My name is Marci Lindsay and I am a DC-based street photographer. I am a member of the DC Street Photography Collective and the Optic Nerve Collective. I’ve only been shooting street photography for about four years, although I’ve had a love and appreciation for it (and photography in general) from a young age.
I started shooting in the street myself when I became an empty nester; bringing up four kids in the suburbs didn’t lend itself to the task. Now I’m lucky to be living again in a city (before kids I was a city planner in NYC and Iowa—yes, that’s weird) and traveling a lot (pre-Covid, anyway).
Until 2017, I didn’t even know there was a genre called “street photography,” yet I was exposed to it as a young child and fell in love with it. I think I’m still influenced in large part by the photographers I was introduced to back then, as I spent many hours poring over a book my parents had, The Family of Man. The book included work by artists such as Brandt, Model, Doisneau, Cartier-Bresson, Levitt, Winogrand, and Erwitt.
These photographers were responsible for my early interest and I seek to shoot in a similar way. I see myself as holding up a mirror to everyday life (not that composition isn’t important), catching moments of emotion, connection, gesture, and humor. These moments are gone in a second and might otherwise be missed, but we can all relate to them, no matter where in the world we are from. I think as people we are all much more alike than we are different. The Family of Man includes a quote by Montaigne: “Every man beareth the whole stamp of the human condition.”
Like most street photographers, I love to shoot in places with many people and at least some action. And like others, I often find more inspiration with the change of scenery you get when traveling. But this isn’t always possible, especially in the past 18 months, so I have tried to be open to the challenge of shooting wherever there are any people at all. Interesting street photos can be made anywhere at any time—home and away, protests and everyday life, and in cities and small towns. Because of the pandemic, I am working on opening my mind and thinking outside the box, to find new inspiration in familiar places.
For the first couple of years of attempting street photography, I only did it when I traveled. Then the kids moved out, we moved to the city, and I got to travel quite a bit. It’s been tough having to stay home during the pandemic. Even in DC, I didn’t want to get on public transportation for a long time, so all my shooting was done within walking distance of home.
It was an abrupt change. In March 2020, my husband and I cut short a trip to Japan because of Covid. Within a week I went from shooting in Tokyo—one of the best places to do street photography—to hunkering down in DC and taking photos of empty streets.
With everything shut down, my husband and I would take a walk at the end of every day. We called it our “sanity walk” back then, and I took my camera. They were short walks, but they were every day. So in that way the pandemic has been good for me because it marks when I started bringing the camera with me every time I go out.
In the past year and a half, Washington, DC, has been a hotbed of protest, which I’ve appreciated (in more ways than one). Still, I miss my almost monthly pre-pandemic trips to New York to capture life in the streets there. It is unlike any other place and still feels very much like home. When they say, “You can’t make that shit up,” they are most likely talking about New York!
I find the real world more interesting than anything you can make up. Street photography grabbed my attention early. My desire to travel the world started early, too, even if I had to wait a while to do it. I wrote my college thesis on Italian neorealism, a film genre characterized by slice-of-life stories with non-actors often in leading roles. I became an urban planner to work in the urban environment that I love. I prefer nonfiction to fiction. Everything seems to have propelled me toward street photography, even if I’ve only just begun to make street photos. And now, like many of those who will read this, I find I may be mildly obsessed with it!