My On Again, Off Again Relationship With Street Photography

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Because dutch angles make everything cooler, right guys? Right? Riiiiiiiiight?

With all the talking that I do about storytelling and how much it bleeds into every medium I work with, you’d figure that I’ve had that as my goal for the entire time I’ve been doing photography. Truth is, it really wasn’t always the case. I actually wanted to work exclusively with street photography for a while, and spent a lot of time in the city trying to pull that off. Of course, if you look at my Instagram (shamelessplugshamelessplugshamelessplug), you wouldn’t really be able to tell that – there’s not a lot of street on there at all.

That isn’t to say that I don’t like street photo – I think it’s great. It’s something that storytelling is involved with, but in a different sense than what I try to pull off in my photos. Where I can, I try to create a bit of a “hard narrative” with my work. There’s got to be some kind of visible story in play, whether it’s implicit or explicit, and more often than not, it’s down to me to sort of make one. That isn’t to say the moments and memories in my photos are fabricated – it’s just that I’m almost always wholly entwined into the narrative, and I’m trying to bring it out with the editing, or the shot composition, or the people, or the objects, or the setting.

You don’t have that much control in street photography because you often hold the place of an observer, not an active participant. When you start out, you quickly realize that a big portion of your success while you’re out there shooting falls to whether or not you come across something cool while you’re wandering around in the city – not to mention the absolute necessity that you get your camera up in time to catch it.

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Hoboken, NJ – I’m snapping pictures of a fruit market while everyone beside me is taking selfies with Carlo’s Bakery.

And after another while, you start to figure out fast that just whipping your camera out and shooting pictures indiscriminately into people-dense spots in the city isn’t really going to cut it either. The shots can be solid, but more often than not, you end up with something that feels a little hollow – snippets of the very end of moments you catch by chance, looking past the shoulder of the stranger walking in front of you.

Again, this absolutely isn’t to diminish what street photographers pull off. Their pictures are really what drew me towards the medium to begin with. It takes a sniper’s eye, quick hands, quicker creative chops, and a solid understanding of your hardware and software to do this well, and it’s still something I dabble in whenever I find myself tromping around downtown NYC or Hoboken. But it’s definitely not what I love shooting the most, you know? Maybe I’m a control freak, maybe I’m too attached to the hopeless personal nostalgia that I get out of looking back through my shots, maybe I’m not just built for it.

But I have to admit, it does get pretty  addicting sometimes.

 

 

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My On Again, Off Again Relationship With Street Photography

The Developmental Arc of the Casual Alcoholic

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I’ve got twenty one and some change years under my belt at the moment. Which means I’ve absolutely got more than one, maybe closer to three or four years of heavy drinking experience under my belt.

…don’t look at me like that. A good number of you probably have track records that go much further back before you got the magic number on your driver’s license. Yeah, it’s by no means an acceptable thing, and we have laws that prohibit blah, and something something responsibility, but the important part is that I played it smart, knew my limits, and am currently sitting here today, alive and well enough to smile about it.

Obvious drinking disclaimer before I go forward: know YOUR limits, drink responsibly, and don’t do anything stupid.

Anyway, I’ve had a weird developmental arc as a drinker. Before I legally could, my method was mixing whatever I could find in my parents’ liquor cabinet together to make what I thought at the time was just the strongest, most badass, potent sneaky cocktails possible. Tequila and three different kinds of whiskey? Great. Oakheart Rum mixed with Fireball and moscato? Hell yeah. I think at some point I mixed a Glenfiddich 18 year old scotch with a Glenrothes 1995 and felt like I was the classiest kid on the fuckin’ block.

Present me wants to kick past me repeatedly in the shins.

But later on, I managed to get alcohol through a sibling of a friend who was clearly above the legal age, and my tastes turned to lukewarm beers from the bottle, sitting around a bonfire – far from the eyes of prying parents. After that came frosty ales from the tap from an amazing Japanese bar in New York that doesn’t card their patrons. And after THAT came different sorts of whiskey – not mixed this time – first on the rocks and then neat.

Now, as you might have guessed from the picture sitting smack dab at the top of this page, I’m back to mixing stuff together. Thankfully, I can do so now with a level of panache higher than that of a high school kid sloshing things around in red solo cups with the lights turned off, but I still find it funny to look at the endcaps of this little arc of mine, wondering if there’s any sort of connection at all. Granted, I don’t mix to get absolutely slammed anymore. I mix because, well, mixing’s pretty damn cool. You get to experiment around with how spirits mix with fresh ingredients, and find out how temperature and dilution play into different cocktails, or how different garnishes add different effects that make a drink. It’s consumable art that’s easily appreciated by a wide majority of people, without having to be too high brow. I mean, who doesn’t enjoy an well-made, ice cold cocktail among friends?

Sometimes I wish it was that easy as a writer – that the feedback was as immediate as, “Damn, that looks pretty good. Give me another.”

Guess I’ll just keep chugging along on both fronts, eh?

The Developmental Arc of the Casual Alcoholic