Things aren't always what they seem to be...

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    About a week before this picture was taken, I saw this same woman with her two suitcases (who could forget such a lime-green suitcase?) sitting in almost the same spot here in Verdi Square at 72nd Street & Broadway, reading a book or working on a crossword puzzle; click here to see the picture.

    At the time, I thought she was a slightly confused, but peacefully content, tourist; now it seems that my first impression was mistaken...

    And, in fact, it's best not to leap to any conclusions: three weeks later, on August 18th, I saw this same woman (apparently wearing the same shoes and slacks) sitting wide-awake and writing busily in a notebook, on a park bench in Riverside Park, some 5 blocks north and 3 blocks west of here (click here to see it).

    Note: this photo was published in an Aug 22, 2009 "Poverty in America" blog article titled "1 in 5 Americans Are Poor." It was also published in a Nov 17, 2009 blog titled "Payday Loans and Bankruptcy in Canada: No Clear Correlation."

    Moving into 2010, the photo was published in an Apr 10, 2010 blog titled "Mind Blowing American Wealth Disparity: The Bottom 50% Have Comparatively Nothing." It was also published in an undated (Sep 2010) blog titled "109th Street, part 3." And it was published in a Nov 22, 2010 blog titled "Prepare Yourself If You Go Abroad." It was also published in a Dec 27, 2010 blog titled "Are there any private lenders that give student loans after bankruptcy?"

    Moving into 2011, the photo was published in a blig titled "Covington Cash." It was also published in an undated (late Apr 2011) blog titled "Private Student Loans Set to Stage a Major Comeback."

    Moving into 2012, the photo was published in a May 24, 2012 blog titled "Author Archives: admin." It was also published in an Oct 3, 2012 blog titled "Check Out This Great Payday Loan Advice." And it was published in a Nov 14, 2012 blog titled "Things You Ought To Know About Cash Advance Loans."

    Moving into 2013, the photo was published in a Jan 6, 2013 blog titled "Should I pay the biggest debt first which is the HSBC Bank?" And it was published in a Jan 16, 2013 blog titled "Great Payday Loan Tips From The Experts." It was also published in a Jan 26, 2013 blog, with the same caption and detailed notes that I had written on this Flickr page. And it was published in a Feb 26, 2013 blog titled "Check Out This Great Payday Loan Advice." It was also published in a Mar 1, 2013 blog titled "Useful Tips and Advice on Getting a Payday Loan." And it was published in a Mar 26, 2013 blog titled "Who is the best company to consolidate payday loans?" It was also published in an Apr 1, 2013 blog titled "Great Payday Loan Advice For A Better Future," as well as an Apr 13, 2013 blog titled "Good Advice On Managing Your Next Payday Loan."


    This is part of an evolving photo-project, which will probably continue throughout the summer of 2008, and perhaps beyond: a random collection of "interesting" people in a broad stretch of the Upper West Side of Manhattan -- between 72nd Street and 104th Street, especially along Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue.

    I don't like to intrude on people's privacy, so I normally use a telephoto lens in order to photograph them while they're still 50-100 feet away from me; but that means I have to continue focusing my attention on the people and activities half a block away, rather than on what's right in front of me.

    I've also learned that, in many cases, the opportunities for an interesting picture are very fleeting -- literally a matter of a couple of seconds, before the person(s) in question move on, turn away, or stop doing whatever was interesting. So I've learned to keep the camera switched on (which contradicts my traditional urge to conserve battery power), and not worry so much about zooming in for a perfectly-framed picture ... after all, once the digital image is uploaded to my computer, it's pretty trivial to crop out the parts unrelated to the main subject.

    For the most part, I've deliberately avoided photographing bums, drunks, drunks, and crazy people. There are a few of them around, and they would certainly create some dramatic pictures; but they generally don't want to be photographed, and I don't want to feel like I'm taking advantage of them. I'm still looking for opportunities to take some "sympathetic" pictures of such people, which might inspire others to reach out and help them. We'll see how it goes ...

    The only other thing I've noticed, thus far, is that while there are lots of interesting people to photograph, there are far, far, *far* more people who are *not* so interesting. They're probably fine people, and they might even be more interesting than the ones I've photographed ... but there was just nothing memorable about them.

    wennss: ♥AC's number one fan ! new york my home, and 4 other people added this photo to their favorites.

    1. Franciscan Media 38 months ago | reply

      Ed. I'd like to use this photo in a short program on political responsibility. How can I obtain permission to do so?


    2. Ed Yourdon 38 months ago | reply


      If it's non-profit/non-commercial, then you can do so -- no fee, no charge, no payment or remuneration of any kind.

      OTOH, if it's a commercial/for-profit activity, then you can't use it, for a simple reason: I do not have a written "model release" from the person shown in this photograph. Indeed, I don't know who she is, and have no idea how to find her. But if she ever saw her photo in a publication or other commercial product, she would have the right to sue for some kind of compensation.


    3. )O( CassandraMae )O( 29 months ago | reply

      I wonder what her story is....
      and where she is now?

    4. Ed Yourdon 29 months ago | reply

      Cassandra MaelsOkay,

      Those are very good questions, and unfortunately I don't have any answers.

      I need to find a way -- both persuasive and truthful -- that will enable me to approach strangers like this and find out what their story is. Maybe I should start a book-writing project ... or maybe I should make it a photo-journalism project of some kind, either on Flickr or a website of my own.

      In any case, I took this photo (and another one of the same woman, a few blocks away, in Riverside Park) more than four years ago. I typically spend an hour at lunchtime, once or twice a week, in this little park on 72nd Street, photographing anyone who looks "interesting". And in the four years that have passed, I have not ever seen her again ...


    5. )O( CassandraMae )O( 29 months ago | reply

      Wow..well i hope she is at least someplace happy. Maybe with family.
      I think your photos are fascinating. I live on Long Island and i would love to be able to go out and do what you do. I love just watching people.

    6. Ed Yourdon 29 months ago | reply

      Thanks for the kind words about my photos.

      I went to high school in Northport, out on Long Island, and we had a summer house there for a few years. You might be interested in seeing the notes and photos associated with my 50th (!) high school reunion in Northport, which you can find here on Flickr:

    7. c.h.jones 5 months ago | reply

      Ed, I'd like to use this image on a new blog I'm starting called Poverty 2.0. Ideally it will become a community blog, hosting the multiplicity of voices of the modern poor and the descent from the middle class into "Poverty 2.0". This is entirely non-profit, non-commercial. No money made or exchanged or handled in any way. Just me -- one member of the Poverty 2.0 generation -- trying to tell these stories.

    8. Ed Yourdon 5 months ago | reply

      C.H. Jones,

      Thanks for your message. Yes, it's fine for you to use the photo in the manner that you have described. Best wishes for success with your new blog.

      Ed Yourdon

    9. c.h.jones 5 months ago | reply

      Thanks Ed. See the initial posts here: Still a work in progress. :-)

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