A LENS DIMLY
FASHION WITH BOOP
By Dick Kraus
Newsday Staff Photographer (Retired)
First of all, her name isn’t really Boop. This is a moniker
that we all kind of pinned on her.
Second, I want to apologize to Boop and to my readers for what
may seem to be an unusually harsh description of her. I would
to have been more compassionate, but when push came to shove,
see how I could have done it any other way, given her role at
It seemed as though Boop had been there forever. She was there
when I started in 1960 and she was still working when I left
She was a young spinster in 1960; a single woman who lived
with her mother and was devoted to her care. When I retired
she was a senior citizen spinster, who now lived alone since
the death of her mother, several years before.
She was short and stocky with a round face that looked like
it was shaped out of putty. Her clothes were frumpy looking.
looking. She was frumpy.
And, she was the Fashion and Beauty Editor at Newsday. She
was the one that thousands of our female readers turned to
When I first started working with Boop, in the 60’s, Newsday
was still a rather small, regional, six day a week tabloid.
invited to cover the big fashion designers and their shows
in Manhattan. So Boop used to glean her stories from fashion mags
and then she
would put a local spin on them. She would interview the buyers
from some local department store to see what our readers were buying.
Then she would get one of her cronies to model these clothes
us. I can’t describe the torture that inflicted on our
stalwart staff of photographers.
These “models” had no talent, whatsoever. They had no
style. They had no grace or charm. Most of them were North Shore
matrons who were every bit as frumpy as our Fashion and Beauty Editor.
We would have to photograph them in their homes, since, at that point
in time, we didn’t have a photo studio worthy of the name.
So, there we were, in their furniture-filled living room, without
any uncluttered background to showcase the dress. While the matron “model” was
dressing, we would set up some lights in the least busy area of the
room. When the “model” was ready, we would ask them to
strike an attractive pose. You know what I mean. I’m sure that
you’ve seen the models in “Mademoiselle,” “Elle” or “Vogue.” Those
lovely, slim girls would pose provocatively; adjusting their sinewy
bodies to best show off the lines of the dress. Our “models” would
stand stout and defiant with both stout and defiant legs firmly
planted on the plush living room carpet and their flabby arms
their ample bosoms.
Please, Mrs. Cadwalader,” I would plead, “turn your
body to the left and extend your left leg slightly forward.
place the fingers of your left hand upon the back of the sofa.”
Mrs. C would frown at my audacity in suggesting that she change
her stance. She would shift her frumpy frame but nothing she
help out in any way. I would attempt to distort my frumpy 6’ 4” frame
to illustrate what I had in mind. I didn’t object to looking
like a fool if it would result in an acceptable photograph. I would
struggle and sweat to try to get a graceful line to appear in this
woman’s body as I contorted myself into what I imagined
a real model would look like. But, since neither Mrs. C nor
it was a comic farce resulting in futility. I would do the
best that I could under the circumstance.
Years later, when Newsday gained prominence and stature as
a 7 day a week newspaper and our circulation grew to make us
daily in the country, we began to cover fashion events with
the best of them. During Fashion Week, that seasonal event
all the major
designers held showcase fashion extravaganzas in the big ballrooms
of New York City’s top hotels, I would often be assigned to
the early coverage of each day, since I was the early photographer
on duty. While I detested getting up before dawn and facing the arduous
2 or 3 hour drive from Long Island to Manhattan in the crush of rush
hour commuter traffic, I usually got to attend a designer’s
breakfast which at least offered some good coffee, scrambled
eggs and a flaky croissant. Then I had to fight for a decent
the runway in order to get good angles on the fashions as the
models strutted down the path between fashion photographers
in the front
and fashion writers and buyers in the rows behind.
I always tried to get a seat near Boop so that she could signal
me whenever a design appealed to her. She would always suggest
I just shoot everything that came down the runway. Then we
could print up every negative and she could select the shots
needed. Well, that wasn’t going to happen. That was just
too labor intensive for me. I would be shooting three or four
shows each day
and that meant hundreds of negatives for me to develop, caption
and have the darkroom crew print up so that she could choose
two or three
for each show. And then, only one or two pictures might appear
on the Fashion Page. I told her that she would have to let
me know which
ones she might write about and forget the rest. My biggest
problem was that I had to write some kind of description of
for each caption so that she could match it up with her prose.
I am amazed how much I learned about fashion terms. I learned
that light purple might be lilac or mauve. I learned the difference
chenille and crepe.
I would have to bang off a couple of quick frames while the
model was in shooting range and hopefully was kind of facing
drop the camera onto its neck straps and grab the pad and pencil
lap and scribble furiously before I got the nod that Boop wanted
the next model coming down the line.
That was also a major bone of contention between us. Frequently,
Boop would wait until the model had reached the end of the
runway and had her back to me before she would say, “I want that one.” Sometimes
the model would be disappearing behind the stage curtains when
she would tell me. I kept telling her that she had to give
me longer lead times if she wanted me to get her shots. In
her defense, though,
I have to say that she was often too occupied with writing
to realize that the next fashion would be one that she wanted.
Well, at least I was getting some of the top models in the
country in my photos.
We photographers really hit our stride when we moved into a
new building where we had a huge, state of the art photo studio.
Now the Fashion
Editor hired professional models and had the designers ship
goods to us so that we could do a creditable shoot in our studio,
with terrific looking backdrops and hi tech lighting. Now it
was pure joy to shoot fashion and if I wanted to ask the professional
model to extend her leg, she knew just what to do and I didn’t
have to contort my ungainly body to show her what I wanted. In fact,
most of the time I would simply explain to each model that I had
my lights set up to best show off each dress if she turned to the
right or left. Then I would ask the model to strike a pose and when
she saw the strobes go off, just switch to another pose. These girls
were pros. They didn’t need any distracting directions
from me. It might take six or eight shots before I felt comfortable
with what I had. Then she would trot off to our dressing room
and the next model would be in place. The shoot went quickly
and it saved the company a considerable amount of money in
But, by then Boop was no longer the Fashion and Beauty Editor.
She had been relegated to covering Senior Citizen features
light stories. Now, we had a Fashion Editor, an Assistant Fashion
Editor, a Stylist and an Art Director, all dedicated to the
Sometimes it was tough for the photographers to try to please
each of them. I might get the Assistant Fashion Editor telling
me to change
the backdrop for the shot of the pale yellow chiffon dress.
She would suggest something in maybe a lime seamless paper
tell her that the dress would blend in with the backdrop.
But,” she would protest, “the lime will make the yellow
We’re shooting black and white film, here,” I would explain. “Think
in terms of gray. You”ll get light gray on light gray.”
When we started using color film, that problem went away.
It could get unpleasant when all the chefs were in the kitchen.
There would be conflicting orders and every one of them thought
was the ultimate chief cook.
The Fashion Editor would always get upset because I would usually
expend only six or eight shots before dismissing the model
for the next shot.
“ Joe always shoots four or five rolls of film on each shot.”
Well, I’m not Joe,” I would answer. “If I feel
that I have enough good shots, I’ll move on to the next one.
If you are dissatisfied with what you get on your desk, feel free
to complain to the Chief Photo Editor and he’ll send
Joe to all your assignments.”
I guess she never did, but that didn’t stop her from
ragging on me every time. Actually, Joe was one of my heroes.
that he was the best photographer on the staff. But his style
were different and while I learned many good tips on photography
from him, I never learned to keep shooting after I felt that
I had the best shots I could make already on film.
Those were the times that I missed Boop.