Thursday, April 11, 2013

New York Faces - More Than A Catalog

I've been giving a lot of thought lately as to what it is that I shoot, why I shoot it, what I'm trying to say with it ....  Questions that were prompted by a column I read recently (I don't remember where) that was a discussion about the substance of photography books. The point of the column was that a book of photographs should be more than just a random collection of images, or a catalog of images shot by a particular photographer. The work set in the format of a book needs to say something as a unified body of work that justifies being presented as a book. That's not to say there's anything wrong with putting a bunch of photographs taken on vacation into self published book, and sharing it with friends and such. That's a perfectly legitimate reason to produce a personal book for personal use. I'm thinking in grander terms.

When I look at the broad perspective of my work shot during the past several years I see a pattern and a direction, and as that grows so too does my processing of the photographs to focus on the content of the images. The two work together .... I think. I'm having some difficulty in verbalizing the ideas, in making a literal statement. But it's coming along. When the concepts become crystalized, I'll be able to say what I need to in a clear concise way. For now I'm feeling my way, and it's a trip that's like no other - figuratively and literally (wink, wink) - I've ever taken before.

All I can say of it at this point is .... New York Faces.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

On 34th Street

On Monday I attended a talk by documentary photographer Natan Dvir which was presented at B&H Photo in Manhattan. I was initially attracted to his work because I had seen on the internet a series of his images entitled 'Coming Soon' which is a collection now on exhibit at the Anastasia Photo gallery in Manhattan.

The weather was really wonderful that day, so after the talk I found a spot on West 34th Street to sit and enjoy the people parade. It's a street I walk quite a bit, but usually from Penn Station enroute to somewhere, or to Penn Station to catch a train home, so I never really spend much time there to take photos. There were quite a number of photographers in the area, probably because of the proximity of the B&H superstore. I chatted with several of them, including this gentleman who was shooting with a Nikon film camera.

I stood at the corner of 34th Street and Seventh Avenue for a time, and noticed this woman standing just next to me. She stood there for several cycles of changes in the traffic signals, so she wasn't waiting to cross the street. She was trying to look nonchalant and uninterested that I was taking photos at the corner. I think she was posing for me, hmmm .........

Then, when I turned to head to Penn Station this gentleman started babbling some unintelligible stuff directly at me and posed for this shot. Sometimes I walk the streets and can't find a decent shot, or when I do people curse and sneer at me. Somedays people knock each other over for a chance to get in front of the camera ....

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Everybody Is Happy .... Well, Almost

On Saturday I took a walk through Lower Manhattan - across Canal Street, up through Little Italy and SoHo. It was a cool early spring day, the sun was brilliant, not a cloud in the sky, people were happy. For the past few weeks I spent a lot of my photo-walking time in the midtown/east side area and this Saturday as I walked through the crowds I was struck by the difference in the overall attitude of the area residents. They were happy, smiling people going about their daily routines of dog walking and food shopping, taking care of life's necessities. The uptown crowd seemed different - there were scowling, frowning faces of people going about their daily routines of running from one business deal to another, getting to Berdorff, Versace, Prada, Tiffany, or Cartier to pick up what they needed to make it through the day.

On Saturday I changed my shooting routine a bit. After I grabbed a few shots, I chatted with some of the people. It was fun and diffused some potentially intense moments. And I got a bit of insight about the people. The more I do this and grow with the process, the more I enjoy it. Life is good.

Well, not everyone was happy with me ....