Wednesday, May 30, 2012

When I grow up, I'd like to be like this guy...

Being a photographer I'm in a league of my own. Being a cyclist and a photographer puts me in an even smaller niche, one which very few people understand. There are a few people that I would not have to explain myself at all to. People that ride their bikes with their cameras without financial motive or coercion. People who obsessively talk bikes and cameras all the time. Whatever the material we decide to shoot, it is candid and in your face photography. Not like a paparazzi,  we can do it while keeping our class and our cameras in tact. People, like say, Bill Cunningham for example.

Bill is a guy I want to model after as I get older. Like me, he loves his vintage Schwinn bicycle. Like me, he's a photographer. He writes the "On the Street" fashion article for the New York Times, and is best known recently for his self documentary Bill Cunningham's New York. He understands the perspective from the bicycle. He really personifies a bicycle's point of view. He will photograph people on their daily routine and make it interesting, even artistic. He's been around for the last 50 years documenting the fashion culture of New York City. There is a lot to learn from him, as a photographer and as someone who's been around much longer than I have.

People like bill and I realize something important about the world around us. It's there, and many people don't look around enough to realize it's existence. People on the day to day get in their cars and then in their offices, working until they have to get back in their houses. No one wants to be aware anymore. No one wants to make the news, they rather just hear the news. And this is sad, really. Because there is so much left to talk about. The problem is that you can't find many people who are intellectually capable of comprehending this point. Even those who are, do not want to talk about the world around them. People's observations are veiled by social media statuses and reality TV shows. It seems that many people need a wake up call.

That's where guys like Bill and I come in. Eccentric and weird by non cultured standards, ready to give our audience a whopping reality check. We are there to take the reader to the source directly, in our journalism and in our photography. My photography instructor in college was Peter Helms Feresten. He was a documentary photographer that took photos with a large wooden camera at biker bars and poor neighborhoods. He taught me that a photographer needed to capture the back story as well as  the defining moment of a time and place. He also taught me that a photo needed to transport the viewer to a place where they normally would not go, but as a result of seeing the photo now have the curiosity to go.  Although I did not finish college, my college instructor taught me everything I needed to know in just those few words. May he rest in peace, he died a few years ago of kidney failure.

The future is something I look forward to, with great expectation. It is the big "?" in my mind. Whatever my future holds I do hope that I will continue to do the things that I love and bring me joy and satisfaction. That I continue to be conscious of my health and continue to create art for the people around me to enjoy. The best endeavors are always the charitable ones.

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