City Paper is not for tourists
This letter concerns a few corrections to your article about me (Artifacts, “Photographic Memories,” 2/20).
First, I want to say that I do appreciate that you wrote about me. However, I was dismayed that at the top of your front page in large type, you described me as “the grandmother of photojournalism.” The “grandmother of…” phrase was used again in the body of the article.
I think it was a very sexist remark. It indicates that instead of being acknowledged for her work accomplishments, a woman must be put into a maternal category. When I spoke with one of your editors on the phone, I told him that he wouldn’t refer to a male photographer, such as Ansel Adams or Arthur Tress, as “the grandfather of…”; he said he would. I disagree with him, because I’ve read extensively about photography, and I’ve never found “grandfather” used to describe a male photographer.
The editor said that he had gotten the term “grandmother” from my dealers at the Fraser Gallery. They are Catriona Fraser and Lenny Campello, and it may be so, but I do have a wonderful relationship with them. They are very conscientious and knowledgeable. When I told them of my distaste for the term “grandmother,” they said that what they had said was that if they had a grandmother they would want her to be like me—which is different from referring to me as “the grandmother of photojournalism.”
My second complaint is that I don’t like being pigeonholed into photojournalism. I went way past that, and, as mentioned in the body of your piece, I also did portraits, theater publicity, travel stories, photoillustration, architecture, still lifes, special effects, and more. I even wrote a book about special-effects techniques. When I became a photographer, I was determined to use photography as a magic key into as many aspects of life as I possibly could—and that I would not limit myself to one category.
Well, here I am at the end of my criticisms—but I must say that generally I did like the piece.