When photographer Kent Almquist was in New York City in 1980, he encountered a street artist painting the Plaza Hotel. Intrigued, he snapped a photo of her.
Like many photographers who have snatched an image of a stranger, Almquist wondered about the identity of his subject. The photo shows the mystery painter wearing a bold, almost defiant expression as she works on a wonderful painting that also features Central Park.
Years later, Almquist posted the photo to Facebook and expressed his hope to find the woman in the photo. Fortunately, one person recognized the painter who is 94-year-old Hedy Page, a storied artist famed for her pictures of New York City.
“I took one shot and then we were standing and looking at it and we walked away,” Swedish photographer Almquist says of the photo he took over 40 years ago.
Page is a big fan of the photo, saying: “That was an amazing photograph, I said to him ‘How did he know to capture that moment? But when I got to know him I realized that’s what great photographers do, they sense the moment.”
Page explains that the painting she was working on that day in Mahattan was a commission for someone who had spent their wedding night in the Plaza Hotel.
And Page has continued to paint and has now found an online audience, livestreaming on Facebook called “Mondays with Hedy.” And it was this internet fame that helped Almquist and Page reconnect.
Last year saw the painter and photographer reunite for the first time, and Almquist recently flew in again from Sweden to hang out with his new friend. And now the tables have turned, Almquist is a character in one of Page’s paintings.
Page says that she “lives for” her painting and is currently working on a piece showing the town of Long Beach, New York where she lives now. “This painting, I only put in people I know very well,” she adds.
When photographers have been shooting for a long time, these types of photo reconnections are made possible. In 2021, PetaPixel featured British photographer Chris Porsz who tirelessly tracked down local people he photographed 40 years ago and recreated his street photos of them.
Image credits: Feature photograph by Kent Almquist