I have never been good at photographing people. It has always felt very exploitive to me. A photograph becomes a story, that then creates a truth that goes beyond the reality of what was once in front of the camera. A beautiful landscape, even if taken from a view-point on a busy highway, will tell the story of nature and wilderness; a gritty night street shot, even if taken in an otherwise safe city, will convey a sense of urban danger, and a photograph of an elderly woman will tell the story of age, even though there is so much more to this stranger than her old clothes and wrinkled face.
At the same time, people and faces are one of the most interesting things to the human eye; we are evolutionarily hard-wired to recognize a face in otherwise random patterns (one of the explanations for so many Virgin Mary sightings, in everything from pancakes to laundry stains). A person in a photograph will always add visual interest, perhaps because the viewer knows that there is so much more to the story, now that it contains the image of a whole other life, all of which, except the external, remains a mystery.
One thing that has become clear to me is that to capture New York by just taking shots of the buildings, traffic, plants, and animals does not do justice to a city that thrives on the diversity, energy, and sheer numbers of its people. With that in mind, I set out today to try to capture as many people shots as I could. Some fantastic friends celebrated Easter with me, as only an urban transplant away from their family can, with chinese food. We then walked around the area, on a beautiful spring day, capturing it in photographs. In addition to working on my people-capturing skills, I was able to experience the neighborhood in a way I never had before. We were not looking for food, or groceries, or shopping, but just wandering around taking in whatever we saw. In the process however, we discovered some great places to go for groceries (if you ever want to eat crocodile feet for example), and food, and stores, which turned out to be much easier to find with the eye than a google search.
Below are some more of the people shots I captured today. I’m sure each face tells a complex and fascinating story, well beyond the scope of my pictures.