Aspects of the journalism profession can seem lonely. Though we meet an endless stream of interesting and compelling people in our reporting, connection to our readers, viewers or listeners is mostly one-way. And though we now have comment sections on publication Web sites, those comments are rarely about our craft and even more rarely about the photographs. Comments tend overwhelmingly to be critical of the subject matter or the others who bother to comment.
I’ve always wondered what reaction my pictures might have, both for telling a story and for their craft.
Then yesterday I received one of the most charming phone calls of my career. An 88-year-old Washingtonian was compelled by an image I made to write a letter to the editor at the New York Times. And better yet, he sleuthed out my phone number and called me to read it to me over the phone.
The smile has yet to leave my face.
Letters to the Editor
The New York Times
620 Eighth Avenue
New York, N.Y. 10018
RE: New York Times October 28, 2010 Business Page 1
Dear Sir: On the Times October 28 Business page is shown a photo by Kevin Moloney placed above a report on Housing Foreclosures.
This photo captures all the elements of an Edward Hopper painting of his late 1920’s period.
Looking into two windows of a house we see a seated woman before the left window – with a dim light on her coming through the window curtains. On her left is a brown desk or bureau with a small red object on top and the four rear window-panes provide photographic balance to the sitting figure.
The face of the young lady half in shadow, half in light evidences isolation, loneliness as well as sadness.
Turning to the adjoining apartment we see that the window is shut and the dimly lit room contains a bureau, with a green plant and an empty chair with curtains drawn. Our sight of the empty room with no person present emphasizes the isolation of the young lady in the adjoining room. The red object resting on the bureau in her room balances the green plant on the bureau in the adjoining room.
From the outside, the two windows are framed in a blue paint line and both windows are united into a central panel by a flat surrounding black wooden frame. The photographic portrayal of the isolated individual in her dimly lit surroundings reminds one of a Hopper painting.
William R. Haley*
*As a graduate of Princeton ’45 I have had a continuing interest in art. In 1990 I endowed the James F. Haley Lecture Series at Princeton. The speaker earlier this year was the Director of the Museum of Modern Art.
Thank you Mr. Haley.