Black and White Photography of New York - Dave Beckerman

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Sabrett Stand

30 August, 2008 (23:39)

sabbrett-stand-1580 Sabrett Stand

That hour or two before dawn is magical.  The food stands are rolled into place.  Bound stacks of newspapers are tossed from the delivery trucks.  Bread sits in restaurant doorways.  In Times Square, there’s a cop on every corner - watching and waiting.  The city has just awakened and is getting dressed for another day.  After dressing, the city looks at itself in the mirror and finds that all sorts of junk have been spewed on the streets.  The sweepers arrive to brush away the former day’s refuse.

The transition from night to day is seen by the insomiacs, the night workers just finishing their shift, and the artists looking for inspiration.  A guy with the smell of liquor on his breath approaches me and asks if I want to take his picture.  My first reaction is, no thanks.  And surprised, he walks off a few paces.  He shrugs at me and says that he’s famous.  That he’s been written up in the New York Times.

I ask him what he was written up for.  I suspect that he committed some crime.  But he says that he is well known for walking the streets of the city all night - while drunk - to find inspiration in people’s faces.

Now I ask him if I could take his picture.  But he says, no.  I had my chance.

I say, okay.  Whatever.

He comes towards me and puts his arm around my shoulder.  True enough he seems to be seeped in liquor.  And again he informs me that he’s been written up in the papers, and that I should google his name (which I’ve now forgot).  And that he’s famous for walking the streets looking for inspiration.

I tell him, yes - that’s what I’m doing also.

And he nods knowingly.  Yes, he whispers.  I know you are.

I ask if I can take a picture of his back.  This appeals to him and he walks off a few steps, slings a sweatshirt over his left shoulder - and strikes a pose where he looks up towards the now breaking dawn.

I take a few shots.  Thank him.  He reminds me of his name; we shake hands; and both continue on our search for inspiration.

Ah, I know you’re wondering where the photo is that I took.  It needs some work so I’ll post it later.

In Times Square, the first couple of tourists arrive to gawk at the signs and look at city guides.  I know that it’s time to get out of the drizzle and go home.  I repeat his name a few times so I won’t forget it, and now I remember his first name and maybe his last name.  If I find him, I’ll add it with his photo.

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Comment from Stephen BRAY
Time: August 31, 2008, 11:46 am

“The transition from night to day is seen by the insomniacs, the night workers just finishing their shift, and the artists looking for inspiration.”

I was beginning to wonder if you ever sleep ~ but now recognize that artists looking for inspiration probably don’t need it. Personally I value a siesta.

On a different note, I agree these IR images do have the character of some of Brassai’s photographs of Paris, but he used a plate camera and flash so I figure some of his images were posed, even though they looked spontaneous. Your’s of course are inspired grab-shots in the style of ‘The Decisive Moment’.

Whoops, did I mean to make that last comment on your next post featuring the Japanese tourists? Whatever ;-)


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