Tag Archives: Photography

An Andrew Lapidus Gallery

by Rick Teller '70
Andy Lapidus with his dog Radnik.
Andy Lapidus with his dog, Radnik. (Click on images to enlarge.)

Andy Lapidus – Andrew Stone Lapidus – wasn’t at Williston Academy for very long.  Having spent three years at Avon Old Farms, he was tempted north to Williston’s greener French Department and pastures in 1964.  Away from the classroom and the soccer field, he was rarely without a camera, and at a time when Williston didn’t offer a photography class, organized a camera club.

He left Williston in 1966 for the Cate School in Carpinteria, California, met his future bride Roxanne, and eventually shifted his professional attentions from French to counseling and advocacy for youth.  They raised three sons, Peter, Alex, and Paul. Sadly, he left us, aged 72, in 2010.  A few months ago Roxanne sent the Archives a cache of photographs he’d taken at Williston.  We exchanged a couple of letters – she was initially surprised that anyone remembered him.  Roxie visited the campus at Reunion last May and met others who had fond recollections as well.

doorBut of course I remembered him.  Andy was unforgettable.  Perhaps I should qualify that memory.  In 1964 I was 12, a somewhat nerdish, classically-trained Williston faculty brat.  Brats of my ilk found Andy fascinating.  Here was an adult who didn’t take adult-ness too seriously, who would break off a grownup conversation to deliver a wicked aside meant only for juvenile ears, or deliver a straight-faced pun so horrible that even Horace Thorner would shudder.  He was subversively funny.  I think we understood that deep down, he was one of us.

And his camera was an essential accessory.  Some of Andy’s native whimsy comes through in his photographs, especially in certain portraits, which often capture something unspoken about their subjects.

Here is a sampling.  Where images are uncaptioned, it is because we don’t know who the people are.  Readers are invited to help us with that; please email archives@williston.com; if you can fill in a blank, or if anyone is mis-identified, we’d like to know!

Chief cook Alphonse Barry
Chief cook Alphonse Barry
Richard Gregory applying stage makeup to Rogelio Novey
Richard Gregory applying stage makeup to Rogelio Novey

Continue reading

Track and the Camera

Photo by Rachel Deena ’13. Click images to enlarge.

Preparation for the inauguration of the Williston Northampton Athletic Hall of Fame — whose first class will be enshrined on Reunion Weekend, June 6-8 — has involved looking at a great many photographs.  I hadn’t thought about this much before, but it has recently occurred to me that some sports are more photogenic than others.  Before I sink my own ship by suggesting that, for example, all field hockey photos look the same (they don’t!), or that golf images tend to be ruined by golfer’s outfits (can I get back to you?), let me go out on a limb and suggest that one of  the sports that has produced an awful lot of really exciting photography over the years at Williston is Track and Field.

Golf, late 1930s. Those checked trousers and two-tone shoes have never gone out of style. (William Rittase)

There are undoubtedly reasons for this, some of which, truthfully, may reflect this writer’s prejudices.  I mean, preferences.  So we won’t delve too deeply into the psycho-sociological issues of why, for example, from the photographer’s point of view, helmets and sticks can both be dealt with, but not usually at the same time.

(Yu Chen Wang ’15)

OK, let’s be serious.  Is it that track and field athletes, perhaps more than any others, achieve pinnacles of effort and passion that are concentrated in the briefest of durations, perhaps a few seconds, perhaps even less?  Yes, this happens in other sports, but I submit — without meaning to diminish any athlete’s accomplishment — that most of the time the brilliant goal-out-of-nowhere, the impossible catch, is reactive.  For the track and field athlete, successful execution is entirely studied.  And the great jump, the winning acceleration derives from someplace deep within the athlete’s psyche, a place where the soul is quite alone, where all that remains is abandonment to the moment.

(Yu Chen Wang ’15)

Or perhaps this is nonsense.  But the camera has captured some extraordinary track and field moments.  The older images on this page are the work of William Rittase (1894-1968), a Philadelphia-based photographer who specialized in industrial images, but who did some very special catalog work at both Williston and Northampton School in the 1930s and ’40s.  His photos are even more remarkable when one considers that he favored a large-format camera that was not conducive to “action” photography at all.

(William Rittase)

As many are aware, there is a photographic tradition at Williston Northampton.  Bob Couch ’50 mentored student photographers beginning in the 1960s and began to teach photo courses in the ’70s.  That program is now in the capable hands of Edward Hing ’77, himself a Couch protégé.  We offer seven different photography and film courses plus evening lecture programs that bring world-class photographers and photojournalists to campus.  And wherever one looks on campus, there are talented kids with cameras looking back.  We’re proud to feature some of their work here as well.

(Rachel Deena ’13)
(William Rittase)
William Rittase
(Yu Chen Wang ’15)
(William Rittase)
(Rachel Deena ’13)
(William Rittase)

We welcome your comments and questions!  Please use the reply form below.

Faces of 1862

With the rise of relatively inexpensive albumen printing in the 1860s, photographic visiting cards—universally known by the more tony-sounding cartes de visite, reflecting their French origins—became wildly popular.

Of a standard size of 2½ by 4 inches, they could be inserted in commercially available albums.  School and college students, no doubt encouraged by photography studios, soon took advantage.  In the decades before the rise of the photographic yearbook (Williston’s Log first appeared in 1902), seniors typically purchased photo albums and filled them with the cartes de visite of their classmates.

Recently a set of cartes de visite stamped “Graduating Class, Williston Seminary, 1862” came into the hands of Rex Solomon ‘84, who has generously donated them to the Williston Northampton Archives.  It is a significant gift.  Though incomplete, it is the earliest set of class photographs in the Archives’ collection.

The images are in especially good condition for their age and chemistry.  Typically, chemicals, impurities, and moisture in the original paper, glue, and cardboard backing react with the environment and one another, causing fading, yellowing, mildew, and the deterioration of the paper itself.  But after 150 years, these photographs remain remarkably sharp and clean.

Continue reading

Our Earliest Photograph?

The campus, 1867 (Click to enlarge)

American photography came into its own during the Civil War, when photojournalists like Matthew Brady and Alexander Gardner documented the conflict.  Peacetime brought photography to the civilian population, as hundreds of photographers set up studios or embraced picture-taking as a hobby.

We have what may be the earliest extant photograph of the old Williston Seminary campus on Main Street, opposite Shop Row.  Today the Easthampton Savings Bank stands on the site of North Hall, the leftmost structure.  Beyond North Hall we see Middle and South Halls and the Payson Church, now the Easthampton Congregational Church.  The image is by an anonymous photographer, and measures approximately 14 x 10½ inches.  The event of being photographed was sufficiently novel to attract the attention of most of the students, who turned out to watch the process and, not coincidentally, to get into the picture.

Continue reading