Tony Cenicola thought he was leaving behind the world of being a photo assistant to start his own studio. He had been helping a photographer move into a lower Fifth Avenue studio duplex in 1985 when its owner was struck by something: Mr. Cenicola could pack delicate cameras and gear.
Soon, Mr. Cenicola got a call from that photographer to be his assistant. He spent the next 10 years working with Saul Leiter, an important figure in the New York School. Mr. Leiter died late Tuesday night in New York City. Mr. Cenicola, who is now a staff photographer at The New York Times, recalled his time assisting — and learning from — Mr. Leiter. His conversation with David Gonzalez has been edited into a first-person narrative.