I grew up in Detroit where I had an uncle who was a musician and who also ran a camera store. One day he gave me a Brownie camera which I still have, and he would come to our house and he and my father would film hours of family events, when small film cameras were becoming available to everyone. I suppose that was the first seed of my interest in photography. After attending the University of Michigan I moved to Chicago with the intention of becoming a journalist. I did in fact begin to work as a journalist there, but the intense and divisive political climate at the time made it necessary for me to switch gears. Eventually I began to work as an actor to support myself. During that time I had bought a Nikormat camera and had been taking pictures on the streets of Chicago. It was the first camera I had owned since the little Brownie. In time, the acting side of my life drew me to New York City where I continue to live. Shortly after getting to NYC in the bad old days my apartment was broken into and all my cameras and many of my negatives were stolen and for a period of about ten years I did not shoot anything at all. Slowly I realized I wanted to return to photography and I’ve continued since then.
I am drawn to take photos of people more than anything else. You cannot walk the streets, especially here in New York City without having faces and lives almost force you to pay attention to them.
At the same time I find, as others have said, looking for photos brings your attention to things you otherwise might not have noticed. And for me sometimes that can lead me toward projects I would not have anticipated. I have done an extended series on houses isolated on water, and alone in the snow and for three years I went only to the East Broadway section of Manhattan’s Chinatown, for example.
As often as time, the weather and the light permit. For several years I went out every day, no matter the conditions. After a while I began to be more selective.
Since I live in New York I spend most of my time here on the streets. But sometimes like everyone else I need to get away from the familiar and so I go to other cities, and some are better than others but you never really know until you get there. Each of us has our favorites, I suppose, but there is something about the densely packed urban areas that attract me, if only because you have a better chance of seeing something that draws your attention and also because of the numbers of people, you have a bit more anonymity taking pictures. I plan to head out on some road trips here in the US as soon as conditions permit.
When you wind up taking a good photo it’s like finding a window open to a world you only occasionally get a glimpse into, and so you keep shooting in the hope of seeing a little further into that world, so to speak, a world which reveals itself to you only if you are not trying to force it.