The 700 Dollar Violin

The 700 Dollar Violin

I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus. I went out to explore.
I wanted to get out. I love nature and the outdoors as much as I love the city. I need a balance. Just like anyone does. We need to find a balance. So! I went to Los Angeles. Took a car from LA to Denver. And in the middle I visited a desert town at the border of CA and AZ. Then the Grand Canyon. I climbed up north to Utah to visit the Navajo in their sacred lands. Some more hours north, I discovered Arches National Park in Moab, UT. Then into snowy Colorado and into Denver, where I flew back to NJ.

In a rented cabin somewhere in Moab, UT, I remembered this man with his violin. I took the photo quickly. He was so magnetic and happy. Dancing around with his violin as if it were a woman. I didn’t notice the sign when I was taking his photo nor when I was talking to him. Actually I probably did see it, I just didn’t bother reading it. That night when I came home to review my photos, I read the sign and felt so bad that I only gave him a dollar. I even considered giving him $700 for his violin. Why do I trust him and his sign? Look at him. Tell me this man is trying to rob you. If you’re a musician you know what it means to sell your instrument. You give away a piece of yourself. A tool of your expression. An extension. You are trading it for money that has no meaning but financial value. He is willing to trade his beloved instrument for the love of his wife. (Click to view Largely)

Advertisements

Quick Draw

Quick Draw

I walked right through these mob of kids. Come to think of it, I don’t even flinch when I see a wall of people like this. I just walk right on in. Mobs like this usually are concentrated in the middle and dissipates around the outside. But this one just stopped like a wall or rather, a clearing.
I realized as I stumbled out the other end of the human wall, that they were waiting for someone to come out of a building. Someone famous I presume. As I started to walk away I quickly turned around and fired, hoping to catch them all off-guard! And just as I did, strobe flashes went off in my face! That camera man on the right was shooting ME! But as you can see in the shot, I won the quick draw against him. His flash hasn’t gone off yet.
But the true champion is that one girl posing a thumbs up for me. Well done, fan-girl.

::Click for Larger::

The Importance of Kicks

The Importance of Kicks.

This mob of people were gathered in front of a sports equipment store. (Click for Larger) Puzzled, I asked someone sitting on a lawn chair amongst the mob. “What are you guys waiting for?”
“Sneakers.”
“What?”
“SNEA-KERS. Like the ones on your damn feet.”
“Oh…wow…ok…I thought that’s what you said. Just making sure.”

I was so surprised all these people were waiting to get the same pair of sneakers as EVERYONE else on this line. I heard her tell me sneakers, but I just couldn’t believe it.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

Weekly Photo Challenge: Change

This is a transformer. Violently pulled down from its pole by Hurricane Sandy. This event signified a whole lot of change for us. I was out of power and heat for 10 days. You can consider me one of the lucky ones. Many went through far greater burdens, all in the middle of the frigid winter. And even through the thick of it, we still endured. We cleaned ourselves up and kept on going. Many to this day, are still enduring what Sandy had left us with. But it made us stronger and closer than ever.
A tremendous display of Change.

Scrunch

Scrunch

Sometimes, I stop dead in my tracks and shoot at nothing in particular. And sometimes, people are scrunching their face at me when I do that. (Click for Larger)

I’ve made a new tab on my Menu bar. This actually took a little more time figuring out than I thought it would. WordPress really doesn’t want to make things easy for you sometimes!
It’s for my Flickr Photostream dedicated completely to the Street. Please have a look and enjoy your stay. Feel free to add me as a contact!

Breakers

Breakers

These kids look straight out of a dance battle movie. I’ve seen them both before in the long ride from Columbus Circle to 125th st on the A express. Simply amazing. They’re doing backflips in a moving subway train! Different variations of flips too. I saw them do a crazy stripper pole move, twirling around the place. Some people can’t even stand upright on the damn thing and these kids are doing Shaolin scissor flip kicks. They usually get a dollar from me. As for the lady in the foreground, she made the shot into a great candid. One of the first rules of shooting in the street is to never look at your subjects in the eyes. Look off somewhere else, like you don’t even know they’re there. And Keep Moving. Always keep moving. At the time, I didn’t know if she looked at the camera or not. All I knew is that as long as I don’t look at her and act like I’m totally focused on the dancers, she’ll shrug and won’t be able to tell if I was taking a photo of her or not. Usually works. But then again, the other day I was yelled at by a massive homeless lady as I tried to snag a shot of her greeting a friend. She turned around and screamed “HEY!!!”
I slowly looked up at her, waived without a smile and disappeared into the crowd. In Midtown, you can do that. You can walk in any which way and get swallowed into a crowd of people. And yeah, I’m only human I felt bad that I offended her but at this point my hands move before I think.
The shot turned out to be shit, anyway.
I shrugged it off and headed straight into Time Square to redeem myself.

The Meaning of Rules

The Meaning of Rules

Why do we have rules?
To break them.
In other words, we find our boundaries by breaking them.
Some are content with never finding out. Others will challenge the rules to defy them.
Why does one have to defy the rules, anyway?
Defying the rules is trusting your heart. Society says you must abide by these rules, or be cast out of the machine. Defying is not giving into the made up role that society gives you and your circumstances.
Beautiful things happen when rules are being challenged. Rules actually can change by being defied, for the better or for worse. Defying them is critical in our progression as a society and even as a human being. It’s the very core of evolution.
So if acting from the heart casts you away from society, how are you supposed to be an integral part of society and yet obtain your individuality?
How do you stay in the machine as a working cog and yet have your soul be yours?

By changing the rules.
To change the rules you must first defy them.

This photo as you can see is in color.
I’m going to break the black and white rule for my birthday.
Which is today!
This lady struck me with all the colors on her and I instinctively took the shot. I walked away a couple of steps and thought, “Damn, that’s gonna be a shit black and white shot.” I shrugged and processed it in color, anyway.
This is a blog exclusive photo and won’t be found in my flickr photostream. This is my way of defying classic street photography rules. Once I have enough good color photos, I will make a set on my flickr account for them.
Thanks for viewing!

Here’s a link to my flickr account, Check it out!

https://www.flickr.com/photos/ugstreet/

Street and Fashion

Street and Fashion

HOLY CRAP that lady almost got hit by a car!

She is hobbling back to the sidewalk on her very “sexy” heels that make it clearly dangerous to walk in. I’m looking through the viewfinder already as she tries to cross the street AGAIN despite the oncoming traffic. She just happens to look very stylish in a frame. In reality she walked like her ankles were going to shatter at any moment.

I don’t particularly have a love for fashion. I enjoy the aesthetics of it. I went to see the Alexander Mcqueen exhibit and was truly inspired by the immense creativity of it all. In NYC, high fashion is a given. It’s everywhere. Even I cringe when I see Uggs boots on anyone. And I’m not even into fashion that much! It’s just so much of it, that I’m spoiled. Dare I say, that I might even LIKE it???
Well, I think I like anything that makes my eyes and heart happy. Perhaps a Fashion division of UG Street might develop? I might need some help with that. What do you know about Fashion? hmm?

Click the image for a bigger version of the same image, ok thanks.

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.”

Click for Larger!

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.

Click for Bigger!