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Ami Bloom


Although her name was short, Ami was tall, nearly six foot one, and her achievements matched her size. She was the best photographer in her high school graduating class of 239. She snapped the majority of the photographs for the yearbook and, despite her size, got the best low shots of sporting events.

The only things small about her were her name and the teeny piercing on the left side of her nose. After high school, she attended the New York Institute of Photography and landed a position with the American Society of News Photographers. She shot conflicts in Kenya, Afghanistan, and eastern China. The field work was challenging and more than once, a bullet buzzed by her head. When in these events, she thought about the risks taken by the Bang-bang Club during the riots in South Africa in the early 1990’s and this gave her courage.

In 1998 she married Manfred Alexander Spencer-Holbrook, a 6’6” forward who had played four years at Duke. They joked that if they compromised, they could end up with one normal name. Manfred adored his wife and hated being apart when she was on assignment.

In 2004, Ami gave birth to twins: Alexandra and Spencer. The kids kept her “in country” and while she was often attached to desk working on a computer, on weekends, the family managed to travel around the city where she would hone her street photography skills. This would usually end with a picnic in Olmstead Park. By the time the kids were five years old, they were both taking pictures with digital cameras and talking to Ami about color and black and white.

She told them stories about famous photographs and showed them the pictures of Henri Cartier-Bresson, Dorothea Lange, and Annie Liebovitz. She met Liebovitz in college and the two remained friends since. They sat on the sofa and paged through books of photography and art and the twins would giggle at the nudes.

She would talk to Manny about photography and about the challenges of shooting on the street and the need to capture that “decisive moment” that Bresson so apply described. He asked her if she missed the overseas assignments and she said that although the excitement was vital, it didn’t compare to taking pictures with the kids.

In third grade the twins collaborated on a photo for school. They shared the award for the best photograph in the class. It was a picture of their mother standing on her toes to kiss their father on the nose.

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