Saturday, April 20, 2013

A Bite of the Apple

Sometimes I just like to have a little fun with my shots. I was in Manhattan on Thursday and went with a friend to sit outside the Apple Store on 59th & Fifth. And there in the Big Apple, with the Apple logo (with the bite indentation) in the background I saw this guy's big toothless grin. I couldn't help myself. By the way, the term 'Big Apple' was first used, and has lived on since, with regard to New York having a big presence in horse racing.

Anyone who has ridden on the New York subways is all too familiar with the sounds of all kinds of music and pseudo-music being played by panhandlers in the stations, on the platforms, and in the subway cars. It's most often loud and overbearing - it would have to be to compete with the loud rumbles of the trains. For the most part I find it all obnoxious. But on this last trip into New York, on the New Jersey Transit train into Penn Station, I heard the faint sound of what seemed like distant trumpet riffs of the melody to 'My Funny Valentine'.  Sounded like early Miles Davis. I turned around and looked down into the vestibule of the car, and there was a gentleman with a pocket trumpet and mute working his way through some charts. 

As I said, when I was on the street I was walking with a friend, and I usually don't take many pics when I'm with someone, and those I do take often don't have the presence of what I was trying to capture in the first place. It takes concentration and (pardon the pun) focus. I got this shot to add to my recently started set of images of smokers with smoke drifting out of them.

 And the expression on this woman's face wrote it's caption for me. You make up your own.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Professional Photographer

Much has been written about the Boston Marathon bombing, and I thought this article which appeared on the Chicago Tribune blogsite, written by Alex Garcia, was quite to the point regarding the photographing of events. Rather than reiterate the germane points made my Mr. Garcia, I encourage you to click on the link and read his blog post. After you've read it, think about the specific points he makes and how they apply to photographing whatever your subject happens to be. One of my friends has an adage he throws at me whenever I talk to him about facing difficulty, no matter what the situation: run towards the canons!

I seem to be drawn lately to the challenge of capturing smoke and making it a strong element in some of my images, this afternoon walking across 14th street was no exception. To wit, two images of smokers - one with smoke, one without. Both with an attitude that begged for a picture.

And two other images, one from recently:

And the last from this past December:

Monday, April 15, 2013

Spot-On Tie .... Dude

Sometimes it's the littlest things you notice as a photographer that make shooting street so much fun!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Photographing People on the Street

I would like to address an article written recently by blogger Adam Marelli, found here, addressing the issue of photographing people (in particular - strangers) who are in a public space.  There are a number of schools of thought on this issue, and Adam Marelli's has validity. I don't agree with him completely. What he suggests is not by any means a new idea. It's been around and written about since cameras were portable - I think that's ummmm..... The Civil War. I often engage my subjects in conversation when photographing them, but I also at times want to NOT intrude upon the spontaneity of the moment, or perhaps my intention is to capture specifically their reaction to me taking their picture (a la Bruce Gilden). I don't recommend using a long lens to shoot street, but not for reasons of surrepticity. Rather because using a wide lens creates much more a feeling of presence, and allows for more of a sense of place. Marelli offers the practice of 'hip' shooting as a foolish idea practiced by perverts or creeps. I often shoot from the hip for several reasons: it creates a totally different perspective, when I shoot on the street there's often not enough time to get the camera into position at my eye when a scene unfolds before me, and it's much less intrusive to the moment. Marelli is certainly entitled to shoot the way he wants, but to suggest that those who chose to do it differently are jerks is just immature and narrow minded. He sounds like a petulant child who insists that everyone must be or act the way he says.

My style of shooting actually demands that I use these techniques some of the time. I don't do it to display people as a 'piece of meat', rather it's to respect and not intrude upon their moments of introspection and at the same time present an image of a person deep within himself while in a disinterested and oblivious crowd of shoppers and other pedestrians. How else is it possible to portray a person's isolation and sadness in our sterile, disinterested, materialistic society. Are we to deny these feelings exist? If my image touches a viewer and/or helps him to identify with the subject and in so doing bring him to a place of feeling less isolated, then my purpose has been successful. 

The style of shooting I choose at times may by some be considered confrontational, that's just my photojournalistic training that comes out naturally. And if it serves to generate an image of haughtiness or condescension that I have picked up on and that attracted me to the image, then my intention to portray the person as I intuitively perceived them has been realized. I don't do it out of disrespect for the person or for sensationalism, I do it because it's a slice of real life, of real people who surround us daily and with whom we must cope and coexist.