Thursday, May 28, 2009

I Return to Photography

Vanderbilt Avenue, 2003

Photography became my medium of choice during high school in the late 1960s. I transitioned quickly from an old Brownie to an Instamatic to a Polaroid to a used manual Kodak to, finally, a brand new Nikkormat SLR ($269 1968 dollars, including 50mm lens). During those years I shot miles of Tri-X film, which could be purchased inexpensively in bulk and developed in either the school darkroom or the bathroom of our apartment.

As college, career and family occupied more of my time, photography fell aside. When I returned to photography in 2002, black-and-white film prices had skyrocketed. Color was the new norm. Digital was the new thing. And who wanted to mess with chemicals when you could have greater versatility in processing on the computer? This is one of the first images I took with an early point-and-click digital camera and liked. The scene is the southwest corner outside Grand Central Terminal in New York. We see the hustle and bustle of street life.

Unlike tourists, New Yorkers don't linger around Grand Central. They go about their business. The man in the foreground is purposely out of focus (though I didn't intend the crown of his head to be so blown out) to highlight his motion and let us know that there's more story to this picture than just him. His tussled hair, the profile of his face and his coat, though, tell us that he's probably not a tycoon, just a working man. He could be our father, our brother, our friend, our co-worker.

I like the way the curve of the corner entrance of Grand Central leads the eye into this photograph and down Vanderbilt Avenue.

I'm naturally shy when it comes to photographing people. This represented an attempt, however feeble, to get "close."


  1. Having seen a lot of your photos by now, I'd say you've gotten a lot braver about photographing people, but this is great. I love the curve of the entryway here. Your building photos are always great.

    I like hearing what your thought process was in setting up the image. I always enjoy hearing what writers were thinking when they discuss books they wrote, and I'm the kind of nerd who always wants to see the special features on movie DVD's so I can hear all the behind the scene thinking that went into the movie-making itself.

  2. ps
    When I say you've gotten braver over time, I'm remembering in particular a few of your flickr photos of tourists in the Big City and some of your titles from a while back. I was laughing out loud at a few of them, they were so dead-on.