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Ten Minutes with Lisl Steiner

Photojournalist and documentarian



Sally Semonite Green

Lisl Steiner signs off her emails with “photojournalist, documentarian, kuratorin, valkyrie, energie spendende, chronicler in residence at Caramoor 1961-2013/Argentine fine arts academician in USA.” That alone inspires a deeper look into this 87-year-old Pound Ridge resident’s fascinating life as a freelance photojournalist for the likes of Time, Life, and Newsweek. She sat down with Bedford Magazine and proceeded to captivate us (as usual) for more than the alotted 10 minutes, but here are some highlights.

Which of the words above best describes you?   We live in a society where titles are important, so when someone calls me something nice, like “goddess,” I may decide to incorporate it in my curriculum. I was told I transmit energy when I talk to people, so I am an “energie spendende,” and I also enjoyed being called a valkyrie. However, I would primarily consider myself a photojournalist.

How would you describe your photojournalistic style?   I’m very proud that I have not learned anything in my photography. I have managed not to know anything in 64 years; it’s the truth. I photograph with my guts, and then, after the picture is there, I use a little of the poor mind I have, to analyze it, throw it out, or keep it.

Where did you grow up?   I grew up in Vienna, and in 1938 at age 11, was exported to Argentina with my parents. I studied art and worked in the film industry, and in 1955, during a revolution, decided to become a photojournalist. General Pedro Eugenio Aramburu took charge, and I somehow inherited the title “Photographer of the President,” which was not true, I was just freelancing. I photographed him fishing in Usuahia, and the American public thought that the General fishing was wonderful, and my first photograph ended up in both Time and Life.

You’ve photographed high-profile personalities—Nixon, Pelé, Eisenhower—as well as everyday people. What is your favorite subject?   I have always liked dictators. In the presence of dictators, I always enjoyed to tell them “sit down, get up, go to the left, go to the right.” It was a major pleasure. I followed Fidel Castro everywhere, and dictated to him how he needed to be photographed.

Do you have any other passions?   Yes, lately I have two. Although Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, he was most fond of elocution. Most people mumble, and I have been battling that. Children need to learn how to speak and how to properly handshake! My second passion is that I am on my way to becoming a torch singer. In the ’20s, Marlene Dietrich sang wonderful songs with double-entendres, which I now sing in my car. Marlene is my backup; she sings softly, and me, just a bit louder.

Any other wisdom to impart?   I think that most important is probably to be humble. All the great people I have known have been very humble. Humble is a good word, a good thing, and I am working on being humblier. Is that a word?

After traveling three-fourths of the world, will you remain in Pound Ridge?  Yes, I have been a resident here for a very short time, just 40 years. From here, I either go up or down, we don’t know yet my next destination.

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September 2018

Take a one-hour guided tour of the historic Lyndhurst mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The Gothic Revival mansion has been used as a movie set for six major motion pictures...

Cost: $18

Where:
Lyndhurst
635 S. Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Kykuit, a hilltop paradise, is now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Read our review of...

Cost: $25

Where:
Kykuit
381 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
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More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Take a one-hour guided tour of the historic Lyndhurst mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The Gothic Revival mansion has been used as a movie set for six major motion pictures...

Cost: $18

Where:
Lyndhurst
635 S. Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Kykuit, a hilltop paradise, is now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Read our review of...

Cost: $25

Where:
Kykuit
381 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Come sing with Westchester’s highly acclaimed community chorus, Hudson Chorale. The group is welcoming new members in all voice parts (SATB) to join them for an exciting concert season that...

Cost: Free to audition

Where:
Pleasantville Presbyterian Church
400 Bedford Rd
Pleasantville, NY  10570
View map »


Sponsor: Hudson Chorale
Telephone: 914-478-0074
Contact Name: Jeanne Wygant
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Take a one-hour guided tour of the historic Lyndhurst mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The Gothic Revival mansion has been used as a movie set for six major motion pictures...

Cost: $18

Where:
Lyndhurst
635 S. Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Kykuit, a hilltop paradise, is now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Read our review of...

Cost: $25

Where:
Kykuit
381 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Join us as we tee off to create a brighter future for children in need at the 2018 Save the Children Golf Classic presented by PVH Corp. This year at Saint Andrews Golf Club in Hastings, NY...

Cost: $1,000 per person

Where:
Saint Andrew’s Golf Club
10 Old Jackson Ave
Hastings on Hudson, NY
View map »


Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Take a one-hour guided tour of the historic Lyndhurst mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The Gothic Revival mansion has been used as a movie set for six major motion pictures...

Cost: $18

Where:
Lyndhurst
635 S. Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Kykuit, a hilltop paradise, is now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Read our review of...

Cost: $25

Where:
Kykuit
381 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Take a one-hour guided tour of the historic Lyndhurst mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The Gothic Revival mansion has been used as a movie set for six major motion pictures...

Cost: $18

Where:
Lyndhurst
635 S. Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Kykuit, a hilltop paradise, is now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Read our review of...

Cost: $25

Where:
Kykuit
381 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Take a one-hour guided tour of the historic Lyndhurst mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The Gothic Revival mansion has been used as a movie set for six major motion pictures...

Cost: $18

Where:
Lyndhurst
635 S. Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Kykuit, a hilltop paradise, is now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Read our review of...

Cost: $25

Where:
Kykuit
381 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Copland House at Merestead opens it's season with a glittering, intimate journey into the life of the charismatic  conductor and composer, and a sold-out smash at its Lincoln  Center...

Cost: $25

Where:
Copland House at Merestead
455 Byram Lake Road
Mount Kisco, NY  10549
View map »


Sponsor: Copland House
Telephone: 914-788-4659
Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The 58th annual Lewisboro Library Fair is Saturday, September 22 from 10 am to 4 pm at Onatru Farm Town Park (99 Elmwood Road in South Salem). The Fair features huge Book, “Attic Treasures”...

Cost: free

Where:
Onatru Farm Town Park
99 Elmwood Road
South Salem, NY  10590
View map »


Sponsor: Lewisboro Library
Telephone: 914-875-9004
Contact Name: Liz Gabriele
Website »

More information

Legendary journalist Lesley Stahl will lead a special one-on-one event with former sex-crimes prosecutor turned BEST – SELLING crime novelist, Linda Fairstein. From the unsolved cases that keep...

Cost: $40

Where:
Bedford Playhouse
633 Old Post Rd.
Bedford, NY  10506
View map »


Telephone: 914-234-6704
Website »

More information

Take a one-hour guided tour of the historic Lyndhurst mansion overlooking the Hudson River. The Gothic Revival mansion has been used as a movie set for six major motion pictures...

Cost: $18

Where:
Lyndhurst
635 S. Broadway
Tarrytown, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

Kykuit, a hilltop paradise, is now a historic site of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, was home to four generations of the Rockefeller family. Read our review of...

Cost: $25

Where:
Kykuit
381 N. Broadway
Sleepy Hollow, NY  10591
View map »


Website »

More information

On August 18, 2018, the Bruce Museum will open A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. This exhibition will trace the history of the Navajo weaving tradition from the earliest...

Where:
Bruce Museum
1 Museum Dr
Greenwich, CT  06830
View map »


Sponsor: Bruce Museum
Telephone: 203-413-6735
Contact Name: Scott Smith
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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