Street photography is challenging. It’s a specific approach to image making that can include people, typically in public places, but doesn’t have to. The photographer is on call when doing this style of shooting, to see life as it is happening moment by moment. It’s very different from setting up a portrait with a subject who knows they’re being photographed.
I visited New York Saturday to meet Orville Robertson who I hadn’t seen in decades. We considered where to meet if we were going to do ‘street photography’ and decided Washington Square Park would be active. The park which is usually popular, was filled to capacity with a Hare Krishna festival going on.
Food vendors occupied pathways leading to the center fountain which was turned on and children splashed about in the pool of water. Music and chanting sounded out loud giving energy to the atmosphere.
My own photography of people is usually assignment driven. Exploring the city with camera in hand reminded me of why I enjoy making pictures. I saw conversations taking place between people without hearing what they said. Snapping the shutter in time to facial expressions were clues to what dialogue was taking place.
I could only imagine the thoughts of those who walked or sat alone. Whatever I captured is conjecture. With this kind of photography, interpretation is always up to the viewer.
An urban landscape presents opportunity to see bits of history. Architecture is the calling card of former years. Along Bleecker Street one such gem has the ‘Mill House No 1’ impressed within the facade overhead an entrance that is boarded up. With an assist from Google I discovered the building was designed by Ernest Flagg in 1897 for Darius Ogden Mills, a banker, investor, mining and railway executive and philanthropist. Investor and architect shared a common vision – to improve the lives of those who could use help. Flagg was known to be an advocate for urban reform.
We had lunch and headed back to the park to photograph, and as we walked I started shooting, not sure exactly what I captured. I used a Sony NEX5 camera which has a flip-up window and allows me to shoot waist level using the window as my viewfinder. It is sneaky shooting – an indirect way of looking at subjects so it’s not obvious to them they are being photographed.
A woman entertained children as she transformed liquid soap into bubbles through a homemade contraption. It was a series of happy moments…simple and sweet.