Sunday, July 29, 2012

London/New York Street Photography

Just one of the great wonders of New York City is an abundance of museums - of all kinds (way too numerous to list). I visited the Museum of the City of New York today and viewed a special exhibit on the street photography of London. The show traces the history of 'street' in London from about 1860 to the present. Along with the London show, the museum presented photographs from its own archives to parallel the development of the genre in New York. Much of the photography shown about New York was work by the greats of the genre in this country - Gary Winograd, Ben Fernandez, Lewis Hine, etc. It was too much to absorb in just one visit, and yet I wish both parts of the show had been larger. The wonderful historic material, which deserved every inch of space it received, left little room for presentation of the current state of the genre in each of the cities. 

In 2011 the San Diego Museum of Photographic Arts (MoPA) produced a show entitled Streetwise - Masters of '60's Photography. This short video presentation will give you a taste of the dynamic change that happened in this country, and especially in New York, at that time in which street photographers played a vital role confronting our complacent society with the powerful undercurrents of turmoil that were soon to tear at the fabric of our lives and destroy our social and political innocence. 

We're faced with the same types of disparities today. Conspicuous consumption coexists with rampant homelessness, just take a stroll on Fifth or Madison Avenue and it becomes glaringly apparent. When I started shooting documentary photography in the 1980's homelessness was a relatively young phenomenon and I was drawn to the easy pathos that was up for grabs. Nowadays it's so rampant, and the homeless begging on just about every corner in Manhattan are such easy prey for taking a quick snap that it's really become tacky and trite to shoot them, unless a serious effort is made to personally engage and interact with them. 

Over the past several years I've chosen instead to focus on the other half of the equation. That too is rampant on Fifth and Madison Avenues, and because it's pretty doesn't make it any more beautiful.

This was shot on Fifth Avenue this afternoon. I titled it '..... because he's RICH!'