Sunday, July 26, 2009

Bow tie and back pack

Happy at last! We sat at the Boulevard Café in Bushwick having their excellent coffee and sandwiches after a ninety minute journey that should have taken thirty, due to an accident or incident that caused the police to close a half mile section of Linden Avenue.

Then, much refreshed, I spotted this young man at a bus stop as we drove along La Fayette towards
Downtown Brooklyn. I pulled in and as I approached him he seemed to know at once what I wanted. He adjusted his hat, asked where I would like him to stand and I took the photograph. He was wearing lime green pants which looked wonderful, but you couldn't see the texture and color of the bow tie so well in those shots.

Two friends under street light

Not long ago we met a couple at Botanica. They talked about their children and the father showed us a picture of his son that he kept on his iPhone. On Friday night we saw the son in real life, sitting with his mother and a friend, again at Botanica. Caroline reminded me that I had always liked taking photographs under street lights, and said that it was going to be a long time before I would see a more beautiful couple than this one. So never mind about your dinner (which had just been put before me), go and photograph them.

I hauled myself and the couple out into the street, put up my tripod and asked the girl to link arms with the boy. I was surprised when she used the arm furthest from him to do this. Occasionally a car or cyclist approached, stopped to watch for a moment, and then passed slowly on around us.

No hand to spare

The little girl was quite content clutching her father's pocket - a little high up, but you can still get a good grip. The man had lived in the same projects in Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY all his life and was happy that it was becoming safer and more prosperous every year.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Joel and Margaret

Joel is an English language teacher and riding instructor. He is holding the leading rain attached to his pupil's horse, Margaret, a retired Belgium draft horse, who used to pull tourists around Central Park in her working days.

Unknown man with cigarette

As we approached the lights at 8th Avenue and 9th Street in Park Slope, a man weaved around behind our car and appeared beside us. I lowered the window and said I would like to take his photograph. With that he took out a cigarette from the pack he was holding. Caroline likes to smoke once in a while so I took it for her.

"Do you want a light too?" he asked.

"No," Caroline said, "I'm going to keep it for later, thank you."

"What I actually wanted was to take your picture." I said as the light turned green and I had to move. "I'll pull up over there," He followed us.

I took the photograph and he said he had lived in Brooklyn all his life. I then asked him what he did and he replied, "I live, in Brooklyn." I don't think he was hard of hearing, just his way of not wanting to tell me anything.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Boy pushing a barrow

In 1964 I roamed the streets of London looking for life going on. Late one Saturday afternoon in World's End, Chelsea, a boy passed me running down the street pushing a barrow. I missed the photograph and asked him if he would push it past me again. This he did. I took the picture to the Times who published it on their Saturday back page. At that time they devoted half the back page to a photograph. Just a photograph for the hell of it. It could have been of anything, taken anywhere. In about 2000 a woman living in Alberta, Canada, rang and asked if she could have a copy of this picture. Her copy, which was torn from the newspaper, had almost disintegrated. She told me that she had met, and fallen in love with this boy, when he was in his early twenties. She was no longer with him but she had a great attachment to his memory and the photograph.

Anxious moment

Forty five years later I roamed the streets of Red Hook, Brooklyn, New York and found the Botanica, where Caroline and I have had, over the last three months, the best time drinking coffee and Pisco Sours.

Late one afternoon, when Caroline had gone to Fairways, I moved seats to be nearer to this couple who looked promising. She laid her hand on his clasped hands but he made no move to touch back. Perhaps that is why her expression is a look of such uncertainty. The woman in the background, seems just to want to talk.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

What are these two smiling about?

July 4th, Graham Avenue, Bushwick, Brooklyn, NY, midday or thereabouts - we are on our way to Goodbye Blue Monday. Saw these two on the sidewalk - no traffic to speak of - pulled in - leaped out and up the street after them. Delighted they said. And here they are. But wait - she is twenty-one years old and he is eighteen, and, she told us proudly, she is his great aunt. Work that out! Then his brother turned up. See below.

Couple each with bags and beads

They past us as we were walking back to where we had parked the car. I hesitated for a moment as I did not see them clearly, just that they both wore necklaces. But I ran after them down one of Clinton Hill's streets of four story brownstones where the trees grow as high as the houses. I told them that their style had caught my eye and that I would like to photograph them. The young man said that there were a lot of bad photographers roaming the streets taking photographs of people that landed up on the internet, which he did not want. I always understand when people are suspicious or cautious of what they are getting into. Caroline produced some of my work (she carries 4 x 6" cards for just these occasions). We talked a bit more about my work and I saw that they were both standing in like poses. I pointed this out to them and said I had to take them like that and they agreed.

Adam the gardener

I was thinking recently who could play Raskolnikov. Twenty year-old actors today are too chubby. Adam is too old but he has the intelligence, and the leanness.

I wanted to take him and the girl he was with but she disappeared as we spoke. He tried to retrieve her from the store opposite but she would not be taken away from her shopping. Adam is a gardener and loves borage, as do we. He also dislikes (as do we) Beacon, NY, where he lived for a while but screamed for some genuine urban life and interesting people. So he is back in Bushwick doing lots of people's containers and gardens in Park Slope and around.

He has promised to come and see us in our Garrison haven of greenery and un-urbanness. Hope he does.

Carly and friend relaxing

Carly and a friend having a smoke outside Goodbye Blue Monday. She is almost unrecognizable from the picture I took of her inside the club two weeks earlier. What is it? The clothes, lighting, mood...? We heard The Steve Pardo band with Lindley Cameron playing something swingy and lilting.

Ready for the camera

I was just through with photographing great-aunt with great-nephew when his brother turns up and wants to be in it. Fine, but it doesn't work very well. He, though, is terrific, and I do him alone. With the speed of a runway model changing into the next outfit, out of the blue he finds and carefully adjusts his hat, pulls up his under pants and wriggles down his jeans and stands their ready for me.