These days I call myself a Street Photographer, though once upon a time I would have simply said “I’m a photographer” and that’s what it would have meant. Most of my photographs originate in the random chaos of the public space, in the ambient weirdness of everyday life. I always carry a camera, and I mean always. These images are my personal visual diary. They are not staged; reality is plenty strange enough.
What I’m looking for in a picture is the ‘significant gesture.’ This for me is what makes a photo alive. When I began to work at public events and in the street, I watched people, saw what they were going to do, tried to anticipate when they would point, look, touch, make a face, shout, do something – anything – special. No matter how fast and fleeting the gesture, I tried to make that the moment when I clicked the shutter. Much of street photography is watching, seeing, anticipating, not shooting everything that goes by. That’s like firing a shotgun up into the air and hoping a bird will fly by. Sometimes I see someone doing something interesting and miss it, but if it is a more habitual gesture, like the way someone waves their hand in an animated conversation, they may do it again. I will be ready the second time. If I miss it again, well, there are always more pictures to be made.
In 1984, I declared myself a photographer and built a career and a reputation. While I had always shot color for my commercial work, I avoided using it for personal work, preferring to work in black and white especially as I printed my photographs in the darkroom. But pushed by my colleagues, I began to dabble in shooting my personal photos in color. I got my first digital camera in 2004 – I resisted a long time – and realized that I could at last print color myself. But it was here in New York in 2010 that I decided to really pour all my energies into it. It was a way to reinvigorate myself, to take on a big challenge, to shake myself out of a certain boredom and complacency that was setting in. After 25 years of shooting in one way, I needed something different, and that was making my photographs on the streets in color.