Richard Avedon wrote of Sylvia Plachy: "She makes me laugh and she breaks my heart. She is moral. She is everything a photographer should be."

And not surprisingly, she charmed and inspired a standing-room-only crowd in San Francisco by showing some of her photos and telling the tales and jokes and sorrows behind many of them.

You can listen to excerpts from her talk in this 8-minute audio archive. And better yet, buy her latest book, Self-Portrait with Cows Going Home, where she brilliantly combines poetic memoirs and wry observations with a stunning series of images ranging over 40 years.

Sylvia Plachy is perhaps best known for weekly pictures in the Village Voice, though her photographs have appeared in over 50 major publications, including Aperture, Artforum, Metropolis, Grand Street, Granta, The New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Time, The Smithsonian and Wired. She has exhibited widely, including one-person shows at the Whitney Museum at Philip Morris, the Queens Museum, and the Minneapolis Institute of Fine Arts, as well as in Budapest, Ljubljana, Manchester, Berlin, Vancouver, Perpignan, Arles, and Pingyau, China.

Sylvia Plachy's work is in the permanent collections of MOMA, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Bibliotheque Nationale. She has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and a CAPS Grant. Her other book publications include Unguided Tour (Aperture, 1990), for which she won an International Center of Photography Infinity Award; Red Light, a book of documentary work on the sex industry (1996); and Signs and Relics (2000). A new book, Self Portrait with Cows Going Home was published by Aperture in 2004.

For details of upcoming lectures and events in San Francisco, see