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Strangers & Not So Strange | by Nelson Foto | Shutter to Think
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Strangers & Not So Strange

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Updated 06 September 2008:


The original story behind this shot is interesting enough.


In May, while working on my Strangers project at the pub, I'd just finished pulling some prints when I saw this bearded fellow strolling along the sidewalk. I made a quick introduction after calling him back to speak with me, then asked if he would be willing to sit for a quick portrait within the pub's foyer.


He agreed. When he spoke, a wonderful NY accent flooded the air around us. I asked where he was from, and he replied he was a retired FDNY South Bronx firefighter, in town to help his daughter find a home, etc., as she had moved to our city.


I was so excited at having spotted this guy with the magnificent beard and his agreeing to sit for me that I slipped up and let him get away from me before the prints had developed. Nervously, I peeled the prints to see what I had. Thankfully, one of the two was perfect.


He told me his name; my nervous brain buggered what I heard, and Ted Scott became Tommy Scott. I've dreaded letting him get away without some sort of contact info. I did drop a calling card on him, but I often do not hear back from folks.


Earlier this week, a woman contacted me about Ted's portrait. Through her e-mails, I relearned the man's name. I also learned that Ted is not just a retiree; he's a man suffering from the effects of being at ground-zero on the day of the WTC attacks.


Rather than paraphrase, I'll post the story as received:




Ted settled his daughter into U of Arkansas and got all that down but I'm sorry to report he came down with a lung infection and has been spending quite a bit of time in the hospital. He's at Duke and they are kind of having a hard time figuring out what's going on. I'm not sure how much he told you of his life in New York but he was a fire fighter for 24 years with 42 Truck in the South Bronx. A couple of years ago he went back for the re-dedication of his fire house in the Bronx. Those boys had beat on that place for quite a few years so it needed a little sprucing up. So it just so happens they had the re-dedication and the next day was 9-11. Ted wasn't on the initial call but went down to the firehouse as soon as he could get through the panic in the city and stayed at the fire house for the next week or so and ran down to look for people every day. Ted hasn't been in good health ever since he

was around all that chaos. So that's what everyone is thinking in the back of their head as far as his condition. It seems a lot of first responders are suffering with various respiratory illnesses. Ted has always hated doctors and hospitals and would never thoroughly look into his condition. So here we are. I'm really glad you ran into Ted when you did. I find photographs a very important part of documenting life. So hopefully he'll recover and you'll run into him wandering about again!



This project is being shot exclusively on Fujifilm FP-100C instant film, using a Mamiya RB67 Pro-S fixed with a Polaroid back.


I am grateful for your continued support.


Best wishes,





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Taken on May 24, 2008