At first glance, Peter Schlesinger’s photos could be an ordinary scrapbook of someone who spent the ’70s bouncing around London, Paris, and New York. He photographed his friends with so much familiarity and so little pretension that it takes a second look to realize most of his subjects were famous. The man tucked into the backseat of a cab is, in fact, Andy Warhol; the red-haired woman seated outside a Parisian café happens to be Grace Coddington.
Having grown up in California, Schlesinger went to UCLA in 1966. Once there, he quickly hit it off with a professor: the painter David Hockney. The two moved to London, and Schlesinger fell in with the art world, spending his time with fellow photographers like Robert Mapplethorpe and Cecil Beaton. He got into fashion, too, seeing Manolo Blahnik frequently enough to capture the designer snuggled up in bed with a copy of Interview and getting his hair cut by Schlesinger’s longtime partner, Eric Boman.
Boman has, understandably, been one of Schlesinger’s most frequent subjects. He’s also the one Schlesinger captures most tenderly. Peter Schlesinger: A Photographic Memory 1968–1969, a new book of his photos with a foreword by Hilton Als, depicts their relationship so effectively that by the time you get to his image of Boman bringing an enormous basil plant in from the garden to freeze for pesto, you can already imagine the months of pasta nights that must have followed.
Click through the slideshow for a look inside Schlesinger’s visual diary, including Fran Lebowitz smirking with a poster of herself and Anna Wintour celebrating her children’s birthdays on a Long Island lawn.