New York City.
A sprawling, naked metropolis with eight million stories. If you’re vigilant and with an ever-ready finger on your trusty shutter button, you might be lucky enough to capture a few or maybe that one lucky shot that can help you tell a good story. Sometimes it’s all about being at the right place at the right time.
Shane Francescut from The Weekly Minute blog contributed to this week’s Photo Challenge, asking us in effect to become a documentary photographer and attempt to capture a candid moment of a person, place, or thing.
While walking the streets of Manhattan after attending a convention at the Jacob Javits Center a few years ago, my friend and I came upon this violent exchange outside the Port Authority Bus terminal on 42nd Street and 8th Avenue. In typical New York City fashion this was taking place in full daylight as pedestrians walked right on by, some even skirting closely to this scene as if nothing was happening. Having my dslr handy I started to snap away, moving between the pedestrians to get a better shot. I don’t know what was the cause of this midday WWE event but it was only resolved after the guy in the blue shirt was on the ground after having received some heavy pummeling.
There two things in this scene that I found very fascinating, if that’s the right word to use in this disturbing event. The lady in the electronic wheelchair was very much an active participant. She was not only yelling but I believe also landing a few opportune blows herself while deftly maneuvering her chair like Professor X during a mutant fight.
The second and even more interesting thing about all of this was that just a few scant feet away, there was an NYPD officer witnessing the whole thing with mild amusement! He was there to direct traffic but I thought that he could’ve jumped in to intervene and at least break it up.
Despite being a spectator and even worse – taking pictures – I wanted that cop to get in and stop the fight. I don’t like seeing violence like this on the streets of New York. It just doesn’t sit right with me and lends a very negative image to our beautiful city.
As I was taking the pictures, it didn’t help that my best friend Hector kept adding very colorful commentary and jokes throughout. It was a struggle keeping my camera straight and my eyes dry with all his one-liners and brilliant zingers.
Photojournalism is something that has always interested me and after participating in this photo challenge, I am seriously considering adding more photos like this throughout this blog. Shane Francescut has inspired me and I hope to do a good job at posting more street and documentary-style photos. It’s not as easy as it looks and you really have to work your location, often waiting for the right opportunity for that perfect shot. You just have to be ready to jump in and document when the opportunity presents itself.
And above all, have your camera always with you.