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Tourists on the Upper West Side

Note: this photo was published in a Jun 16, 2010 blog titled "To Get Results, Open Your Webmeetings With the End In Mind."


It was also combined with several others in a photo-mashup, in an undated (Nov 2009) blog titled "Lost Fairies." And it was published in a Dec 21, 2009 blog titled "Have Tech, Will Walk into Walls." It was also published in a Sep 27, 2010 blog titled "When Tech Fails... Why GPS Can Be A Bad Thing."


Moving into 2012, the photo was published in a Jul 17, 2012 blog titled "Get Off Your Cellphone And 9 Other Tips For Not Getting Mugged."




If I saw a couple like this in Greenwich Village, I probably wouldn't even give them a second glance; after all, lots of people in that part of New York CIty dress in .... ummm, colorful ... outfits. And if I saw them somewhere on the Upper East Side, or in the Wall Street area, I would know they were from out of town.


But on the Upper West Side, I can never be sure, because there's such a wide variety of people living in this area. This photograph was taken right across the street from my apartment building, as I walked outside at lunch-time, and for all I know they could be next-door neighbors that I just haven't seen (or paid attention to) thus far.


On the other hand, the map that the girl is holding (which says "Manhattan" if you look closely) is a dead give-away. This couple is standing right next to a cross-town bus stop; they're 50 feet away from an express stop on the IRT subway line; and they're on a major cross-street that is one of the main entrances onto the West Side Highway. Nobody who lives here would need a map to tell them any of those details...


But it still leaves an obvious unanswered question: where are they from? Iowa? San Francisco? For reasons I can't really explain, my guess is London or Amsterdam ... in any case, I hope they weren't too terribly lost, and I hope they're having a nice time in the Big Apple...




This is the continuation of a photo-project that I began in the summer of 2008: 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.


As I indicated when I started this project in 2008, 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.


Thus far, I've generally avoided photographing bums, drunks, crazies, and homeless 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.

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Taken on June 7, 2009