New York City remains elusive to me. It has such a distinct presence, such palpable character and yet I find it an extremely difficult city to photograph. It feels as though the scale of it is too big for my camera, like wherever I point the lens, whatever doesn’t quite fit in the frame is so integrally part of the picture, that the photograph I take ends up feeling diminutive, reductive, trivial. One needs either to zoom out and grapple with the full scale of Gotham or to zoom in HONY style, on the faces that make the city’s enormity irrelevant, or perhaps, in a kind of geographical inversion, put it into context. My respect for NYC photographers has grown immensely since I first tried to shoot the city.
I was in New York again this summer, in the midst of my experiments with overexposure, when I came out of the MoMA and took this photograph on West 54th. It offers some interesting possibilities, I think. Some details to focus on, the potential of story in the movement, and maybe a glimpse of scale that implies the bigger picture but doesn’t overwhelm? I’m not certain what I think yet, but it might be worth more exploration. What do you think?
Edie said today, that we are already half-way through the year. I thought about that and it feels to me like the year hasn’t even started yet, but also, like the year just ended. And so it goes for those of us whose lives tick on an academic calendar, those of us for whom New Year’s Eve is a midpoint of sorts and these humid days of summer are an interstice improbably carved out in between years.
That’s how it was when we were kids, wasn’t it? In between the years was a dream-time, a fiery affair with lost love, the burn of things to overexposure where heightened sensitivities sang themselves to numb and the silences broke through, a drowsy glance between friends on waking from an unplanned nap after a sun-drenched day at the beach, the moment around a campfire when it was perfect that we had all run out of things to say and there was nothing left but to listen to licks of yellow flame crack open the vascular secrets of fallen trees.
Summer wasn’t just a season, it was a land unto itself, an island of time as viscerally immediate and easily lost as song lyrics screamed into the rush, out the rolled-down windows of racing cars on gravel roads under cotton-clouded skies too perfect to be noticed except in retrospect, and suspect then, subject to the machinations of nostalgia and memory.