The Blanket

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I have chosen as my iconic image a photograph taken soon after I finished my first workshop with Minor White. This image represented a remarkable moment of discovery for me. I was still living with my parents at that time, and on laundry day my mother had just pulled the sheets off all the beds in the house. Running upstairs, a few steps before the top I spied this blanket tossed on my parents bed, lighted by windows at either side. Without thinking, I said "Wow! I need to photograph that!", so I got out my Calumet 4x5" view camera and set it up on a tripod near the top of the stairs, to get the right viewpoint.

After shooting a couple of negatives, I spent the rest of the day tossing blankets on beds and photographing them. None of the results were even remotely worth printing.

This blanket appeared in the exhibit "Photography, U.S.A." in the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln, Massachusetts, in 1968.

The near symmetry and semi-theatrical lighting have produced a variety of interesting responses from viewers. Some have wondered at first glance if it was a nude. Others have found it suggestive or "sexy." One viewer asked "Who's under the blanket?" and another responded "How many people are under the blanket?" Yet another said "It's just a blanket."

None of this was in my mind at the moment of exposure. My own reaction was entirely visceral and unconscious. But I have learned to accept and be grateful for those moments when the intuition sees something that the intellect is too slow to grasp.

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