Last night I watched episode 5 of the BBC's Genius of Photography series. For a discussion about Arbus, they tracked down and interviewed Colin Wood. Although his name might not be familiar to photographers his image is. This is what Colin Wood looked like for a split second in 1962:
Amazingly, Colin Wood is recognizable 45 years later as the boy in the photo. The thin frame and eyes are unmistakeable. Perhaps even more amazingly some of the nervous manic energy that Arbus captured still comes through today in Wood's personality. Here's Wood's take on his portait:
"I was absolutely beside myself with energy. I used to eat Junket, which is this pure dessert. I don't know what they made it out of, some like Dow chemical. I think, I think it was about four ingredients away from Napalm. And I used to eat this stuff, like, raw, out of the box, and by the time I was finished with the Napalm or the derivative, I was like walking on the ceiling.
"So along comes this pacific character with really no connection to the inner world of violence, you know, who's wandering around like a cloud with a Hasselblad.
"(showing photo) One of the things I like most about this is these grenades, and I had two of them, and probably the reason I don't have the other one in my hand is because I threw it out the window where we used to live to see if I could blow up the alley.
"From the contact sheet I can see she took about maybe fifteen photos of me, and I was a curiosity for her. And I'm a ham, so in the photos I'm definitely having a pretty fun time, and my feeling about her is that there was this, uh,... I think I liked her because I can see in my face, and definitely here I feel a collaboration, that there would be an encouragement for me to sort of do something a little wacky. She was giving me a little piece of direction. I don't say she suggested I do this, but obviously thematically for her since the other photos don't contain the hand grenade it was important that it be there.
"This is absolutely in many ways capturing an aspect of my life. At the time my mother had just divorced my father, there was a lot of tension at home, I was really very I would say very lonely, but what she was seeking and got which was what her genius is, is the reflection of her own self in many ways, which was very very true, and it was in me."