Photographer to Photographer: Gigi Stoll and Flo Fox

1

My name is Gigi Stoll and I am a photographer based in NYC. Lomography recently sent me two rolls of color 35mm film and this is the first time I’ve shot film in 4 years. They suggested I choose a subject and write a story. When I mentioned this to my friend Flo, she immediately suggested that I should do the story on her and how could I refuse? I used the LC-A+ camera & Fritz the Blitz flash and the film was shot on two separate afternoons.

“Fenciful” by Flo Fox

While walking down a Chelsea street during the summer of 1991, several 8×10 photographs caught my eye in a camera store window. I went in to inquire about the pictures and I discovered they were taken by Flo Fox, Street Photographer-Extraordinaire. All the NYC street images were printed on black and white gelatin silver paper and printed by Flo.

I then dropped $20 for the book “Asphalt Gardens, 69 Photographs by Flo Fox.” The next day on a crosstown bus my girlfriend recognized Flo from the back cover image on the book and approached her. She told Flo about my purchase the day before and how I was dying to meet her. Flo said, “tell her to call me, I am the only Flo Fox in the book.” Soon I began my weekly visit to Flo’s apartment to discuss photography and art. She taught me how to print in her bathroom turned darkroom. Besides learning how to print, Flo became my mentor. She also introduced me to my first photography show and postcard company. We also met in London, Paris and took several bus trips to Woodstock, NY. We even had an exhibit together in NYC. At that time, Flo walked with a cane.

Photograph by Gigi Stoll

Now in 2012, she is only able to move her left hand barely enough to drive her motorized wheelchair. Everything above her neck is completely mobile. I’ve never seen Flo in a bad mood and she doesn’t feel physical pain but she has strength enough to be a strong activist for the physically challenged. She used to build sidewalk ramps made of cement on corners for wheelchair access and also blocked buses whenever their wheelchair lifts weren’t functional. I accompanied her on several of these escapades. Whenever I wasn’t around, Flo handed her camera to trusting strangers to record her courageous feats.

I find it fascinating how Flo’s physical demise has never deterred her from taking pictures. In fact, she has never stopped. Flo Fox is now 66 years old, she is legally blind (born blind in one eye) and the other eye is visually impaired due to MS since the age of 30. Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease that affects the brain and spinal cord. As of yet, there is no cure for MS. In Flo’s good eye, everyone has perfect skin, something similar to grainy film.

Flo lives in Selis Manor or better known as the Associated Blind Building on 23rd Street, NYC. She is often seen driving her motorized wheelchair around the neighborhood. She has inspired several of her home attendants to become photographers. One attendant has already been published. The home attendants are the ones that push Flo’s shutter release button now.

Photographs by Gigi Stoll

At night, Flo is lifted into her bed by a manually operated hoyer lift. Home attendants have to do everything from washing her hair, personal hygiene, dressing her and feeding her meals. They work twelve-hour shifts; they open & read her mail, email, confide in each other, answer her calls, and accompany her everywhere.

Photographs by Gigi Stoll, Indoor location – Flo Fox apartment, Hoyer Lift into bed, Home Attendant: Marva Johnson
Photographs by Gigi Stoll, Outdoor locations – 23rd Street & 7Th Avenue – Selis Manor (Home for the Blind), Entrance & exit. Bad curb cuts on 7th Avenue. Large van/Graffiti on 24th Street, Home Attendant: Alexis Coley

Let’s talk shop: Flo Fox was born in Miami, Florida and was raised in Woodside, Queens. She started shooting film in 1972. Her first camera was a Minolta 101, which could also shoot double exposures. Her favorite film of choice for fifteen years was black and white Ilford HP5. For the last twenty-five years she used Kodacolor 400ASA and now uses Kodak Ultramax film. Though Flo prefers film, she is unable to print anymore so the digital revolution came just in time. Now her select images are scanned and sent directly to a photo lab for printing. At this time, her 35mm negatives number over 120,000 and are still being counted. In her linen closet are numerous archival boxes with over 2000 11”x14” silver gelatin prints.

“Almost a Passover”, “Flatiron in a Puddle”, “Graffiti Trainees”, “Metropolitan Life”, “Mona Luigi”, “Personal Earthquake”, “Someone to Talk to”, “Trying Their Wings”, “Windows ’97” Selection of photographs by Flo Fox

Flo Fox’s photographs are in the permanent collection of The Smithsonian and the Brooklyn Museum. Magazine work includes: LIFE, Sculpture Review and Playboy among others. Flo was also featured in the Joan River’s film “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work”. There is now a documentary film in the process of being made on Flo Fox’s life.

Flo’s work tends to range in the ironic such as her view of Greenwich Village, the old Times Square, Halloween Parades, and Graffiti. During her travels she spent time in many cemeteries photographing fascinating statuary and learning the history of the people in each town. When Flo was able bodied she did some daring photographic stunts, such as the day she hung over the roof’s edge of The World Trade Center and photographed the construction workers on scaffolding who were building the tower. Besides her film Flo always carries a smile in her pocket. Flo Fox remains my inspiration.

• Find Flo Fox on Facebook or her Website
• Videos, TV interviews, slideshows, go to Youtube

After many years as a model, these days Gigi is on the other side of the camera taking portraits and traveling the world as a humanitarian photographer. You can see what she’s into on Pinterest or follow her on facebook or twitter . Want to learn more about Gigi, check out her 5 Questions on Analogue Photography

written by gabysalas on 2012-02-29 in #lifestyle #mentor #gigi-stoll #analogue-photography #art #flo-fox

One Comment

  1. welland
    welland ·

    What a trooper. Good on you! Big respect for this lady. Great article

More Interesting Articles

  • A Salute to the Masters: Buraco (A Tribute to Alfred Eisenstaedt)

    written by sirio174 on 2014-09-21 in #lifestyle
    A Salute to the Masters: Buraco (A Tribute to Alfred Eisenstaedt)

    Alfred Eisenstaedt was one of Life Magazine's greatest photographers, known for his ability to immortalize the storytelling moment of many public events in history. To write this tribute to him, I chose a subject that he photographed in different places and times: card players in public places. The photos in this article were taken at the Patronal Feast of my city Como, during a series of buraco's lessons held by a local card players club.

  • Sharon Heit on the Beauty, Vulnerability and Strength of the Female Form

    written by Julien Matabuena on 2015-07-02 in #people #lifestyle
    Sharon Heit on the Beauty, Vulnerability and Strength of the Female Form

    With a firm grasp on the female form, photographer Sharon Heit both liberates and tells the story of her subjects by means of her craft. Please note that some of the images in this post are NSFW.

    1
  • Lomography Redscale XR 50-200 35mm: Horizon Redscale Doubles!

    written by adi_totp on 2014-08-25 in #reviews
    Lomography Redscale XR 50-200 35mm: Horizon Redscale Doubles!

    About two years ago, sandkorn sent me this film for our doubles. She said that she had already exposed this film using the Horizon Perfekt and shot on a sunny day, so the idea was for me to not overexpose the film. The result was so red!

  • Shop News

    Fuji Instax Wide 300

    Fuji Instax Wide 300

    Shoot wider and bigger with this new instax camera that has film format twice the size of the instax mini films!

  • James Wright's So It Goes x Sri Lanka Photo Diary (Part I)

    written by Julien Matabuena on 2015-03-31 in #world #locations
    James Wright's So It Goes x Sri Lanka Photo Diary (Part I)

    In December last year James Wright, editor and creative director of So It Goes Magazine, went on a two-week trip to Sri Lanka, "a place so long on our bucket list, but up until then, as yet unvisited," he writes on the first of his three-part photo diary. Herein is the first of his series that chronicles his adventures, highlighted by a selection of breathtaking images of the Sri Lankan countryside and the locals, among many other images, captured with his trusty photographic companions: the Leica MP, Lomo LC-A+, and an assortment of films including the LomoChrome Purple.

    2
  • The Instant Project

    written by suizidekid on 2015-06-23 in #world #lifestyle
    The Instant Project

    It was a cold and cloudy winter day in 2012 when I came up with the idea of compiling photographs of people's faces. I decided that the most personal way to do it is through instant shots. They are one of a kind and you immediately have something in your hands.

    16
  • New York - The Best City for Testing LomoChrome Turquoise

    written by zonderbar on 2014-11-11 in #reviews
    New York - The Best City for Testing LomoChrome Turquoise

    Two years ago I swore to myself, I'll be coming back soon!" This October my chance finally came and I flew for the second time to New York City to visit my dear colleagues in the Lomography Gallery Store New York. What I didn’t see coming, though, is the opportunity to test a new secret film during my trip.

  • Shop News

    110 Experiment Kit

    110 Experiment Kit

    With this bundle, you can choose a camera, film and accessories to spice up your 110 shooting experience!

  • Transient Living: The Craft and the Craftsmen of Denver, Colorado

    written by maliha on 2014-12-10 in #world #locations
    Transient Living: The Craft and the Craftsmen of Denver, Colorado

    The people of a city, to me, speak volumes about its culture and sense of community. And that is why I sought out the people who make Denver that much more interesting after the initial period of settling down. My search lead to a few establishments that have contributed to making Denver what it is today. In the second story on Transient Living, I present to you two of such establishments: The Craftsman & Apprentice, and A Small Print Shop.

    2
  • Testing a Yashica TLR Camera After 55 Years in Storage

    written by billseye on 2015-05-11 in #gear #reviews
    Testing a Yashica TLR Camera After 55 Years in Storage

    Though I am not a professional, photography is in my genes. My father was a photographer and technician in the Air Force and accumulated a number of cameras during his life. This is a story about one of those cameras, a Yashica 635 TLR. I brought the camera—after being in storage for about 55 years—back to life with a roll of Portra 160 during the golden hour at Bellevue Botanical Gardens in Washington.

    4
  • Paint the Town Purple: Lomochrome Purple First Impressions

    written by saidseni on 2014-09-07 in #reviews
    Paint the Town Purple: Lomochrome Purple First Impressions

    After many months of reading about the Lomochrome Purple XR 100-400 and looking at pictures on the website, I finally can say a word or two about my own experience with the latest Lomography film.

    3
  • Shop News

    La Sardina and Flash + Fritz the Blitz Adaptor Pack

    La Sardina and Flash + Fritz the Blitz Adaptor Pack

    The La Sardina and Flash + Fritz the Blitz Adaptor Pack allows you to take dynamic, wide-angled flash-infused photos on the go!

  • The Magic Yet To Come: Part 5

    written by Lomography on 2014-09-06 in #news
    The Magic Yet To Come: Part 5

    Last week, I received the strangest thing through my letterbox. It was a postcard with this photograph on 1 side. The photo is of me sitting by the sea whilst I was on vacation last year. But I have literally no idea who took this shot – That’s why I came here, to ask for your help on my search for my mysterious photographer and to try and get to bottom of the riddle they wrote me. Please help me if you can!

    10
  • James Wright's So It Goes x Sri Lanka Photo Diary (Part II)

    written by Julien Matabuena on 2015-04-07 in #world #locations
    James Wright's So It Goes x Sri Lanka Photo Diary (Part II)

    In December last year James Wright, editor and creative director of So It Goes Magazine, went on a two-week trip to Sri Lanka, "a place so long on our bucket list, but up until then, as yet unvisited," he writes on the first of his three-part photo diary. Herein is the second part of his series that chronicles his adventures, highlighted by a selection of breathtaking images of the Sri Lankan countryside and the locals, among many other images, captured with his trusty photographic companions: the Leica MP, Lomo LC-A+, and an assortment of films including the LomoChrome Purple.

    1
  • Summer Hot Spots: Coronado Beach, San Diego, California

    written by gothcupcake on 2014-07-04 in #world #locations
    Summer Hot Spots: Coronado Beach, San Diego, California

    My boyfriend Scott and I took our cameras on a road trip to the beautiful Coronado Beach in San Diego, California at the very end of May to catch beach combers, surfers, and beautiful sunsets on glorious film.

    2