WHY WE HAD TO BE IN NEW YORK
For our photo studio there was no other choice, at least not in America. Even though the city was rapidly sinking into bankruptcy at the time (mid-1970s), we had to hang on until conditions improved. There was a reason why the top publishing and broadcasting businesses were headquartered in New York and not in, say, Los Angeles.
Talent was that reason. Concentrated talent. Lots of it, in all related fields, and all within minutes of each other. Where else could we find such a selection of top models, artists, designers, stylists, and other skills practically next door? If you operated outside the city — or even outside of midtown Manhattan — you would have to pay traveling time, if you could get them to come at all. And then there was the vast number of available locations, to say nothing of professional photographic services such as overnight Kodachrome film processing or the easy rental of highly specialized equipment. Another plus was the number of qualified freelance assistants on call, ready to help when you needed them. And if your studio was not quite large enough for a particular job, there were several rental studios that were more than adequate.
The photo above was taken from the entrance to our studio on Fifth Avenue.
I learned about this early on, in the late 1960s, when we had a huge catalog job to do in Los Angeles, one that would take over a week of shooting. There was no way we could afford to bring New York models along with us, so we counted on the leading local model agency, and held "casting sessions" at the Beverly Hills Hotel. Now, the models there were certainly pretty and may have been very good at acting, but they were more "girl next door" than "high fashion." The resulting pictures, shot on location anywhere from Palm Springs to Topanga Canyon, were perfectly okay for the purpose, but nothing we would want in our portfolio.
Actually, at the peak of the mid-1970's fiscal crisis we momentarily entertained the thought of moving to nearby New Jersey, probably Jersey City or Hoboken. That idea quickly vanished, but I did briefly investigate the possibility of Long Island City, a part of Queens that is just across the East River from midtown Manhattan. It was only one stop from Grand Central on the number 7 subway, was relatively quiet and free of crime, and had plenty of old industrial buildings available for cheap rent. But then we realized that no one really wanted to travel beyond the area bordered by the East River, East 60th Street, Sixth Avenue, and East 14th Street. Unless, of course, it was to an exotic location for a few days.
Yes, there were plenty of reasons why our studio HAD to be in New York City's Manhattan. PLUS…there was also the sheer joy of living in such an exciting place, always filled with an almost electric energy.
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