There are over seven billion people on Earth- and probably a number in the thousands are born in the time that it takes each of us to get through a single work day. I don’t have an actual stat on that statement, however; it should not be confused as the point of this article either. The point here is that a heck of a lot of people are created around the world in the time it takes us to get through a work day. So there. : ) But that is not the point of the article. . .
What is the point? Well, this is similar to discussions I have had with Matil and friends about my idea that it is important to pay attention to the wonderful flavor absolute strangers often add to our lives- that is, if we let them. So. Let. Them. !!
For me, the whole point of street photography appears to be the exact opposite of an artist’s ability to capture the absolute perfect composition, exposure, depth of field, bokeh (yawn). The purpose is to capture the raw beauty of our environment- more specifically: people. Take the image above. Yes I know there are technical errors in its form- but what is absolutely perfect is the deep emotion exhibited by the artist’s expressionless face. Given, it is a plastic mask, and this guy probably has not spent his younger years in an authentic French Mime School (?)- but just like technical accuracy not being the purpose of street photography, his background is irrelevant to the then-present situation. At that moment in time, he was a member of a choreographed mime-esque dance group and he was on a stage (subway) and he was performing his act in the hopes of being compensated poorly- just like a real mime. And another point to consider is that he hopes some stranger will acknowledge his existence just as I, one of millions of hopeful photographers, hopes you acknowledge mine. Well I can say that he has forever altered my memory of walking down the corridor towards Grand Central Station and I am very thankful for that.
I am not sure if other cities experience such regular events like this (most definitely not Atlanta), but this type of activity is damn near every subway stop in New York City! Am I the only one that sees this as grand? This is a free show- and some of the acts are damn good! The kind of good that if housed in a theater you would be proud to spend $50 for a ticket kind of good!
Who has it worse here- the homeless man with a broken past (and present) but the strength to stand in the greatest mass transit hub in the greatest city the world has ever known and simultaneously sing, play the guitar, and use a harmonica… or the young middle class girl passing through oblivious to the art being created in front of her eyes. . . if she would only look up!
Maybe we are conditioned to the notion that if we look at them, we must pay them. Well lets clear this up before the 24 hour news networks try to create some kind of tizzy: They do not wear signs demanding payment, they do not push, and they do not use hustlers. They do not have people to pick your pocket while you watch their acts, and they do not follow you until you pay. Like Van Gogh, these people hope to collect some money for offering different types of art to you- and like van Gogh, they will probably all die broke.
I can’t think of another way to say this other than to suggest that we look at what complete strangers have to offer us, and enjoy it!
Brought to you by the City so Nice they Named it Twice!