Street photography is like hunting. I set out with my camera loaded and turned on. My exposure is set to the light of the day, and my focal length is set to infinity, and I go anywhere from the end of my driveway to an alley in a country thousands of miles away to shoot an image. Most times I am alone. Sometimes with a kindred photographer. Street photography integrates all of my skills –personal, interpersonal, technical- and intersects all categories of photography (as if there is more than one).
In the beginning, most of my street photography was of signs and windows. And windows were invariably attached to doors and structures. I didn’t choose to photograph people who I deemed strangers whose pictures I would never put on my wall.
One October morning in 2010, Ayano Hisa and I walked the streets of Havana to take photographs. We engaged with people and took their pictures -sometimes posed; sometimes stolen- as we crossed streets, traversed neighborhoods, and went inside one woman’s home.
I had been to Cuba before. I had walked the streets in many countries to take photographs before, but for various reasons, the environment in which I found myself this time; the people with whom I interacted in this city; the energy that I felt around me this trip unleashed a convergence of realizations that compelled me to change. My new perspective broadened my viewfinder, and three things happened. I began taking photographs from the middle of the street where I am a literal street photographer. A bullfighter. I never dodge traffic, but I do dare it from time to time. I began taking photographs from the car while driving (I do not recommend this). And I began taking more photographs of people indestreet. Some of whom are on my walls.
PS: I travelled to Cuba in 2010 with the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra as the guest of Frank Stewart, a Senior Staff photographer for Jazz at Lincoln Center. He is prolific master photographer who was my first photography teacher and remains my mentor. Every encounter with Frank is a well. Some of his words of wisdom: Always carry your camera. Always take photographs. Do things on purpose. www.frankstewartphoto.com Ayano Hisa has an incredible eye. www.ayanohisaphoto.com