Street Photography: New York Attitude


When I get a commission from the National Park Service to create a collection around a historic house or a preserved landscape, I am photographing an interior or exterior environment where rooms, furnishings, trees, and rocks are stationary.  The variables might be the lighting, the season, and the weather.  I am also a variable as I choose where to position myself.  And I can pretty much take my time making incremental adjustments to my tripod to frame the shot and to adjust other settings on the camera.

On the street, those luxuries are nonexistent.  Everything is in motion – even me.  It’s a totally different experience and challenge.  As with the park commissions, I have to engage in critical seeing.  But on the street, it’s being in a state of high alert:  constantly and critically surveying the action all around me and having my camera ready to hit that shutter reflexively.  In this case, I saw the confluence of people within the crowd and fired off a shoulder-level shot without looking through the viewfinder.

For me, it’s a very New York image.  The lady on the left and the fellow on the right are looking straight ahead somewhat dismissively.  I’ve been to small clubs where new rock bands are baptized by the cool and aloof faces of an audience waiting to be impressed.  Indeed, the tousled hair, Wayfarer sunglasses, and black T shirt give the fellow a very downtown Bohemian look that reminds me of Lou Reed or the CBGB era of New Wave and Punk rock.

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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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