Street photography in Winston-Salem. North Carolina.
Remember yesterday’s post? I said that I often left home a little early to make some “evergreen” photographs. Freestanding art, as the used to say in the news business. These are two examples of that work. If I’m not mistaken, they were made within a day or two of each other. In just about the same neighborhood. But, that was a long time ago. My memory isn’t what it used to be.
In the first picture, the seated man is blind. The standing man has just lighted his cigarette and placed it in seated man’s mouth. If that isn’t compassion I don’t know what is.
Yeah, yeah. A cigarette. But, this was the very early eighties and we were in Winston-Salem. Tobaccoland. And, the city in which many of the huge tobacco brands had their manufacturing plants.
Picture number two. It is as you see it. A group of men passing their lunch break by playing poker on the street.
The pictures. Both were made in very early 1981. Both were made with Nikon F3s. The top picture was made with a 180mm f2.8 lens. The bottom picture was made with a 35mm lens. Both pictures were made with Tri-X black and white film.
All the subjects knew that I was there. I didn’t ask permission to take their pictures before I pressed the button. But, they were aware of me. I spoke to them afterward and learned their names and their stories. That’s how I knew that the guys playing poker were on their lunch breaks and weren’t hanging out all day. If it matters, the top picture won a bunch of photojournalism awards.
This is also where I began to practice what I still do today. Urban street photography. My style is very different from many photographers who practice a sort of watered down street photography. They tend to shoot from their hip or from across the street. I’ve never been very sure about that. I want to learn about the people I just photographed. After all, there are two forms of the story. Visual and written. Combining the two is like the old saying. One plus one equals three.