I mentioned a documentary about H.L. that’s being done that I’m part of. H.L. stands for Helen Levitt – and I can’t say exactly what the idea of the movie is but it revolves around Helen Levitt and some contemporary street shooters – of which I’m one. And today I was sitting in the corner of a couch in Matt’s house hooked up to a microphone (the battery pack on my belt was getting hot towards the end) and doing what I’ve come to call “blabbing” about myself for at least an hour and a half. Maybe longer while being shot.
It’s not as easy as you’d think to blab for an hour and a half, but I’m getting used to it – probably from my experience with psychotherapy where you sit down and blab for about 45 minutes. What I’m trying to say is that it was extensive and covered most of what I thought about street shooting and other types of shooting and why and how I do it when it is prob. one of the least lucrative areas of photography.
That’s Tanya. She’s putting this documentary together.
I did this at the end of the interview — while the sound of the espresso machine was going in the background. I was thinking that Matt was making coffee for the crew and I needed it at the end of the interview – but he was using it to get himself ready for his time in the magic light. I started off sort of tight – which is normal for me when the cameras pointing at you and you’re sort of pretending that it isn’t there; but by the end I was rambling along with stories to tell like an old geezer.
These shoots always bring back memories of when I was on the other side of the camera – not asking questions – I never did that – but making sure the framing and lighting were right. One thing I can say is that given that they were shooting for about two days, they got an incredible amount of footage of five photographers doing their thing and talking about it.
I was asked towards the end why I would do this film about Levitt. I had to think about that since Levitt wasn’t a big influence on me – and when I began shooting I can’t say that any photographer was a big influence. What I said was that I just liked her work and felt an affinity for her – which was true. But the truth is that I would be glad to be asked to be in a documentary about street photography in general since it continues to fascinate me and frankly I’ve never seen very much that gives you a feeling at various levels about the people that do it and what drives them. So I was glad to get my two cents about it down on tape – which really is not the same thing as all the writing I’ve done about it in the blog.
On the Way Back from Jackson Heights Parade
(This is for my you know who that keeps telling me that I’m inventing these stories about my being included in documentaries…)
Markus showed up with yellow hair for the shoot. He was the one who initially contacted me about it. He was shooting with the M8 (mostly) and we all had our usual arguments concerning style, i.e. looking through viewfinder or not. Markus has gone beyond the viewfinder, and has a sort of optic nerve going from the camera to his brain. Whereas I still need to look through the viewfinder, but not for this shot of him.
Tanya (the force behind the idea) is very easy to work with and not at all “closed up” about my doing this stuff in the blog – so for a change I can document the documentary while it’s being done. When they were finished with the Jackson Heights parade they traipsed up to East Harlem, but I cut out. I was too preocuppied with a bunch of nagging stuff that had to be done for the business to keep going. In other words, when I got home I was able to deal with Fedex packages that for one reason or another hadn’t arrived at their destinations and I’m pretty obsessive about making sure that the customer gets what they need on time. A lot of my prints are for various events (someone’s 40th birthday, wedding, etc.) and it bugs me when I know someone has ordered something and it’s sitting in a Fedex warehouse because of some mixup – even if it is the customers problem. Once I got that stuff cleared up, I felt pretty loose when I arrived for my sit down with Tanya.
It is true, that close-up, the mayor does seem to be wearing his own mask.