Street Photography: Heat on the Street

I passed by him on Eighth Avenue, but could not get a good shot of his face until I tried again the following afternoon.

As in the other photographs I posted over the past two days, his body language conveys that characteristic weather-beaten sense of resignation and exhaustion. The slumped shoulders, the heat melting his face into a sad countenance, the spaced-out gaze.

That look in the eyes is a common denominator in all three images. I did not set out to selectively photograph people exhibiting this appearance. Indeed, I was not looking through the viewfinder as I was holding the camera chest-high and snapping the shutter improvisationally as I encountered people and tableaux that attracted my attention.

I only noticed the downward cast of the eyes after I started looking through the photographs. The fact that so many images depicted a similar expression suggests that there were a great many other people – out of my frame – who were looking and feeling the same way as they endured the stifling streets of the West Side neighborhood known as Hell’s Kitchen.

In the case of this man, maybe his eyes also imply a searching. A hope for an alternative to a job that to me seems filled with endless boredom, monotony, and futility in holding a sign that most people were ignoring, which may account for the handful of business cards he was not even bothering to give out.

Or maybe he was just hot.


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Published by Xiomáro

Nationally exhibited artist, photographer, speaker, teacher, and curator. Author of "Weir Farm National Historic Site" (Arcadia Publishing).

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