ALEX CHADWICK, host:
Photo Op, DAY TO DAY'S semi regular photo feature, the one where we encourage you to go online to see what were talking about: Go to npr.org, find the Programs and Schedules button at the top of that page, find DAY TO DAY in there and you will find Photo Op.
Today we are talking to Danny Goldfield, a particularly timely Photo Op interview because Danny runs a project called NYChildren - New York Children. He is photographing children who live in New York City, children from every country in the world. Danny Goldfield, welcome to DAY TO DAY.
Mr. DANNY GOLDFIELD (Photographer): Thank you very much.
CHADWICK: I've seen your photos of children; they are online at your site and we will link to that. I want to ask you what advice would you have for parents who are going to be interested in taking pictures of their children because it's Halloween.
Mr. GOLDFIELD: I don't know. I guess the only advice I would have is to take a lot of photos and then be merciless when you edit. And hopefully you'll find a good one.
CHADWICK: The thing that is fun about talking to you about Photo Op is you didn't know how to take pictures before you began doing this project. But now you have a pretty impressive Web site up there and you have kids who I think I see something in these kids' faces. You know, they're good photographs, if I may so.
Mr. GOLDFIELD: Well, thank you. I'm very happy with the photographs. And I think the thing is I've actually had people write to me with advice on how to, you know, take pictures; they write via the e-mail. And the one bit of advice that I give is just to always remember that there's no camera and no photograph more important than the person you're photographing. And as long as you keep that in mind, I think that the results will be good.
CHADWICK: Do you ask children to do something? Do you ask them to play or to smile or say cheese?
Mr. GOLDFIELD: No. Basically, when I show up at someone's house to do the photography, usually I'm showing up at their house or meeting them somewhere in the neighborhood. Usually, I haven't met the family before. And so when I come in the house, I like to go down to the child's eye level and introduce myself and say hello. And then I'll ask them if I can take their photograph. And sometimes it actually works out that the child will initially say no, and the parent, you know, will say the man's here to take your picture. And I'll usually look up at the parent and defend the child and say no, no, it's okay. And I think when they realize that they sort of have some control over the situation, they tend to fill the room, and I think that's part of why the results are nice.
CHADWICK: What's so interesting about this project is you're taking all these pictures of children who are in New York, but they're from every country in the world. You're not from New York, and you're not even a photographer. When you started out on this, you'd gone to film school.
Mr. GOLDFIELD: Yeah. I mean I guess I worked for years as an art director, so I was familiar with creating imagery. So it's just more the technical aspects of photography that I had to sort of learn very quickly.
CHADWICK: Tell me how you started the New York Children Project.
Mr. GOLDFIELD: Well, I actually thought of the idea in 2003, when I was driving cross-country. Actually, it was in the spring of 2003 and I thought of the idea about a week before the war in Iraq began. I was meeting with lots of different people along the way, and a lot of them felt very strongly about what was going on as we were building up to our invasion of Iraq. And I just thought that a lot of the images that we were seeing were of loss and death, and I thought of this idea and I thought it was a good way to put out some positive images that could maybe strike a - you know, give a little bit of balance in terms of the imagery that we were seeing on a daily basis.
CHADWICK: How many pictures are up at your Web site now?
Mr. GOLDFIELD: I think there's about 35 pictures on the Web site. I often change the slideshow every month or two and include - you know, so far I've photographed children from 132 different countries, but on the Web site I tend to put up just 35 or 40 pictures at a time and switch it often.
CHADWICK: So 132 countries. You would have - what? - about 70 countries to go?
Mr. GOLDFIELD: Actually 62. My list has 194 countries on it.
CHADWICK: You must get asked this question a lot, but do you have a favorite photo of all these pictures that you've taken or a story of a photo?
Mr. GOLDFIELD: I wouldn't say there's a favorite. But one of my favorite stories is when I was photographing the children from Iraq, the family that I met I think really embodied sort of the spirit of this project. Because both the parents had lost - this was a second marriage for both the mother and the father of the children I photographed, and they'd both lost their spouses when they were quite young and they each had kids from a previous marriage. And they came together and they had two beautiful children, Basim and Sarah(ph), and that's who I photographed.
And I spent the day with them, and they were just incredibly generous and incredibly welcoming. And at the end of the day, after we did the photography, they prepared a big meal and they invited some of their neighbors and we had a dinner. And I just thought it really - like this family really sort of embodied everything that the project is about, where it's, you know, people sort of suffering some sort of loss and then figuring out a way to overcome that and to reorient their view of themselves and their world. And they just have a beautiful family - and I'm still friendly with them to this day - and I think that spirit that they show is what this project's all about.
CHADWICK: Danny Goldfield, of NYChildren. Danny, thank you.
Mr. GOLDFIELD: Thank you.
CHADWICK: For a slideshow of some of Danny's pictures and a list of his tips for great photographs of kids, go our Web site, npr.org. And DAY TO DAY continues.
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