Bruce Katsiff in the studio
Born in Philadelphia where he attended Central High School, Bruce Katsiff went on to study photography at Rochester Institute of Technology and completed graduate work at Pratt Institute, earning BFA and MFA degrees. He also attended postgraduate studies at Oxford University. His work has been exhibited in museums and galleries including the Museum of Modern Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. For 25 years, he taught photography and from 1989-2012 served as Director/CEO of the James A. Michener Art Museum.
In the fall of 1968, my pregnant wife, Jo, and I rented a small house adjacent to the Delaware Canal and River in the Rip Van Winkle village of Lumberville, Pennsylvania. We were both big-city kids with little knowledge of life in a rural village. I had just begun my first post-college job, teaching photography and art in a local community college. In late December of that same year, our son, Timothy, was born, and the three of us began our lives as a young family now settled into our new community in the Bucks County countryside.
In early 1970 I began to photograph residents of Lumberville and the surrounding river towns of Point Pleasant, Center Bridge, Stockton, Lambertville, and New Hope. With the town general store and post office as the community center, it was easy to meet neighbors and gain access to their homes for portraits. Working in black and white, mainly with a 4-by-5 view camera on a tripod, I spent the next ten years documenting my friends and neighbors who lived along the river. The community was populated by a diverse group of souls ranging from old-timers who had spent many generations living in the village to city folks who had recently escaped the urban jungle to plant gardens and watch the river flow.
With the distance of more than forty years, I revisited these negatives and selected the best images to present the community in portraits. I am indebted to Jeff Marshall for his skillfully researched history of the region and to Liz Sheehan for her thoughtful essay about love, life, loss, work, and leisure. In 2007, after thirty-eight years, my wife and I moved out of the village and have recently returned to city life. We treasure our time spent living in Lumberville and hope you will find interest in exploring the portraits of these river-town folks.