As part of a B/W challenge happening on Facebook right now I am posting this series of 9 images all taken in less than 5 minutes of each other in 1989. This is every frame I made before, and after, my now well known photograph of John Gotti (#5) and his defense team looking like they were about to pull guns out gangland-style. (As you can see, they were simply putting their jackets on after lunch). Gotti was on trial in Federal Court in lower Manhattan where he was later acquitted. I was on assignment for the New York weekly, 7 Days Magazine (R.I.P.), and we had been tipped that Gotti and his team would be eating at the Italian restaurant, Giambone’s, right behind the Federal courthouse. There was other media there but they were ACROSS the street. You can see in shots 5 & 6 Gotti himself look right at me as if to say, “who is this wise guy?”. After it was published, I gave a print to the owner of the restaurant who kept it in a drawer so as not to offend the judges who frequented the restaurant. Seen in the photographs are co-defense lawyers, Gerald Shargel and Bruce Cutler, Gotti’s brother Peter Gotti who also went to prison. And in the second to the last frame, you can see John Miller, who was then an investigative journalist for NBC, walking up and smiling at Gotti. He is now the deputy commissioner for counter terrorism for the NYPD.
© 2014 GREG MILLER
I am honored to have been asked to photograph the prestigious 2013 George Gund Foundation annual report highlighting Cleveland’s beautiful urban farming community during last year’s Summer harvest.
Ash Wednesday 2014.
Here are the results of photographing this year’s Ash Wednesday for my series, Unto Dust.
I have been photographing Ash Wednesday in Midtown Manhattan for 16 years, starting in 1997. It is a slow process photographing for this series only one day a year. I am inspired to continue this series by the outward display of faith that the wearing of ashes is about.
Happy Easter weekend to you and your family!
Under the Williamsburg Bridge, 1997. From the series, Gotham.
The Bus Stop Between Two Worlds
Where I live in eastern Connecticut is a small, rural college town. My wife and I live with our two daughters, a 7-year-old and a 6-month-old, down a winding road from our local dairy farm. It is a quaint and peaceful place.
On a cold December night, watching children light the menorah at our friends’ Hanukkah celebration on the day of one our nation’s worst mass shootings. I struggled, like the nation and the world, to come to grips with a shooting at an elementary school about an hour away from my home. As the months passed, however — as I waited for a period of national introspection and mourning — I was stunned at how the event, the people and families affected were quickly eclipsed and co-opted by America’s raging gun control debate.
I just haven’t been able to shake the feeling that we missed the point; that we have become callous and have lost our appreciation for the preciousness of life. I am left with nagging questions: What if we were to lose our ability to cherish life? Have we lost it already, like an animal falling off the endangered species list? I think: How can anyone not see children, all children, as their own, as nieces and nephews, or even as themselves?
In the early pre-dawn hours, heading to the airport for an out-of-town assignment, I see children and teenagers, like apparitions or woodland creatures from a C.S. Lewis novel, waiting in the bitter cold for the rumbling school bus to arrive along our town roads. If I passed by five minutes earlier or later, having been picked up, they would not have been there, appearing and vanishing in the flicker of my headlights.
As my daughter and I go our separate ways each morning, I see her with her pink and purple sparkly backpack, hairclips and boots. She goes to school, and I go to work. Somehow, in spite of what I read in the morning paper, I am actually able to trust that things are going to be fine. And like so many other parents, I am able to lose myself in my work during the day, and almost forget about her. Almost.
In the afternoon, six hours later, I am reminded of where she and I left off. Like a record player starting up mid-song, the conversation resumes, punctuated by news of the day: an assembly; rope climbing in gym; ice cream at lunch; and the day’s lesson: “I’m as tall as an emperor penguin!”
There is a whole lifetime that happens between 9 am and 3 pm, a lifetime that begins at the end of our driveway. To the parent, it is an invisible existence. From kindergarten to 12th grade, no matter how involved you are with your child’s school day, there is a lot you miss. That spot where the school bus stops at the end of the driveway is a membrane between two worlds. Children and teenagers stand out there vulnerable, brave, trusting that they are safe. Trusting that we cherish life itself.