Rain on Diane


Why doesn’t it just turn to snow? It must be 38 degrees and drizzling today. My least favorite kind of weather. Today we need to get out. How and where? How about Hecht’s!

Good weather for bean soup. Good weather for chai.

Today would be a good day to go to a matinee on Connecticut Avenue.

Diane Arbus probably liked rainy days. She was that kind of person. You might see Diane at a county fair, but you had better hope that she did not want to take your picture. I can hear it now, “your momma’s so…., Diane Arbus took her picture.”

We have one of her books. I notice that Diane Arbus didn’t start taking photography classes until her late 30s, and didn’t have any assignments until she was 42. She only lived into her early 50s. When MOMA put on a retrospective of her work, it was sold out in various traveling exhibitions for seven years.

She is well explained by her criticism — “her photos are not about pushing the button,” to paraphrase Hilton Kramer, “but about the human process that took place prior to the shutter’s release.” The human process is one way of putting it.

But I wonder what actually transpired. Her subjects don’t look radiant. They don’t laugh. They look like they’re asking to have something repeated one more time. “What did you say, Diane?” The people in her pictures look uniformly taken aback — as if Diane had said something that made them stop, shudder, stare, or gasp. Her pictures have little to do with where they are taken. Some of her best portraits are in hotel rooms.

Clif Edom would not be pleased. I imagine some big crossed arms on Clif. That’s how Diane would photograph Clif. Looking unsatisfied.

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One Response to “Rain on Diane”

  1. BuckeyeBandit Says:

    Diane Arbus was one of my biggest influences as a young photographer. But I don’t ever remember seeing any photos taken in the rain by her. Cloudy, yes, but rain, no. And I think you underestimate Cliff Edom. He was old school, but I think he would have understood the depth and importance of Arbus. (Who by the way was raised in a wealthy family and started out as a fashion photographer for her father’s department store).

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