Something comes alive in me when I have the opportunity to stroll through the streets of an inspiring place, unassuming camera in my hands. My holga “toy” camera has given me so much freedom in that way – it’s tiny in size, cost $30 brand new, and weighs practically nothing. All of these things make it the exact opposite of the professional gear I usually haul around: worrying about theft, trying not to draw attention to myself (so as to not alter the image), and needing frequent visits to the chiropractor because of the weight of the camera around my neck.
A few years back, I was greatly inspired by a Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibit I saw at the High Museum of Atlanta. For the literal first time in history, he was freed from ridiculously heavy equipment (think glass plates instead of film, tripod, and large, unpredictable flash). He traveled the streets of Europe with a handheld camera, documenting the life around him. What was most fascinating to me was the clothes people wore, the cars they drove, the way the buildings and signage looked during that time period. And that’s when it first clicked for me that what looks “normal” to me now won’t always be so.
So, this little exercise of mine, strolling freely, exploring city streets, clicking a button on a toy camera and doing zero editing to the image – it’s also an exercise in seeing the mundane/the normal/the typical everyday things in a new way… a way that knows that what we have now won’t always be so.
Here are a few favorites from a recent trip to NYC.