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New York City Street Photography: A Retrospective – Part 1

NYC Street Photography

I lived in New York City for 5 years and in that time I picked up photography. I wasn’t really sure why I moved to NYC when I did, I just felt it was the right thing to do. I had just finished art school and New York just seemed like the right place to be for a young artist. Well, I ended up working at two different camera shops and because I wanted to be good at my job I eventually picked up a camera.

Location: Various  (Williamsburg, Coney Island, Brooklyn, Union Square, Times Square, Manhattan)
Camera: Nikon D100
Lenses: Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D
(This was all the gear I had for my first year of photography and I only processed my images in black and white. I felt I wasn’t yet ready for color. This was a throwback to my art school days where we forced to start out in black and white and couldn’t move on to color until year 2.)

Any and all street photography I ever did is from my first year as a photographer. I was so excited to have a camera and knew that architecture and nature weren’t my thing. As a traditional artist my favorite subjects tended to be people and more specifically portraits. Well, NYC has a ton of people so all I had to do was step out and photograph. I would go out every weekend and just walk wherever the city took me. I still remember my longest day where I walked 11 miles all through Manhattan and took a good 600+ images of people. A lot of them sucked, but occasionally I would get lucky. I learned a lot from failing though and I think that the experience is invaluable.

This first shot has always been my favorite shot I took on the street. I was actually with the 2nd model I’d ever worked with and I still wasn’t out of my street photography mode, I saw this lovely young lady and snapped this shot. I love everything about this shot. I love her eyes, that expression, the pose, the cigarette and the American Flag as a backdrop. (NOTE – It only took 4 years but I finally identified the lady below as Coney Island performer Betty Bloomerz. Her bio says, which I believe to be true, “SHE WILL CUT YOU with her icey blue eyes.” She even does it in black and white.)

NYC Street Photography

NYC Street Photography
This young lady took a look at me just as I snapped the picture and seems genuinely delighted to see me. My favorite part though has always been the arm that comes up and perfectly frames her.
NYC Street Photography

NYC Street Photography
This one is kind of special to me because I’m in the reflection of her glasses. It’s a bit of a self portrait in that way.
NYC Street Photography

NYC Street Photography

NYC Street Photography
People tend to love this image and I never really understood why until I thought about it. I feel like when I look at this picture I can smell the amalgamation of food and smoke.

If you can smell the street by looking at the photo, it’s a street photograph – Bruce Gilden

NYC Street Photography

NYC Street Photography

NYC Street Photography

NYC Street Photography

NYC Street Photography
As I got better at photography it would bother me that the person in this image was out of focus. But now, I think it injects a strong narrative into this image and I love that.
NYC Street Photography

Stay tuned for part 2!

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