For over 20 years, Flo Fox spent her life photographing the world of New York City. A contemporary of artists such as Andy Warhol, André Kertész, and Lisette Model, Fox now finds herself disabled and her vision seriously impaired. Despite all the trials of disease and age, filmmaker Riley Hooper captures a ceaselessly vibrant woman still thrilled by the sound of a shutter click.
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Over the years, the face of Coney Island has reflected waves of immigration and shifting neighborhoods. Here Orthodox Jews, African Americans, Italians, Russians, Puerto Ricans and folks from all over the world were drawn together by the lure of the surf, sand, boardwalks, side-shows, Nathan’s hot dogs, and the permission to leave go of all inhibitions.—Harold Feinstein
Photographer Harold Feinstein was born in Coney Island, Brooklyn in 1931. His legendary street photos, shots from the Korean War, portraits, nudes, and images from nature are all the result of a distinct talent and magical eye. But it’s the portraits of his birthplace—which he photographed for six decades—that really sing.
In these photos of Coney Island shot at night, Feinstein used his Rolleiflex and the play of dark and light to capture both the thrills and wonder of Coney Island with an intimacy all too often missing in street photography. Clearly, if a place can act as a muse, Feinstein found his next to the seaside in a corner of Brooklyn.
This post was contributed by writer and photographer Melissa Breyer.
I often relish the moment when someone locks a gaze with me. There is an awkwardness, confusion and unpredictability during this acknowledgment of the other—me, a stranger, suddenly doing what most people are taught not to do; staring. —Serge J-F. Levy
We recently talked to NY-born, Sonoran Desert dwelling photographer Serge J-F. Levy about his series Excuse me sir, did you just take my picture?
This project was shot in NYC, where you grew up, and Brooklyn. Do you feel you could be giving off a tenor that subconsciously creates a bias in your subjects that otherwise wouldn’t exist if you were not a native?
“Just like anyone else, I’m a product of my environment. New York City breeds a certain brand of callous, caution, and stone/hardness. For many that attitude is superficial; it’s a façade housing a gushy and tender interior. I think many of the people in my photographs are responding to my exterior; an exterior that has been constructed by being born, raised, and digested by the streets and people of New York City. And if you look carefully at my photographs, there are a few people in my images who are tender or sensitive enough to penetrate that exterior.”
Many photographers make a point of not engaging directly with their subjects, yet it seems as if you are situated directly in front of them. Some of them appear provoked—reacting to interference. Was this your intent?
“I would hate to provoke someone. In my various bodies of work, I have come to discover that one of my core interests is how I am present in my work. Years ago when shooting in the streets I would release the shutter only milliseconds after raising the camera to my eye. The speed usually afforded me a composition where my subject was fully engaged in a world or activity that was mostly oblivious to my presence.
“But in Did You Just Take My Picture I raised the camera to my eye and waited until the subject recognized my presence. In that time I allowed myself to feel the tension and excitement peak just as I would press the shutter. It’s not easy to lock gazes with a stranger and paradoxically even less so when my camera is in between us. The document of that moment experienced between me and one of the eight million inhabitants of New York City is invaluable to me; even the outtakes. It’s an acknowledgment of life…of being alive.”
Would you say your subjects are responding to your demeanor, or could you be responding to theirs?
“Both. I don’t walk down the street and jump in front of random strangers. There’s usually some morsel that inspires me to try working the moment. That could be a person’s gait, their facial expression, their attire, or even something as nebulous as someone’s attitude. In that case I am responding to their demeanor. But given that I am white, 6 feet tall, keep a clean shaved head, and have a camera around my neck, I am inevitably also evoking responses from people around me.”
What was the most seductive aspect of this project for you? The surveillance, the level of discord, the moment of truth?
“Street photography reminds me a bit of what I have read about the action painters of the Abstract Expressionist movement or what I observe in improvisational modern dance. I think that the process and what it reveals to me in the moment while shooting and later when reviewing my negatives is the most seductive aspect of this project.”
While working in Afghanistan, Brooklyn-based photographer David Lang stumbled upon street photographers working with incredibly unique, hand-made cameras, similar in look to a large-format camera. The wooden box camera, called “Kamra-e-faoree”, translating to “Instant Camera,” is both a camera and darkroom in one—Lang explains how they work: “They use shutter-less lenses and shoot paper negatives that are developed inside the camera using small containers of chemistry. The negatives are then re-photographed using the same process and the customer is given both the positive and negative images. This time consuming and unique process yields amazingly stark images that are without comparison to modern image making.”
Proud owners stand alongside their creations like a magician with his bag of tricks, waiting to capture a face, a moment with a box seemingly full of possibility. Sadly, these kamras are not as prolific as they used to be, partly because while Afghanistan remained under Taliban control, they were hidden by their owners or destroyed by the Taliban, and because digital photography is becoming more common and accessible in Kabul.
The Afghan Box Camera Project works to keep a record of these unique kamras, and also provides instructions on building your own, which Lang is currently in the works of.
It’s all how you look at it. Boston-based photographer Pelle Cass would likely agree. Selected People is an ongoing series he started in 2008 that he says, “both orders the world and exaggerates its chaos.” He starts by choosing a public location, sets up his tripod, and shoots hundreds of pictures in the same spot. From there he begins his “selection” process in photoshop—choosing what to leave in and what to take out—”nothing has been changed, only selected,” he says. Through the selection process, Cass creates patterns of time, space and people; visual rhythms condensing countless moments into one. Cass is a street photographer in a digital age, unveiling “a surprising world that is only visible with a camera.”
In Danish photographer Casper Balslev’s energetic series, the street photographs were taken on a visit to Sjinjuku, Tokyo’s financial district. Inspired by the faces and the characters in the area, Balslev snapped shots of people walking, biking and passing by. Asked if he was looking for specific subjects to shoot: “No, it was very spontaneously done. Most people never really noticed me taking their photo. I would walk around and spot people, then simply approach them, shoot one shot quickly, and then leave. I was inspired by street photographers like Mark Cohen and Bruce Gilden.”
Feature Shoot Contributing Editor Carolyn Rauch is the Director of Photography at Newsweek.
Philadelphia-based photographer Stefan Abrams‘ style feels fresh, unassuming and authentic. He captures a broad spectrum of subjects and we are let in on his daily observations and discoveries. A selection of his street photography is shown here, including pieces from a series he calls The Origin of the World, of which he says:
The Origin of the World is the first line drawn in the dirt. It is the scratch that begins the history of art. It is the marking, the re-marking, and with photography, the re-re-marking. It begins with the mark that expresses the self. It becomes the mark that expresses desire, fear, ecstasy, arrogance, even family. And it turns into the mark that is photography; the mark that captures other marks.—Stefan Abrams
And just as there is an origin, there is quite possibly an end; a concept that Abrams explores throughout the work.
After nine months of traveling around China, Spanish born, Shanghai-based photographer Álvaro Escobar Ruano came up with Censured, a visual metaphor for China’s strict and prohibitive nature. The covered cars sit quietly—they very much exist in reality, but seem to be stifled. For Ruano, the series explores a country whose government controls every step its people take and where information is often censored; the truths that remain to be told are concealed within the shrouded cars.
The deadline is around the corner for the 2013 Fotoura International Street Photography Awards, honoring the best street photography from around the world. This year’s theme is ‘Hometown’; photographers must submit street photography from where they live or have lived. There will be first, second and third prize winners and 10 runners-up.
Work from the winners and a selection of the best entries will be presented in an exhibition in London in Spring 2013. This year’s competition has an added feature should photographers choose to use it—the Fotoura App. The app allows the public to vote for their favorite images, the most popular entries will be featured online and at the Awards exhibition.
Submit your work by February 12, 2013 for consideration.
*Fotoura is a Feature Shoot sponsor.