From photographer Alexandra Avakian
Alexandra Boulat was one of my best friends for ten years. We spent so much time together, that it is hard to choose a moment to tell you about.
Her mother Annie put us together when my former agent, Woodfin Camp, sent me to Paris in 1988 to meet French magazine editors.
Annie was my French agent at the time. I remember the moment I first saw Alexandra. She was just starting out as a photographer back then, having left painting behind. She was standing under the high skylight in Annie's office, slim, waist-length blond hair then, simple white minidress, long, lovely legs in ballet flats.
I thought she looked like a dancer. I asked, "WHO is that?"
Only a few times in my life have I had that reaction to a person on first sight. Her energy and light were so magnetic. She took me home with her that night.
After that, I stayed with her and her cat Momo in Paris while cooling my jets between assignments around the planet. Les Deux Alexandras, as she used to call us.
She would ask me sweetly in English, "Will you watch my pictures?" I edited for her often, sitting on her red velvet couch, around which hung her paintings, working on her low, huge, chic lighttable.
We became like sisters for a lot of deep things we had in common, one of which was the influence of our fathers. And we honored each other's confidences.
As happens sometimes with friends, we slowly drifted apart, around when I got married and had a child.
Alexandra worked very hard to get where she was, at the top of her profession. She was one of the best photographers in the world. She accomplished this in a still male-dominated profession where strong, attractive women can be resented and undermined in a myriad of ways.
I want to tell you how utterly generous this woman was, how far she would go for a person she cared for. That was the thing about being in her life. She was tender, strong, vulnerable, brave. The Amazon with the gigantic heart. Alexandra deserved many decades more.
The life of a freelance photojournalist who almost never comes home is utterly lonely at times—stark, gritty wind blowing through one's head and heart as one realizes one is not in Kansas (or Paris) anymore and, oh, it can be so hard to get back.
But what a great life it is to be photographing in the world.
She knew this life for years and most importantly she gave and got great love in her time, with her family, friends and life partner.
Golden girl, I will remember you.