By Dick Kraus
Newsday Staff Photographer (Retired)
Dorie was a piece of work. She was also Newsday's Home writer. She was our definitive expert on home decorating and she had a very definite mind set on what was good taste and what was not. She was eccentric. She never seemed to age. In the thirty odd years that I knew Dorie she looked like..well, how shall I put it? She looked like a senior citizen from day one until I retired. She was barely five feet tall and was handicapped with a bad leg.

None of these things made her a bad person. She wasn't. But, she was eccentric. Working with Dorie was an experience.

Dorie had to come up with a weekly home decor feature. She would select a house that some reader had recommended and with a photographer in tow, would descend upon the unsuspecting family. Unsuspecting, not in the sense that she would arrive unannounced. She would always call ahead and make an appointment. But, the homeowners had no idea what was in store for them. That kind of unsuspecting.

Some homes met with her approval and the photo shoot would go fairly smoothly. But, frequently, as the photographer was setting up his camera, tripod and lights, Dorie would exclaim loudly, and in earshot of the family, "Oh, that's an ugly sofa. We have to move it out of the room!" The lady of the house, who had probably spend a fortune on a decorator's advice and another fortune purchasing the sofa, would gasp in horror.

Dorie would ask the photographer to move it out of camera range. Most of us refused, trying to suggest to her that we were there to portray the home owner's taste in decor. Dorie's response was usually, "Oh, alright. But, make sure that the monstrosity is at the edge of the picture and out of focus."

She directed the hapless photographers like Cecil B. DeMille directing "Gone With The Wind." It was always a production. At one home, of which she approved, she told me, "Dick, I want you to focus on this end of the room and make sure that I can see the lamps by the sofa. I also want to see the window treatment on the wall on the left and the antique credenza against the right wall. And be sure to get the painting on the wall behind us."

Incredulously I asked, "Dorie, do you expect all of that in one photo?"

"Of course," was her answer.

"Dorie," I gasped. "There isn't a lens made that will photograph 360 to show all four walls?"

"Oh, don't give me that technical mumbo jumbo," she said. "You photographers can do anything."

I suppose that I should have been flattered by her confidence in my skills. But, nothing could be further from the truth.

Dorie insisted in looking through the viewfinder before the button was pushed, to make sure that the photographer had followed her instructions implicitly. This led to a constant and immediate problem whenever I showed up on her assignments. I always worked those jobs with my camera on a tripod. My tripod is set to accomodate my 6' 3" height. Dorie, as I said, was barely 5' tall. She would strain on her tip toes to look through my viewfinder. She did this on every assignment and never, ever, came close.

"I don't know why they insist on sending you on my assignments?" she would complain.

"That's because my editors know how much I love ya, Dorie," I would tell her.

"Yeah, yeah. Take the camera off of that thing so I can see what you're shooting," she would say.

"Come on, Dorie. I just spent twenty minutes lining up the camera so that all the vertical lines stay vertical and also include all of the impossible tasks that you demanded of me."

This was true. Our Director of Photography had fits whenever a photographer came back with leaning walls. That's why I made sure that my camera was absolutely level; especially when using the extreme wide angle lens that I needed to use in order to include everything that Dorie insisted on.

"If I take off the camera and hand it to you, you'll never get the same angle that I had set up."

She grumbled for the rest of the shoot. "Why can't you be nice like Bill Senft?"

Bill Senft, another of our shooters, had a clever way around this problem. Years ago, Bill had owned an old Leica rangefinder camera. He had a very wide angle lens for it which required an auxiliary viewfinder that clipped to the hot shoe on top of the Leica. He sold the camera but for some reason, he still had that viewfinder. Now that he was shooting with Nikon single lens reflex cameras, he had no use for it. But, he kept it in his camera bag for just such occasions. It mattered not what lens Bill was using, whenever Dorie asked to look through his camera viewfinder, Bill would produce the auxiliary finder from the Leica and say, "Here, Dorie. This is what I'm getting."

She loved Senft.

And, we all liked Dorie. She gave us lots of amusing stories to tell throughout the years. She was like that eccentric old aunt in everyone's family. She could be difficult but everyone liked her.

Dick Kraus



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