I’m not a purist. I’m fine with black and white and with color. To me, they’re all just options and which one I choose will depend on what best serves what I’m feeling about the scene being photographed.
I’m a life-long New Yorker and grew up at a time when the city was a place I wanted to escape from. It was in a dire financial crisis, it was filthy, defaced with graffiti, and crime-ridden. To this day, I still feel transported back to that time whenever I watch The French Connection starring Gene Hackman. The way that everything looks in that film – especially that dismal blue cast – is how I remember a lot of those times.
Perhaps that’s why I tend to interpret my street work in black and white. There is something about the starkness, the high contrast, and the grain that imparts a gritty and tough feel to the images that is familiar to me even though there has been a lot of improvement to life in the city since those dark days.
But some of my encounters on the street seem to cry out for color. The exuberance of these dancers was just such an occasion.
There are little compositional details that might get lost in a monochromatic image. The serenity of the blues, the royalty of the purples, and the sacred warmth of the saffron-colored robe reinforce the religious joy of the event. Even the red bokeh from the traffic lights and taillights appear like a trail of spiritual energy from the central figure’s head.
It was good to see someone in Times Square putting their hands up as a sign of joy rather than as a sign of being robbed.
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