Timmy

Timmy

This is Timmy. I met him in front of a church, somewhere near 38th st. and Park Ave. I don’t have a clue what the church is called. I remembered this church from a photo I took a long time ago with a plastic toy 35mm camera. It was of a statue of Jesus with vines climbing dramatically up the wall behind it. The statue is behind bars that I can squeeze my shot through and I took the same exact shot I did last time. I looked at the preview of it on my LCD….and…it was really boring…why did I do that? I have no idea. But then as I’m standing there puzzled by myself, this guy calls out to me. “Hey you know you can help yourself right in.” I respond, “No I’m alright, I’m not too into it.”
He looks at the camera in my hand and says, “You want to take a picture of me?”
“Really? Actually I would love that, thank you!”
*snap**snap*snap*
I shuffle through my pockets and fish out two dollars for him. He kindly accepts it and starts to explain to me that he is an Iraq Veteran. Standing up he reaches in his back pocket for his wallet and shows me this Veteran card of some sort. I don’t have a clue if it’s authentic but by the looks of the inside of his wallet it seems like his life might be a bit chaotic or maybe just not very organized. It was filled with numbers, notes, cards, scraps, pictures, but no money. He starts to explain to me that he recently was diagnosed with prostate cancer. The doctor also said that his liver can’t survive another drop of alcohol. A scar in his liver is in need of a biopsy and he can get that looked at if he can get up north to a different shelter. He needs $20 to move his stuff from his current shelter to the new one.
I saw an honest man but wasn’t sure. There’s no way of being sure. But I thought I saw an honest man. Why? I don’t know…. His clothes were clean and warm winter sportswear. He has a cellphone “they” gave him. (What organization “they” is, I have no idea) Maybe I saw that he is accepting help. That he is SEEKING help.  That’s a bold step for people facing addiction to have to take. To face yourself and accept the fact that you are an addict and you need help.

I walk him to his shelter which is only blocks away. I hand him a twenty and a hug goodbye. He asks for my number and writes it down on a sliver of paper and shoves it into his wallet filled with more slivers of papers. ” My EBT will kick back in next week, so I’ll pay you back then.” Surprised I said, ” Sure, no problem!” I didn’t want to tell him to keep it. I wanted him to feel like a part of society. I wanted to give him the chance to prove himself.
Later that night I get a call from him. He tells me that he’s arrived and settled into this new shelter. I can hear his excitement. “I’m goin’ to see a doctor in the morning to start chemo and get them pills for the voices, ya know….those voices are somethin’ else. They give the same stuff to alzheimer’s folks.”
“Yeah Tim, we have to make sure not to listen to those voices when they say things. I’m glad you got an appointment quickly!”
He promises me that he will repay me with lunch in the future.
“I can never pass up a free meal.”

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Prelude

Prelude

Recently my Ipod a friend gave me broke and I’ve been without portable music for a bit now. Actually, I don’t mind it so much. It’s hard to be in tune with your surroundings when you are in your own musical moment.

I can hear a cello echoing through the underground hallway. It’s humming the prelude to the first cello suite by Bach. It’s a classic piece that most will be able to recognize. The sound is staggered by the constant bustling of people as I approach, until this man finally reveals himself. He is completely in the notes. He is immersed in it. His eyes are closed and he becomes the classic piece. It’s easy to photograph someone who is in the moment. They are not concerned with the outside. They are in tune within.
I dropped a dollar in his hat. He doesn’t even notice. He just plays on over the loud man nearby preaching about Jesus.
This hallway is the underground connection between time square and port authority on 40th st. Some locals and commuters call this the Jesus Walk. By the time you get to either side, you might be holding a pamphlet about the watchtower. You were probably yelled at by a loud man with a bible about your sins. Or, if you’re lucky you might have even stopped to have your stress level checked by scientologists. Yes, those Test Your Stress Level tables are run by scientologists. I commute through this walk just about everyday. It’s a place where you keep on moving. You don’t want to stop or you might get pummeled. Taking shots here is extremely hard if not straight up dangerous. People are moving very fast, and they’re determined as ever. But if you do ever hear Bach as you’re walking through and you absolutely need a shot of the street performer, get out of the way first. Take your shots when you know you’re clear. It’s nearly impossible to get a good shot when you’re being shoved around.

I learned this the hard way and pissed off some commuters before I took this shot. ^_^
Totally worth it, though.

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The Grand Terminal

The Grand Terminal

Those that are traveling, commuting, waiting for a connection, squatting, looking for a bathroom.
We all arrive here at Grand Central Station. It’s kind of like the heart of NYC. It facilitates the main arterial rail systems that connects everything together. It digs deep into many layers of the underground, filling it with tunnels and stations.

The clashing of the different types of people makes it an amazing place to shoot. Most are too preoccupied to notice their picture is being taken because they’re trying to get somewhere. And just the sheer amount of people is amazing. Though the crowd is impressive, the quality of subjects tends to be monotonous because they’re mostly tourists. They all look the same. Uggs boots and Northface fleeces. But when you go a little deeper into the heart, you can see things mixing and churning. Down by the eatery of the terminal, everyone is there. People gather to where the food is. Even the office workers in the area are grabbing a bite. This shot was towards the center of the eatery area, where a big lounge area is set up. It’s basically a free warm place to sleep. This terminal never closes. You’ll even see pigeons down here, taking advantage of the shelter. You’re bound to find interesting people in places where you can sleep for free. Maybe I’ll spend a night there, just for fun?

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Maestro Moses Josiah, the Master Sawyer

Maestro Moses Josiah, the Master Sawyer

A couple of entries back, I talked fondly of a street performer who played a saw. I hadn’t seen him in over 2 years. The thought of that troubled me. He’s not a young man by any means, so I wanted to know if he was ok and still working. And as you might tell, there he is again. At the same spot as usual. Even before I arrived there, I can hear the saw wailing above the crowd.

As you approach you swear an operatic soprano is pouring its heart out in the distance. You can’t tell of its direction as the walls of the underground are vast and confusing. The pitch waves and beds as you begin to realize the singing is not of human origin.
A clearing opens up, revealing a four rail subway station. An old man is bending a saw over his knee, gently stroking its side with a bow. The saw is singing the lyrical melody of Imagine, as he consoles its sorrow with a gentle caress of his bow.

You hear this tune often with our street performers. They understand that this song is deeply rooted into New Yorkers. It’s deeply rooted in the street performers as well. It triggers an emotional reaction in people. It’s a song that tugs at strings. Many types of strings. So they must learn it. It is our duty as people and artists to tug on these strings. Inspire each other. It teaches us about ourselves.

Moses, you look like you’ve lost some weight. But I’m glad you’re healthy and working. Until we meet again, I’ll save that buck for you.

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Goddess

Goddess

There she is. A God among the mortals. She is pleased to see the train has arrived. A man abruptly walks in the shot, and reveals to us who she truly is for just this moment. By the time my camera closes its shutters, she’ll be gone.

I Love classic street photography. I like looking at it. I like the structure and fundamentals of it. The bold statements involved. But lately, I’m more into the unknown. The ethereal. The fantasy. The, “What the hell is going on here?”. The random head jutting into the shot that happens to be perfectly in focus. Or in this case, the man crossing right into my shot. I actually waited for him to walk by. To be honest I didn’t quite want him THIS far into the shot(He was very quick), but it’s ok!
It turns out, it’s exactly how I wanted it. Life should be portrayed as magical.
I want to contribute progressive work to the movement and show my own flavor.

Big City Dreaming

Big City Dreaming

Free travel, free money, free shelter, free life, and a little booze. You can do a lot of things to make some money down here. Just ask for it. Take off your shoes and ask for it. I saw it today. A man with no shoes walked around in the train repeating the words, “Can ya help me out? God Bless ya.” Over and over again. I think he got a couple bills. Then he sat down on the floor. It was a strange moment. I know which homeless guys to photograph. Or better yet, not to photograph. Some are on heavy drugs. It’s good to be able to tell what type of drug they might be on. This guy with no shoes did NOT look like an individual to point anything at. He was pretty cranked out. I could tell by the scratching it was somewhere in the heroin realm. They’re usually harmless, but this guy was pretty far out there. A bit erratic. Unpredictable. I used my best judgement and restrained myself. I can get pretty ballsy alot of times, but when the air isn’t right…it feels wrong for a reason. Sometimes it’s best not to find out. You have to check your ego when you are on the street. If someone gets in your face and tells you to erase that photo of them, then kindly oblige. Unless it’s really good then you RUN! No. I’m just kidding. You check your ego, then let it go. It’s not worth it. Would you rather get into a fight? Break your camera?!
Accept the confrontation and rejection. Then move on. There’s no time, there’s something going on over there.

Art is Expensive

Art is Expensive

Classic. Window.
NYC has the most absurdly large windows everywhere. People and buildings reflecting more and more shapes into the view. It actually makes more dimensions. Light does funny things upon windows. Take a closer look sometime. Even if you don’t have a camera.

This guy is peering into his wallet. Perhaps, surprised at how much it costs to come see art. Which brings up the question of the value and worth of art. Such like this abstract monstrous welded sculpture. What the hell IS it, anyway? Does it inspire you at all? Are you more concerned about how much you spent to come see this thing?

Breakers

Breakers

Grand Central Station, underground.
Enjoying the many different faces reacting to the same crazy faced dancer. The power of the entertainer is the ability to grab your attention. This one guy made all those people smile, in an instant. Laughing their faces off. The happy and positive side of the under ground.

But you know about balance..

The People In the Window

The People In the Window

Do you ever see anything good in the window of magazines? This is on a subway platform at 42nd St. There’s a little sketchy convenience store on the platform itself. I understand…You see the magazine’s and you’re like, “OH I wanna read about THAT bullshit!” And then you walk around the platform and buy it. But I mean, did you really think there was a chance you were gonna buy one? Really? There’s a reason why you never buy one. And that’s cus you’re broke, and you don’t need to buy that crap. You just wanted to take a look so you might be up and chic in your next conversation. After the first glance you realize that you really don’t give a shit about any of it.

-UG

It Only Takes a Moment

It Only Takes a Moment

I see this guy pretty often up here at the 175th St. station. He was standing next to the army ad that I see everyday. And this picture is right. That jazzy flutist is right. It only takes a moment to slow down and enjoy the music. It’s a blessing to have live music just randomly playing in the subways.

Street performers are one of my favorite subjects. Most don’t mind being photographed, and I always support them with some bills. I have regular street performers that I see. One of my more memorable one was an old man playing a saw with a violin bow. I’d see him 4 times a week every week, by the shuttle train from Grand Central to Time Square. I’d end up giving him 5 to 10 bucks a week. Sometimes I wouldn’t even stop to listen. I would just toss him a buck just cus I know that he plays the most heart wrenching saw music.

I’ve been in transition with my new camera. Nikon D5100.
It’s got a 35mm lens which makes the actual focal length about 50mm. I have read often that shooting in 50mm is the best way to train your vision. It forces you to get a bit close, but still have a little buffer. It makes you think more.
Some also say that the human eye sees in 50mm. Only with the sickest sensor that will ever exist.