September 26, 2016
Moving on up!
Street photography is such an interesting genre of photography… but the one thing it is not is so-called “professional photography,” and that is a distinction that must be remembered while trying to master this un-masterful artistic interest.
Professional photography has elements that must be met, and in my opinion it always involves these three things:
- It is in, some way, planned. Photoshoots, weddings, life events… these things do not happen by chance.
- Discretion of the final image is rarely left solely to the photographer.
- It is paid work. Not paid as in the sense that I might photograph a beautiful landscape and hope to sell it to any one or a number of businesses, entities, or individuals… but paid as in I was paid to take a certain image and those payment terms were in advance of the shutter going *click*.
A professional photographer I most certainly am not. Nor do I intend to be (anymore). I am an art enthusiast. I enjoy looking at photographs, or paintings, or drawings, or sculpture, or even graffiti (not to be confused with tagging, which is a waste of paint) and seek out what was going through the artist’s mind as he or she created the work. The only gratitude I can offer for this is to strive to find a means to return the favor with an additional piece or two of art to be added to our grand collection.
Let me tell you a little about the photograph above, because I am a little bit proud of this one.
Yesterday was such a beautiful day- perfect Autumn blue skies, the faintest breeze with brisk, dry air. Clearly, the sort of day where all important tasks must be put on hold so that I can go for a casual stroll in the city.
I took the bus into the city and as it was climbing the long circular ramp into the Port Authority bus tower on 42nd Street I caught a glimpse of this building, the small balconies extending from each apartment, and most importantly: the way the afternoon sun was pulling a shadow from each balcony that created a connection to each unit in the same manner that a fire escape does.
I believe that everybody who happened to be sitting on the left side of the bus that also happened to look out the window on such a day at about that time would say something like, “Wow- that’s neat!” What I mean is there is no difference between my eyes and yours.
But the difference is that as an artist, I have the incredible desire to take a picture of this neat scene and put it on display for those who were not sitting on the left side of the bus, on such a day, at such an hour.
Beauty is all around us. It is usually put there on purpose. I do not believe it was any mistake or luck by the architect of that nondescript apartment tower to place those balconies in such a manner along the west-facing side of that tower. He or she knew the value of a setting sun.
The only chance that exists was that I was there, with my camera. The luck was that she was there on her balcony. The human element is so important and the woman in the photograph is was sealed my whole day as a success.
The rest of my time in the city was rather frustrating as a result of a near-perfect storm scenario of subway line closures, detours, and construction. I only took this one other picture that I care to show. I was walking down 54th Street. Again, by chance. I had planned to walk down 53rd Street from 5th to 6th Avenue to get to the E train so I could head back home. I accidentally took 54th Street because I was not paying attention and came across the scene above.
Unplanned. Unprofessional. More valuable.
On the left is the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), and as an art museum- they would be remiss if they had only focussed on the art within its walls rather than to include the walls themselves. The architect used nearly seamless black glass to create a mirror image of the surroundings. To me, this is sort of humble: It seems to suggest that Art in New York City is not a singular piece of grandiose design that would be labeled as “This is art,” but instead by creating itself as a mirror- it seems to suggest “Everything is art.”
Heck, just in the mirror image I can see at least four generations of architectural style and design. That is the beauty of NYC- it continuously layers itself with the past, but rarely forgets the past by painting over it.
So anyway, these are the sort of pictures that made me fall in love with the promise of street photography and I hope you enjoy them just the same.And one last closing remark:
Life is fast. Too damn fast. Moments are fleeting. Capture them. Hold on to them. Remember them.
I saw this girl with deadpanned appearance as the subway rolled into the station. I moved down the platform a bit and stood at the ready to catch her as it departed. Luck would have it she maintained the same expression. I’ll never see this girl again, and she will never know why I found this to be a picture worth remembering. The shot is slightly blurred from motion. And it is too dark. And there are a thousand ways it could have been done better.
But I did not do any of those thousand things. And the result- this fleeting moment, is somehow so important to the genre. More on that, here.