Monday, August 13, 2007

On photographing invisible people – an ongoing side project

In a bid to further understand the nuances, subtleties and frailties projected on our faces and vice versa, I sometimes take myself out on the streets of New York with the intent of capturing a compelling mug. Sometimes the person may not be willing while at other times, the face may not be compelling enough. Whatever, armed with a simple point and shoot digital camera, I managed to photograph about four or five people on the streets of New York over the last four months with a short accompanying story to boot.

I mostly try and photograph the more unfortunate among us as I feel that in the ever widening gap between the rich and the poor, the disenfranchised are getting ever more marginalized and are becoming ‘invisible’ to a lot of us hurrying through these varied city canyons. It is often difficult to get the person to give you a pose that complements the story of their lives. Most of the time, people are very forthcoming with their stories as I suspect that they do not find people who listen. I deal with the variegated personalities that I meet in the streets using a combination of my instincts and some related experience that I had obtained while working as a City Harvest volunteer on Community Teamwork’s at my pervious job. It would not be fair if I did not mention the work of Zoe Strauss as a major influence in my beginning this project.

Sometimes, people are nice and tell me that I may photograph them on condition that I return back to the same spot and hand them a print of the picture taken. I have done this twice but the belief that a random person would somehow return to the same spot to hand over a finished picture is humbling.

Over the next couple of weeks, I hope to post results from this ongoing side project of mine. Of course, my ultimate plan is to get these faces to reside permanently on canvas, but right now it resides in bits and bytes.

Jeff Wall, After 'Invisible Man' by Ralph Ellison, the Prologue 1999–2000. Transparency in lightbox 1740 x 2505 mm, Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation, on permanent loan to the Öffentliche Kunstsammlung Basel Cinematographic photograph

No comments: