When I realized this weekend that I was loading my 50th* roll of film of 2011 I thought I should try something different with that roll. I decided to concentrate on taking pictures of people in the street. This isn't something I'm new at or something I never do, but that's not why I'm out there taking pictures. I like to record the faces of the city itself - its buildings, signs, store fronts, random weirdness, and whatever strikes me. Sometimes that's people, but usually not. I'm usually more interested in inanimate objects. But the people of NYC, both those who live here and those who visit, are a part of what makes New York The City. I am fascinated by them. You never know what you'll see here and you can never be prepared for it. With this roll of 36 shots I tried to capture people as they go about their business. These are not stealthy "from the hip shots." These are me seeing something, raising the viewfinder to my eye, focusing, and pressing the shutter. Of course since I was shooting in a hurry, some of the shots came out blurry. About half of the roll was shots not of people (I still couldn't resist taking pictures of things while I was out and about). Here are 13 shots from this 50th roll that feature people as the subject.
All images shot with Nikon F3 and Nikkor 50mm f1.4 Ai lens on Kodak Tri-X 400 film exposed and developed at 1250 ISO in Kodak Xtol developer for 8.5 minutes.
My first stop was the East Village as I was about 15 minutes early meeting Kate. I used those 15 minutes to take pictures of people.
A crowd of people at a busy East Village crosswalk
People waiting on french fries at Pommes Frites in the East Village
As I was about to snap this picture, I noticed the guy glaring at me. I snapped it anyway and smiled as I lowered the camera. I don't really care what people think if I'm taking pictures on the street. They are in public. I have a camera. I'm not being sneaky. I'm recording life as I see it. I never glare or flinch when someone takes our picture (for some reason that happens a LOT).
Man and woman ordering at Ray's Candy Store in the East Village
Haggard Washington Redskins fan walking on St. Marks in East Village
As I was walking down St. Marks, I noticed this guy careening toward me. He looked pretty out of control, so I prefocused and raised the camera for a shot. I do have some qualms about photographing people who are homeless or mentally ill. There's a part of me that feels like I'm taking advantage of them if I take their picture, so most of the time I don't. But as you can see, sometimes I do.
Man and boston terrier ordering at Deli in East Village
I was kind of hurried here and didn't take the time to make sure the dog's feet were in the picture.
Couple walking by graffiti in East Village
I love this type of shot (the person walking by an interesting wall shot). I take a lot of these and it's normally more about the wall than the person. The people are just decoration. This one is probably cheating and not really of people.
People in front of Moishe's in East Village
This is one of the many storefronts that I love in the East Village, but I only stopped to take the picture because of the people in front of it.
Man on Scooter in the East Village
Man out front of building in Nolita
Now, we're west of the East Village in Nolita. I had met Kate and she was inside the vintage clothing store Ina shopping. As I stood out front waiting for her, I couldn't take my eyes off of this guy who was kind of leaning backwards. I liked this image because he was leaning the opposite direction that the tree was. This would have been better without the other guy in the background, but there were a lot of people walking and I didn't know how long the older gentleman would be leaning back like that.
Woman watching Men arguing in Union Square
This type of shot is not recommended. Usually if people are fighting in the street, it's a good idea to just ignore it and walk faster. But as I approached them, I thought that the woman holding the umbrella watching them provided a nice framing device for their confrontation. I pre-focused for distance and hoped the aperture and shutter speed were correct; I did not have time to adjust them as I wanted to keep walking. It's a little underexposed and dark, but it still works.
Men unloading truck in Union Square
Woman resting and woman walking in Gramercy Park
I saw this woman sit down by the garage door and she looked so tired. At the same time I noticed another woman walking towards her and thought the two together would make a good contrast.
Man in cape walking at night in the financial district
I had the camera in my coat pocket as I walked to the grocery store and this guy in front of me had an enormous cape. This was the last shot of the roll.
*50 rolls of film seems like a lot, but really it's only 1800 pictures. In the past if I was shooting digital for a day, I would often come home with 300 pictures on my memory card - just from that day. I like that film slows me down a little. It's rare for me to take more than 15-20 pictures on a weekday and maybe just a little more if it's the weekend.