Every now and then you meet someone that is eccentric in such a way that upon first meeting them, you find yourself in disbelief of the their very existence. You couldn’t have imagined such a character. How could they possibly be real? This was the case with Marko.
After spending years in Bolivia as a botanist, Marko decided to use his airfare money home to purchase a piece of property in the obscure and remote town of Quime, Bolivia. This decision sealed Marko’s fate and forever tied him to Bolivia. Roughly 30 years have passed and Marko has transformed his plot of land into a luxurious (by Bolivian standards) home with a garden full of various plants. I was surprised to hear that no mail comes to Quime. Marko expressed no discouragment by this, adding that if he ever wanted to buy something like a microscope, he would just take the 6 hr. bus ride into town. With only rare visitors like myself to keep him company, Marko’s typical weeks of isolation have led to a disposition that is both eccentric and nostalgic. I felt as if I was talking with someone from a different time.
This gentleman interested me because he looked like the quintessential traveling writer. I took a few photos of him, but as with most good street portraits, it’s the first or second shot that ends up being the final select. During the first shot, the person hasn’t had time to be self-conscious of their appearance yet. The first glance is when people are the most real.
Now in her mid 80’s, Norine continues to shoot fashion in her 4th story walkup studio. She friended me on Facebook not too long ago and finds full time interns through craigslist. Need I say more? Norine is one of the coolest women I know (click here to friend her on facebook).
Originally from Toronto Canada, she was literally one of the first North American models to “get off the boat in Paris” (she booked a prominent modeling campaign the day after arriving). She later founded a successful modeling agency and helped implement a voucher payment system for models, a system that is still used today. She moved on to being a clothing stylist, makeup artist and eventually a fashion photographer, which is what she continues to do today.
Having known her for several years, I can attest to Norine’s youthfulness and loveliness. She has all too many classic stories to tell from her various careers and experiences as a photographer. Just a year or so ago, police cars rushed to Norine’s 15 story apartment building to stop a woman from jumping off the roof. As it turns out, Norine was just having a photoshoot. The 911 caller saw the model near the edge of the roof wearing only a bed sheet blowing in the wind and thought she was going to jump.
These photos are in celebration of Norine’s recent birthday. After having breakfast together, we walked a few blocks to her photography studio, went up 5 flights of steps to the roof and did a few more shots on the fire escape.
Doctors are trying to get her to walk with a cane. Her response is that she’s too vain. I happen to think she’s too young.