Ice Cream Truck. West Palm Beach, 2016
Lately I have been attending car shows, which might end up as a new project. This one in West Palm, was a bit of a dud because of the bad weather. I usually want to do these shows on sunny days but as they say, I have to go with the stream. So, it was a shitty day and I started looking around. What I have noticed though is that when I start getting into something, there are always distractions along the way. One project can turn into another—thus food trucks and Ice cream wagons enter into my viewfinder. This might be a better project than car shows but who knows.
There are many ways to take photographs. Some photographers just choose a path or route and walk along it. Others hang out in a spot and wait (probably the patient ones). Still others do a combination of both. The hardest thing for me is to end up in a place where there is nothing really going on. My expectations are diminished, but I should no better—good pictures don’t always come that easy.
The Northwood section of West Palm Beach has always been a good place for me to hang around. Some of my favorite images were shot here, but it has never been a sure thing. When I found myself here one night with nothing going on I decided to walk around in circles. That is, I chose a block and walked around it a few times. naturally the scene changes at every pass. The first time passed this laundromat, it was empty. The next time there was a bit of action, but there was nobody sitting outside. The third pass was much better and I took this shot.
#streetphotography #documentaryphotography #northwood #westpalmbeach
I haven’t been to busy lately. For the past 3 months I have been sort of inactive as a photographer. I wouldn’t go so far as to call it “creative block” because I don’t really believe in it. It’s just that I am busy with other things (moving in to a new house) and thought I needed a break. This is not the first time this has happened to me. 5 or 6 years ago the same thing happened and it was at the same time of year. I just sort of stopped for a few month but when it was over—it was really over and I probably did some of my best work. It goes like this.
There comes a time when I feel I have to shoot just because I have to, not because I want to. So, I grab my camera and hit the streets with no particular ideas in mind. I might grab and interesting shot or two nothing really gels. I get no feeling of excitement or creativity when I am out there. You might say that whatever passion I may feel as a photographer has dried up. I suppose the good thing about self-assigning is that there is no pressure to produce, I can simply step back and wait until the energy is back—and it always returns. As I mentioned, I do not really believe in “creative block” and if it exists, it’s not a negative thing—its exactly the opposite. I come back stronger. So, every 5 or 6 years I go through this 3 month hiatus and concentrate on other pursuits without the guilt associated with not taking any pictures.
This time, it is almost over for me now. We had purchased a new home and it was being renovated for the past three months. At my age and given my temperament, having to deal with that and shooting in the street would have been a bit stressful so I laid back. Next week it will be over, we will have moved in and I can have my life back. In a few weeks it will be as it always was and this period will be over.
There was a time in my life when I did not take a picture for 7 years. That happened after a divorce and subsequent meeting of my second wife and the passion of taking pictures was absent. Then, one day, I woke up and decided to begin again. That was in 1996 and my photographs, in my opinion, became better—much better. In fact there are only 1 or 2 pictures from before this period that I consider any good at all. That’s how it goes. What I am saying is that taking a break is not a bad thing because you always come back—come back stronger.
Who knows why some people like certain photographs? If anyone has an answer, I would like to hear it. One of the things that I love about photography is that it is very personal. Some people love certain images and others will hate the same ones. It really does not matter who the photographer is—famous or not—each image finds its own audience. To prove this point, all you have to do is look at competition winners and runners-up. Although I may agree with the judges on occasion, more often than not, I think some of the honorable mentions were the better photographs. It is not a cut and dry case. With the internet, there is plenty of photography to see but it is not all that good, at least in my opinion. But I am only one person and others may see my tastes in photo quality as mediocre. I suppose that is the beauty of it. As I said, it is a very personal thing.
For instance, I do not like posed situations. Those photographs where the photographer places his subjects in a sort of tableau and shoots the picture are for the most part uninteresting to me. However every now and then some of the images strike me in a positive way, and I do not know why, but they do. I am not a big fan of landscapes—especially when the photographer is trying to show the beauty of a scene. However, every now and then I see landscape that strike me as brilliant because the photographer has gone beyond the prettiness of the image and added something extra—something special. What it comes down to is that it is not only personal, there are no rules. You either like a picture or you do not.
I like this photograph a lot and I am not sure why. It was 5 years ago, almost to the day that I visited Fort Pierce Florida and stumbled on a Christmas pageant taking place here. I wandered around, took a few shots and then this lady asked me what I was doing. I said I was a photographer visiting from West Palm Beach and came across this event and did she mind. On the contrary, she told me she was a riding instructor, and walked me around pointing our some of her students and asking them to pose for me. Posing is not one of my things but I know there are moments in between a pose where an interesting moment may lie. I shot this one just as she was turning to face me. Why do I like it? Who knows? Is it the angle, the ominous sky, the white dress? Or is it simply that it was a wonderful day and I had a wonderful experience shooting that day. Or is it all of it?
I rarely go back to the same place to take photographs but there are some spots that I am truly attracted to. For instance there is this wall, a wall in West Palm beach, another in Hollywood Beach, a corner of Madison Square Park in NYC—and many more. The interesting thing about these places though is that even if the spot remains the same, there is always a different photograph that is waiting for me when I return.
In the Northwood section of West Palm Beach is this grocery store which serves the local population for cigarettes, beer, and perhaps, on occasion even some food. Its pretty seedy and once I went in to get some bottled water. Inside, there was this guy at the cash sitting behind a plate of bullet-proof glass with a small slot at the bottom where people would shove their money through and their change would be received. No words were exchanged. It was very sad. However when you exited and turned left and left, there was this wonderful wall of the building where the setting sun would bathe this wall with a beautiful golden glow. Over the past few years, I have spent a lot of time in front of this wall just photographing the passing parade of people on their way to and from this dismal store
Everybody has their own style in taking photographs. And included in that style are “sub styles” which further define a photographers mark. For instance, I like documentary photography or what is commonly known as “street photography”. Although I am not entirely comfortable with that term, that is what I do, whenever I have a camera with me. Most of the time (99%) I include a person in my photographs. That is my style, that is what I do. Within that style is how I work and how I get the photographs that I get. It is not very complicated. I am a ‘walker”. I move along a certain path or street and when I find something interesting, I stop, shoot, and move on. Other people are more patient. They see a place that they like, they stop, and they wait for the right picture to come into their frame—and then raise their camera and shoot. I am to impatient for that—or so I thought.
Last year at Daytona Bike Week, I spotted this alley near a bar and loved the light so much, I uncharacteristically decided to stop, wait and see what happened. I did this for about 15 minutes and too perhaps about 20 shots. People were coming and going, and then suddenly this couple start to hug and things jumped into place.
Deland is a small town in central Florida which I pass through either on my way to or from Daytona when I go to “Bike Week”. I kind of like the place but I am not sure why. This is the second time I have been here and walked up and down the empty streets lines with restaurants, gift shops and such. Not much going on but I keep working at it. This time was different. I discovered when I was at “Bike Week”, that there is really nothing going on in Daytona before 3:00PM because everybody is sleeping off the activities of the night before. They go there to party and of course they party—all night long. So since I don’t sleep well in hotels, I get up early and decided to have another crack at DeLand. This time, I found a different part of town. It was an alley with a few bars and joints and this guy came out of one of them for a smoke. I love that light!