Friday, September 2, 2011

Hank Lender's Photographic Legacy

"The Man in White"
Copyright 2005 by Herman J. Lender
Dad was an accomplished man on many levels, including having a good sense of humor.  I was with him when Dr. Kimmel, his cancer surgeon, visited him the night before his final surgery.  The odds weren't good, and one of Dr. Kimmel’s final comments was that Dad’s chances of survival were, "miniscule."  After Dr. Kimmel left, Dad said, "Well, at least I don't have to worry about running out of money."

Then he got serious.  He made a rueful comment about "all this knowledge" he'd accumulated, and that it would pass on with him.  Dad seemed to be interested in just about everything—classical music, photography, opera, The Beatles, bread baking, gardening, finance, running; the list is endless—and after high school was totally self educated.  We talked about his legacy and I made the point that the knowledge he accumulated, his interest in things, and his intense approach to learning about them was something that would be carried on through his four sons and all his grandchildren.  Ironically, one thing we didn't talk about was his photography, a life-long interest of his.

Copyright 2005 by Herman J. Lender
My brothers and I grew up hearing about Leicas, Nikons, Hasselblad's, telephoto lenses, light meters and f-stops.  Dad built basement darkrooms in each of the three houses in Mt. Tabor we lived in growing up, then another in New Canaan after I went off to college.  We all experienced the magic of going into the darkroom with Dad and watching under a dim yellow bulb as Dad's 35mm black-and-white images appeared in the developer bath.  He taught us how to pick up a photo from the developer bath by the corner with the plastic tweezer, let it drain, then dunk it in the fixative, then in the water bath.  Sometimes I detect a scent that reminds me of those chemicals and it always takes me back to those days.

After Mom died a year ago, we went through all of Mom and Dad's things to close up her apartment.  They had tons of his framed prints on the walls and stacked in boxes in the closets; they’re still sitting in my attic because my brothers and I haven't finished divvying them up.  Most of Dad's 35mm negatives and his color slides are upstairs in their house at Twin Lakes.  But after we closed up Mom's apartment, I put all of Dad's digital collection—he converted to digital in 2000—on 16 GB USB flash memory drives and sent one to each of my brothers.  So that's another part of Dad's legacy we can all carry on.

Copyright 2005 by Herman J. Lender
The cover photos for all three of my books—Trojan Horse, The Gravy Train and Bull Street—are Dad's.  Dad's originals are presented here, before I cropped and Photoshopped the first two so the lettering would stand out on the covers.  Most think the pictures are of Wall Street, which was the image I intentionally tried to evoke based on the content of my books, but they're actually of Second Avenue and the 59th St. Bridge, taken from the balcony of Manette’s and my 24th floor apartment at 58th St. and Second Avenue in New York City.  Dad titled the photo for the Trojan Horse cover, at top left, "The Man in White."  If you look closely, you can see a man dressed completely in white jaywalking through the heavy traffic (he’s inside the “D” of “Lender” on the book’s cover).  The photo for the cover of The Gravy Train, at center, is about the same shot taken at night.  The Bull Street cover photo is at left, a night shot of the 59th St. Bridge.

Hank Lender would have been 88 years old today.  Happy Birthday, Dad.

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