© Claire Yaffa, undated, Portrait of Alfred Eisenstaedt

"I began the Master Series of Photographers when I became a photographer, 45 years ago.  The early series included Gene Smith, Barbara Morgan, Lisette Model, Andres Kertez and Alfred Eisenstadt, who couldn’t have been nicer. After Eisenstadt died, I returned to his office and it was just as he had left it, but he was no longer there. His presence remained for me in the boxes of photographs and photographs on the walls and the photograph I had because he allowed me to take his portrait."

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© Claire Yaffa, undated, Portrait of Henri Cartier-Bresson

"I was able to photograph Henri Cartier-Bresson because of the graciousness of Martine Franck. As I rang the bell to their apartment, overlooking the Tuileries, to say that I was nervous would be a complete understatement. The door opened for me and there was Martine — beautiful, warm and welcoming. She talked with me first and said no way should I use flash.

She then introduced me to Cartier-Bresson who was sitting at a table in their apartment. I was surprised there were no photographs of his or Martine’s on the walls, but there was the Leica camera next to him on the table. I asked if I could photograph them together and they graciously agreed. I witnessed the love and closeness they shared with one another.”


© Claire Yaffa, undated, Portrait of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Martine Franck

"They went on their terrace and when he was tired and had enough of me, he smiled and waved me away. He was tired when I was leaving and I took this photograph of him as he was rubbing his eyes."

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© Claire Yaffa, undated, Portrait of Albert Einst…… sorry: Gordon Parks

"When I first began photographing, I benefited from the advice of teachers of photography and also seeing photographs that resonated for me. I liked taking “pretty pictures” as Cornell Capa called them and I started photographing because of the beauty of my own children. It wasn’t until Capa asked me what I wanted to say with my photographs that I was able to direct my concerns about society and also to photograph those photographers whose work I admired.

It was intimidating and unsettling to approach a photographer whose work was published or appeared in museums and was well known for his or her talent and art. Once I summoned the courage to ask if I could take their photograph, I discovered the more famous they were, the nicer they were to me and tried to put me at ease. The photographers were also instructive. When I was photographing Gordon Parks, he sat down in a chair and I was standing in front of him. He asked, “Why are you always looking down?” and suggested a lower vantage point, which is the picture you see above.”

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