The Paradise of New York Street Photography

October 17, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

Shoeshine, 42nd StreetEverything was cool here until I opened my big mouth. Just take pictures until they eat you, which hasn't ever happened.

I have been plugging away at street photography in San Francisco for a long time. Over the decades I have seen a growing lack of intolerance, and even outright indignation, if you should "intrude" and dare take a persons photograph in public. It's now become a game of "not getting caught" more than just being bold and confident. God help the street photographer who snaps away with a small discrete shooters camera, much less anyone with a prime camera and prime optics. Without getting into all the variety of reactions a photographer gets taking street pictures in cold techie self absorbed San Francisco, here's what you get in New York.

Nothing.

No reaction.

OK, a few smiles.

Very Cool.

I'm not a fan of secretly taking street photos. They very often look like "stolen moments" not "frozen moments". My best photos, and the one most guaranteed to get pleasing results from, are acquired by simply bring the camera up, aiming directly, and pressing the shutter. That is not so simple in San Francisco, but in New York the art of street photography is SO ACCEPTED, and so MAINSTREAM, that I quickly dispensed with trying to hide what I was doing.

So much so in fact that on my next visit I'll just shoot with my Canon 5D MK3's and leave the rangefinders and mirrorless stuff at home.

This photograph is a prime example. I started working the shoeshine stand. Feeling sneaky and uncomfortable, and not at all confident I was obtaining anything "honest", I moved in tight and worked about 180 degrees around before I blew it and, instead of just shooting away, inquired if they minded me photographing. That broke the spell. It's New York. Everyone photographs. Rather than helping it simply removed all the spontaneity from the following images.

The lesson is: Photograph. Keep photographing. Talking generally opens up an avenue for conversation, not photographing. Act professional. Don't be sneaky. Photograph. Get what you can. 360 degrees.

Have a business card ready. Jam it to them if you think it's appropriate. Always send them jpegs "when and if" they email you.

Street photographer. Screw San Francisco, head to New York. New Yorkers are flattered when you photograph them. They love all forms of photography, and get a rush a "real photographer" takes their picture. So dump the small cameras. Bring your prime glass. Enjoy.


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Representation
 

ZUMA Press International

(Partnered with Corbis Images)

Publications:

 

Blue in Black and White Turner Publishing, 1999

 

Permanent Exhibits:

 

A Collection of 100 Black & White Prints on Permanent Display
 

Hall of Justice, 4th Floor
 

850 Bryant Street, San Francisco
 

Police Headquarters Building
 

1245 3rd Street, San Francisco
 

 

Staff Photographer

 

San Francisco Police Officer’s Association

1988-1999

 

Contributing Photographer

 

San Francisco Police Department Media Relations & Public Affairs 1990-2013
 

 

San Francisco Police Department Video Production Unit
 

 

Education:

San Jose State

Photography

1977-1982

 

Shows

 

“Behind the Badge”, Harvey Milk Photo Center

2011

Harvey Milk Photo Exhibit Summer

2012

“Off the Beaten Path”, Photo Exhibit, Sharon Arts Center, San Francisco

2012

“Open Show” Apple San Francisco

May 2013

"In The Moment" Photo Exhibit, Harvey Milk Photo Center

July - September 2013

 

 

Email me at pete@tmaxphoto.com if you want to connect.

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