We hit the street. He was hungry but he refused to eat my anchovy sandwiches, so we ended up having grits and eggs at the Pink Tea Cup. Somehow the day slipped away. It was cloudy and dark and Robert kept watching for the sun. Finally, in late afternoon, it started to clear. We crossed Washington Square just as the sky threatened to darken again. Robert became worried that we were going to miss the light, and we ran the rest of the way to One Fifth Avenue.
The light was already fading. He had no assistant. We never talked about what we would do, or what it would look like. He would shoot it. I would be shot.
I had my look in mind. He had his light in mind. That is all.
Sam's apartment was Spartan, all white and nearly empty, with a tall avocado tree by the window overlooking Fifth Avenue. There was a massive prism that refracted the light, breaking it into rainbows cascading on the wall across from a white radiator. Robert placed me by the triangle. His hands trembled slightly as he readied to shoot. I stood.
The clouds kept moving back and forth. Something happened with his light meter and he became slightly agitated. He took a few shots. He abandoned the light meter. A cloud went by and the triangle disappeared. He said, "You know, I really like the whiteness of the shirt. Can you take the jacket off?"
I flung my jacket over my shoulder, Frank Sinatra style. I was full of references. He was full of light and shadow.
"It's back," he said.
He took a few more shots.
"I got it."
"How do you know?"
"I just know."
He took 12 pictures that day.
Within a few days he showed me the contact sheet. "This one has the magic," he said.
When I look at it now, I never see me. I see us.
From the book Just Kids by Patti Smith. Copyright 2010 by Patti Smith. Reprinted by arrangement with Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.