Allow me to introduce a photographer whose work needs to be better known.
Suzanne Levine. For decades she has gone nowhere without a camera in her hand.
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.
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.
Street photography isn’t Suzanne Levine’s chosen discipline – though she is great with the human form.
More her bent is landscape, and particularly, I think, articulating a vision of the Hudson River.
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.
Her usual interpretations of the Palisades are fluid and soulful, soft yet strong.
Suzanne is sensitive to the venerable Palisades-depicting tradition in Hastings, beginning with Jasper Cropsey, who painted this canvas in 1887.
“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.”
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.
One recent body of work Suzanne called postcards.
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.
She must have done a hundred of these.
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.