Vivian Cherry: Vignettes from a Lifetime

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Vivian Cherry, a recent recipient of the B&H Photo Lifetime Achievement Award, has a new memoir out, Vignettes: Chapters from a Life. VIGNETTES, a collection of chapters from the life of Vivian Cherry, integrates two art forms, memoir and photography. Ms. Cherry is a quintessential New Yorker, born of immigrant parents. The book is a stunning account of the past of a photographer who came of age during WWII in NYC. She is also one of the last surviving Photo League members at 92 years old as of the publication of this article.

We recently talked to Vivian a bit about her experiences as a photographer during her years and years of shooting.

B&H Photo: When shooting on the street, are you mobile, or do you camp out in front of an interesting backdrop and wait for the decisive moment?

Vivian: I am mostly mobile. However, when I do see an interesting backdrop or a scene that catches my attention, I'll stay and wait for the decisive moment.

B&H Photo: Do you prefer to look at a color image, or black-and white?

Vivian: I do think that the color of a photograph depends on the subject. Some subjects, I believe, are much better in black-and-white, while others are better in color.

B&H Photo: Vivian, you are a hero to many, but who was your photographic hero or heroine?

Vivian: My heroes are Paul Strand, Helen Levitt, Dorothea Lange and Fons Ianelli. Also, the French photographer Eugene Atget.

B&H Photo: You have seen many technological advancements in photography. Which one has had the greatest impact on your photography?

Vivian: If I hadn’t seen the technical changes in photography, I would be blind. It is incredible. There are so many that affect me.  

For one, it has become so much easier to photograph and also to print my images with Photoshop. There is instantaneous feedback.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of B&H Photo Video Pro Audio

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I was able to attend Ms. Cherry's presentations at B&H and found her photographs interesting and fun.  She is a maven at presenting photographic images in formats that are timeless and fascinating.  She is well worth a gander and an experience to listen to and learn from.