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Robert Giard
(July 22, 1939 - July 16, 2002) U.S.A.

Robert Giard

Photographer

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Giard had been photographing gay and lesbian writers across America for two decades; many of these portraits were published in the 1997 book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers

Although he graduated from Yale as a literature major, Bob was raised in working-class circumstances in Hartford, Connecticut. Interested in all kinds of people, he could engage in conversation with the prince as well as with the pauper. He could discuss French or American literature, foreign cinema from the 1950's and 60's, or Hollywood hunks from nearly any era, but especially from his youth, when he was most susceptible to their charms. His laugh was giddy and infectious. He had no social airs despite living in a beach community that has in the last several decades become the haunt of grasping arrivistes.

Never having gotten a driver's license, he biked around the communities of the South Fork - fashionably known as The Hamptons - doing the daily chores like shopping and picking up the mail at the local post office. He was a man who carried his equipment in a backpack, who flew to cities across America and then traveled by subway, bus, or arranged a car pickup through friends, to reach his portrait models. By the time he got to a writer's home, he had read all or much of the writer's work. He worked quietly, efficiently, putting himself and his sitter at ease. The qualities that distinguish his portraits might be summarized as honesty, rigor, directness, and empathy.

His own staunch work ethic urged him forward, not because there was a pot of gold or even fame at the end of his particular gay rainbow - alas, on this score, he might perhaps have been a little too naïve for his own good - but because the project was ever expanding and demanded his attention. He always tried to keep up with gay and lesbian writing on its many fronts, for he knew there was another generation coming up that had to be photographed.

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