Liza Hennessey Botkin

I was born and raised in New York City, but my photographic career began in Los Angeles in the 70s when I was working for Michael Childers as his Studio Manager. One day Michael asked me if I wanted to buy a camera, a Leica CL. I did, for $80. I took a photography course at Fairfax High and was soon hanging out in the darkroom. I discovered then that I love to print.

I also worked for several years for Lou Stoumen from whom I learned a great deal about printing. We spent many hours in his darkroom making black and white magic. At home I rinky-dinked a darkroom, washed prints in my bathtub or kitchen sink and hung them to dry on window screens attached to hooks in my ceiling.

Since the late 70s, I’ve roamed the streets, malls, markets and public gatherings of Los Angeles. I’m drawn to places where large groups of people tend to congregate. I take my camera, now a Contax T3, with me every day, shooting “from the hip” because I don’t want people to be aware of me. I take pictures where the subjects are weirdly but humorously interacting, in moments that amuse me and make me smile when they come up in the developer

I never studied the art of making pictures in an academic setting, but if there is anyone who has influenced me or defined my work, it is Henri Cartier-Bresson. I, too, search for what he so aptly called “the decisive moment.”

Lou Stoumen and I used to talk about what we referred to as “the nun.” Lou had a shot of Taos where there was a tiny dark figure off to one side, a nun. Without her it would have been a boring shot of Taos, with her it caught your attention.

My photographic project consists of “decisive moments” and “nuns.”
May they both be plentiful.


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