452 Dean Street, RIP George Floyd

What a historic sight it was to see the Black Lives Matter demonstrators, wearing masks and carrying signs, marching up Flatbush Avenue by 452 Dean Street in Brooklyn, on June 6,  2020, in this photo that Anna shot and sent me.

In 1860 at the age of 18, our ancestor Pierre Gentieu immigrated from Orthez, France to Brooklyn, staying with his aunt and uncle above their Darrigrand French bakery, at 452 Dean Street.

452 Dean Street, 2004

It took a while to realize that 452 Dean Street was right there on the corner of Flatbush, and, as we lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn and had a photo studio in Soho, we had been passing it every day on the way to work.

452 Dean Street, 2016

After the Civil War broke out, and Pierre had moved to Louisiana, Pierre signed up with the Union, with the 13th Connecticut. Pierre was vehemently opposed to slavery.

France had abolished slavery in 1792, long before Pierre was born. When he was growing up in France, his father read him installments of Uncle Tom’s Cabin.

“The story was published as a serial in the daily papers; and I remember how intent we were in the evening to hear our father read each installment, and all the remarks we were making about it—how it was possible that the country boasting of being ‘the land of the free and the home of the brave’ could legalize such an institution, when in France, which was not then a republic, would not tolerate such a thing; for to us children, all the people before God were equal, and the color of the skin had nothing to do with it; but it was only the degree of instruction and civilization that made the difference in people.” from Pierre Gentieu's 1915 letter to his nephew explaining why he fought for the North in the Civil War
452 Dean Street, 2014 – for a while the storefront went back to being a bakery – a Jamaican bakery. This photo is collaged with an envelope addressed to Ulysee Darrigrand postmarked from Orthez, France, April 14, 1872.
452 Dean Street, 2008
452 Dean Street, 2020

Here we are in 2020, at this historic moment, protesting police brutality and the killing of George Floyd by the Minneapolis police. This is a meaningful photo for our family history. It’s an even more meaningful photo for our country’s history. This may be the first time there has ever been a demonstration near the corner of Flatbush and Dean St. This same protest is happening concurrently and in solidarity with hundreds of thousands of like-minded protesters in streets all over the country.

I know that Pierre would be so disheartened about what has gone on that has led to this, 155 years after the end of the Civil War.  The hatred, the violence, the prejudice directed at black people in our nation is unacceptable. Pierre and our collective ancestors fought in the Civil War and sacrificed everything, so that all men women and children would be free. 

Morel v. Agence France-Presse & Getty Images

Our social media photos – free to take? fair use? Who is fooling who?
"Then there are bloggers who have a disdain for paying for anything, and think that anything they use is fair use. They don't understand that just because a photo is of the news or illustrates something newsworthy, that doesn't mean it's fair use. Otherwise Time would never pay for pictures." PACA (Picture Archive Council of America) attorney Nancy Wolff commenting on “fair use” in PDN August 2007.

Thirteen years later, guess who is representing Newsweek and claiming fair use for displaying without permission a copyrighted photo on their website? That is, if the Instagram sublicense defense doesn’t work? Already in this case, which just this week made it past the dismissal phase, the judge ruled that it is not fair use nor is it transformative. The judge ruled that with no valid sublicense from Instagram, it is a willful copyright infringement. For these reasons, and since there is no evidence of a sublicense from Instagram, the case moves forward.

[update: June 5:] Instagram told Ars Technica in an email on June 4: “Instagram does not provide users of its embedding API a copyright license to display embedded images on other websites.”

The photos we put on social media are not free!

Daniel Morel v. Agence France-Presse & Getty Images, 2013, is a landmark case for photographers.

The jury awarded Daniel Morel the highest possible statutory damages available for each photograph infringed by Agence France-Presse & Getty Images, who stole Morel’s 2010 Haiti earthquake photos that he put on Twitter, removing his name and sold 996 downloads of his photos for publication. Morel was awarded $150,000 for each one of the eight photos they infringed on his Twitter account – 1.2 million dollars! Plus he was awarded $400,000 for DMCA violations – the removal of his copyright management information from the eight photos (his name) and (doubling it) for the dissemination of false copyright management information.

Anna’s notes. Anna went down to the New York Southern District Courthouse to witness firsthand the drama of the copyright infringement trial of the decade, Daniel Morel v. Agence France-Presse & Getty Images.

“I am proud that my five years of effort on this case have helped to eliminate some of that ‘havoc’ and to give my fellow photojournalists an important tool to protect their rights and fight against those who would try to trample on those rights…. May the next generation fight on and persevere.” Daniel Morel to PDNonline, June 3, 2015.

Tommy and the band years

I’ve been making this book about Tom and the bands he has been in. It’s good to take a trip down musical memory lane when you are stuck in the house.

Some of the ticket stubs that mysteriously made it through the years.
Tom’s band Flirt, from Detroit, was often booked with bands such as Sonic Rendezvous Band, Destroy All Monsters and DEVO.
Flirt often played in New York at Max’s Kansas City, Danceteria and Hurrah’s. Booked with Johnny Thunders this night at Max’s.
Flirt playing at Max’s Kansas City.
After we moved to New York, Tom played with Glad Corp. They were very arty. Here they are playing at CBGB’s.
Glad Corp had an interesting following!
Then Tom played with No Thanks, a pseudo hard core punk band.
And then Measure of Disorder – arty, loud and noisy.

Copacabana 1981

My first job in New York was photographing at the Copacabana, 1981. The film was quickly processed in the back and sloppy prints were made, full of fix, slapped wet in a folder, and then I’d have to try to sell them. I’d be off work at 2am, taking the subway and walking through Washington Square Park alone to get home!

Anna Friemoth in Venice, Italy

ANNA FRIEMOTH in the exhibition PERSONAL STRUCTURES at the PALAZZO MORA in the context of the 57TH VENICE BIENNALE


Anna in Venice beside the future ahead of her, 1994 and 2017
MAY 13 – NOVEMBER 26, 2017
Open daily 10-6, closed Tuesday
European Cultural Centre
Strada Nova, 3659, 30121 Venezia, Italy

Anna Friemoth presents new photographs in the exhibition Personal Structures, held in the context of the 57th Venice Biennale. Anna’s series of self-portraits, titled Insight, is about the experience of piercing through the thoughts and actions of the human condition and finding an inner light. Insight was created especially for Personal Structures. The show is organized by the GAA Foundation and is on view at the Palazzo Mora in Venice, Italy until November 26, 2017.

European Cultural Centre PERSONAL STRUCTURES – open borders Exhibition page


Proud parents.

Remember magazines?

Newsstand magazines. On paper.

I did a lot of work for print magazines over the past 30 years. I recently compiled five volumes of my favorite tearsheets. There are about 1,200 pages total in the five volumes, and I put them in chronological order. It makes a pretty good snapshot of my career.

It was the golden age of magazines. I was lucky to have done this work when I did, because many magazines that I worked with are now defunct or published online only — famous magazines such as Child, Parenting, Baby Talk, Newsweek, U.S. News and World Report, USA Weekend, American Health, Mademoiselle, McCall’s, Healthy Kids, Epoca (Italy), Life, Ladies Home Journal, Metropolitan Home and Smart Money. Gone!

I also worked with these magazines that are still on the newsstand: New York, Self, Glamour, Esquire, Fortune, Psychology Today, American Baby, Cosmopolitan, and more.

The books are a snapshot of an era, about child-rearing, the big issues of the day, and how graphics and art direction styles changed over the 30 year period. In 1985, when I started photographing babies, times were changing. My photos of babies were completely different from what had been the norm. They were unsentimental and free of adornment, focused on the personality of the baby itself rather than on adult projections… this shift in approach was all it took to make my photos popular with art directors, and I’m proud to have put a fresh face on the millennial generation.

Here are a few highlights:

Babies in pinstripe suits, and that typeface! Definitely 1988! These were McGraw Hill ads that appeared in the New York Times.

My all-time favorite cloth diaper photo in Metropolitan Home, 1989, and a Whittle publication, Special Report, of a toddler making a peace sign. (a shoot that took three redo castings, each call for a little older baby… now we know that they don’t make peace signs until they are 2 1/2)

Remember photo labs? (Definitely more rare now than magazines.) Duggal was a big one in New York, and I assume it probably still is big, and maybe it’s the only one, but don’t quote me. They gave me the “Image Maker Award” and ran my photo in their ad on the back cover of Photo District News.

I shot covers for Baby Talk and American Baby for a few years. I felt very lucky to be chosen for their cover photographer since they were competing magazines by different publishers.

This spread, American Baby on the left, and New York Magazine on the right, just happened to fall that way chronologically, but it works! Nathan Lane was intensely crazy to photograph — I don’t know why he put his fingers in his ears — the babies went home!

It was easier to get babies to play musical instruments than to get them to make a peace sign…This was for Similac, we rented a baby grand piano, violin, drums, trumpet, saxophone, xylophone, and we had a conductor. My mom made the outfits.

Linocolor gave me their high-end scanner to use, and they never wanted it back! It was the only time I ever asked a company for such a favor. On the opposite page, magazines would sometimes write about me. There I am with Anna, telling the story about the peace sign shoot.

This photo of Tom and Anna was used a lot, upside down, sideways, whatever way they wanted.

Newsweek Japan often picked up U.S. Newsweek stories and I loved collecting those tearsheets.

Another Newsweek Japan spread. They were beautifully designed. They had special editions where they would use 10-20 pages of my photos. Beautiful magazines!
I had to throw in this Amazon webpage from 2000, it’s so strange to see in a book! This is when the board book edition of Baby! Talk! first came out. Ranked 2,100 and 5 stars! Just this February, Random House reissued it.
This Time cover came out at just the right time, during a family reunion (explaining a lot of things…) You and Me Baby is my tenth book.
This was a fun project with the Biography Channel — besides Jimi Hendrix and Donald Trump (that little bugger!), there is Salvador Dali, Imelda Marcos and Josephine Baker.
This is part of one of those slick leave-behinds that pharmaceutical reps leave with the doctors after a lunch or weekend in the Bahamas. As all photographers knew, that was where the money was at!
I didn’t just do babies.

Alvah and Anna Buckingham of Putnam, Muskingham County, Ohio

Many Springfield Twp. Farms Became Part of the City
Zanesville Sunday Times Signal, Sept. 28, 1958
Dinner at my grandparents, Sherwood and Helen Pinkerton’s house on Richmond Road in Toledo, Ohio, 1954. Baby is me. Woman on left is Aunt Elise Pinkerton Stewart. (see blog post, The Tea-Dyed Brown Dress.)  Paintings of Anna and Alvah Buckingham on the wall.
I never thought of my ancestors as being activists by looking at these two in the paintings that I grew up with in my grandparents dining room. But now I see them in an entirely different way! They came from fierce New England Puritan stock who believed that the laws of God trumped the law of the land that allowed slavery. Putnam was a small village across the river from Zanesville Ohio, and my New England ancestors were among the original settlers. Zanesville, on the other hand, was settled by folks from Kentucky and West Virginia. And there were fights.

Putnam Presbyterian Church was active with abolitionist activities. Photo ©1999 Penny Gentieu
Part of the Underground Railroad, this house has several hideaways. The owner, Major Horace Nye (veteran of the War of 1812) was threatened so many times by his foes that he slept with a pitchfork next to him for protection. Photo ©1999 Penny Gentieu 

My ancestors’ names are Alvah and Anna Buckingham. Alvah helped build the Putnam Presbyterian Church in 1835, which was actively involved in the abolitionist movement. William Beecher, brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe, was the first minister of the church. Frederick Douglass spoke there in 1852. For many years, the church held a monthly prayer service for the abolition of slavery. The first Ohio Anti-Slavery Convention took place in Putnam, as well as the first publication of the abolitionist newspaper, The Philanthropist. What a great community!

Alvah and Anna Buckingham house, 405 Moxahala Avenue, built 1821. Photo ©1999 Penny Gentieu

In 1799, when Alvah Buckingham was 8, his family moved to southeast Ohio, on horseback. In 1819 Alvah met Anna Hale of Glastonbury, Connecticut on a trip back east and married her. They built a house on Moxahala Avenue in 1821. (Three generations have subsequently lived in the house.) He was in the mercantile business with his brother and brother-in-law and later, opened a lumber trade. In 1852, he built the first grain elevator in Chicago, and owned the first grain elevator in Toledo.

In 1865 when Alvah was 74, he and Anna moved to New York City to be closer to their two daughters who also lived in New York City. They owned a home at 13 East 12th St.

In 1866, Alvah took a trip out west with his youngest son, James in a spring wagon over rough roads, “without any apparent fatigue.” (James is my GG Grandfather and grandfather of Elise Pinkerton, born 1904, see blog post, The Tea-Dyed Brown Dress.)

Anna Buckingham died of pneumonia on September 23, 1867, and her remains were brought back to Ohio. Alvah Buckingham died 11 days later, on October 4, 1867.

In 1639, Alvah Buckingham’s Puritan ancestors settled the farthest most reaches of America – Milford, Connecticut. Alvah was descended from immigrant ancestor, Thomas Buckingham, born in Minsden, Herts, England. Alvah’s father, Ebenezer Buckingham, fought in the Revolutionary War.

My grandfather, Sherwood Pinkerton Jr. later to be president of the family business, The Pinkerton Tobacco Company in Toledo, Ohio, is sitting in lower right corner. His mother, Julia Buckingham Pinkerton is standing behind him, next to her father, James Buckingham.  James’ wife, Jane Wills Buckingham is in the center. The room they are in is the front right side of the 405 Moxahala Avenue house, shown above. Photo circa 1905.
Sherwood Pinkerton with the paintings of his great grandparents, in his Central Avenue apartment in Toledo, November 1979, six weeks before he passed away.
Paintings of Anna and Alvah Buckingham, inherited by my mother, were donated to the Zanesville Art Institute in 1980. The museum gave them to the Pioneer and Historical Society of Muskingham County. The paintings now hang in the Increase Mathews house in Putnam, owned by the historical society. Photo ©1999 Penny Gentieu
Increase Mathews house in Putnam, where the portraits of Alvah and Anna Buckingham hang. 

Photo ©1999 Penny Gentieu

The Tea-Dyed Brown Dress

I recently found these photos in my inherited family albums. The first one, from 1908, is of my grandfather’s only sister, Elise. I never knew anything about her, but learned that she died at age 4 of typhoid fever, the year this photo was taken. The second photo is my Aunt Elise in 1925. I realized that she was named after this little girl. The third is my Aunt Julia in 1933, who was named after my grandfather’s mother, Julia Buckingham Pinkerton.

About 20 years ago, when my daughter was five, Aunt Elise gave me the dress. It wasn’t in any condition to put on my daughter. I didn’t know the story of the dress, but it seemed spooky. I kept it in a drawer, wrapped in tissue paper. I took it out last week when I discovered these photos.

Imbued with the mystery of the child who died in 1908 and my aunts who wore the dress for formal portraits by the famous studios of Bachrach in 1925 and CL Lewis in 1933, it is disintegrating at the sleeves, having been hand-patched in various places apparently long ago.

There was a lump in the fabric, something in the pocket — I was a little afraid to see what it was! I pulled it out, and the message from my female ancestors, going all the way back to my great grandmother Julia Buckingham Pinkerton, who probably sewed it, couldn’t have been sweeter. It was a century-old hand-crocheted hankie with a girl with a bow in her hair and bounce in her step, and the words, Tuesday’s child is full of grace.