind.

rains

Her usual interpretations of the Palisades are fluid and soulful, soft yet strong.

blue Palisades

Rothko-esque.

Suzanne is sensitive to the venerable Palisades-depicting tradition in Hastings, beginning with Jasper Cropsey, who painted this canvas in 1887.

CropseyPalisades

“It’s hard to do it in a meaningful way,” she says. “Particularly with photography, a landscape may be technically skillful, but empty.  The detail and the majesty can be overbearing; too much of a hard sell.  When I see an image like that I think, that’s not how you make a picture of the Palisades.”

green Palisades

You can see a series of Suzanne’s Palisades images here.

She is also an intuitive mom-photographer, with a knack for “getting” what’s going on with her son. Jasper’s now six, a  gabby, literate, lego obsessed energy bundle, and she captures the bright light of his personality.

now we are six

One recent body of work Suzanne called postcards.

Suzanne's postcard 1

Works that threw two images together, shook em up, poured em out as the perfect visual cocktail. She started to make them as portraits of Facebook friends, both those she knew personally and those she had met on line. “Are you a psychic?” asked a friend she hadn’t seen since high school.

Suzanne's postcard 2

She must have done a hundred of these.

Suzanne's postcard 3

Each one more interesting than the next.

Suzanne's postcard 4

Suzanne has recently begun using an Olympus OM-D E-M5, a Micro Four Thirds interchangable lens camera, a step-up from the compact digital cameras she’d been using the past few years.  Once in a while she still employs a one-megapixel camera, when she wants to go lo-fi.  She still keeps a 35mm Nikon F and a Rolleiflex TLR, as well as a collection of vintage cameras. Her favorite: a Newman & Guardia view camera, which was the camera of choice for polar explorers because of its innovative spring-powered pneumatic shutter.

You can see more of these photos. You can share work with Suzanne or to talk about getting a print made. Leave a comment for me here and I’ll make sure she gets your information.

Just don’t distract her too much from the sweet, moody, serene, soulful river that runs through her world.

15 Comments

Filed under Art, Home, Jean Zimmerman, Nature, Photography

15 responses to “Suzanne Takes You Down to Her Place by the River

  1. shauni goodwin – i do that all the time with calonire the corolla! when we live in north lake tahoe, let me tell you, it was like that DAILY. 4 feet of snow driving up and down the mountain in chain control, which i firmly believed calonire did not need. (and she never did.) when i made it home up the mountain i would pat her dashboard and say good girl, you sexy beast!

  2. Her pictures are beautiful, aren’t they? I don’t think I’ve ever seen the rainbow postcard.

  3. Jasper

    Hi. I like Suzanne’s pictures also. I really like the rainbow postcard she made for Becky.

  4. Debbie McFadden

    Nice Mother’s Day Present Jean!

  5. Funny coincidence — I never thought of that!

  6. Thank you! I’d been wanting to frame Suzanne’s work for some time and now I found a way to do it!

  7. Andy

    I just want to say in case anybody wonders that Jasper was not named for Jasper Cropsey! Otherwise, this was very nice of you, Jean.

  8. She’s a fantastic artist in all she does. And the loveliest of souls. Thank you, Jean, for your beautiful tribute and packaging it all in an easy to share package.

  9. You’re so welcome. I know what a fan of Suzanne’s you are. Her pics deserve everybody’s attention.

  10. She definitely has a touch of the poet.

  11. Nonnie Balcer

    I adore Suzanne and her photographs. Thank you, Jean Zimmerman, for this lovely appreciation. Thank you, too, for the lovely paperback copy of “The Orphanmaster,” which was waiting for me in my mailbox on my return from New Mexico!

  12. ANN HOFFER

    Rothko-esque for sure. Beautiful children … and a sense of humor. I will look at the links which you posted.

  13. love her work inside and out. having the fortune to work with her as well as the pleasure of her company. she has a way with the camera as every designer should. of course her subjects are all sublime.
    pve

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