Up Close and Far Away

I can’t decide if there is more impact close up or with a wider shot taking in the environment. Isolated images that show the details of the face tend to make a more dramatic portrait style photograph but sometimes the surroundings can add that touch of ‘location’ that anchors the image. The shots below were all taken on the first day of summer. The lost at the bottom of the world and the never likely to be found of New York City.

Where the sidewalk ends and nowhere begins will always be a mystery to me. The first photograph almost hurts, empty eyes lost in some thought, some memory, somewhere that is not here and now, I guess. Holding on?

The second, on the Upper East Side, is someone I see all the time. Always surrounded by trash, like a nest. He is oblivious to the world around him, the biggest disconnect of all, I think.

Finally, on 5th Avenue and proudly announcing his upcoming birthday, this guy always hides his face behind a cardboard sign. ‘Clothes, socks and a Metro Card’ not that much to ask for really. ‘Jesus loves you’ I hope so, someone should!

Up Close and Far AwayUp Close and Far AwayUp Close and Far Away

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39 thoughts on “Up Close and Far Away

  1. “somewhere that is not here and now” seems like a good place to be, all things considered…
    Your images go a bit beyond almost hurting. They make me feel the dark side deep in my gut.

  2. the third one is pulling at my heart strings. If i still lived in nyc I would go get him some socks. I think the up close pictures are best when the goal is their expression. Far away pictures can capture a homeless man, and a well dressed business man walking bye with no concern, for example, and make more of a statement (if that makes sense). I guess it depends on what you are going for!

    • If only all of our problems could be sorted out by a pair of socks and a travel card the world would be a much easier place. I fear he may be asking for too little. Thank you for the comment.

  3. The portraits are searing – these are no longer ‘the homeless’ but people. The Gentleman Smoker, particularly, grabbed me and pulled me down onto that tiny piece of sidewalk beside him – the extent of his world. It’s a tragedy and his desolation allows me to glimpse into that fathomless, bottomless, unspeakable loneliness. As I said, searing.

    • Thank you for this, I couldn’t have put it better myself. I think that the suit is the key to the mood of this photograph. What was once the symbol of position and style is worn like a tattered uniform of past glories. A little like its wearer, it is torn, ill-fitting and frayed. Both have seen better days I think.

  4. ‘Like’ isn’t quite the right sentiment but I’ve clicked one anyway. Close up or back a bit? You always seem to get it exactly right to me. These are very moving pictures; they always are.

  5. I hesitated hitting the like button, but after looking again at the photos, you do an excellent job of pointing out what is wrong in this country. There is no need for people to be living like this…

    • Thanks Don. I am overwhelmed by the sheer numbers of ‘Homeless’ on the streets of New York right now. The temperatures are set to hit the mid 90’s for the next 3 days. I dread to think how these people will cope out there in this relentless heat.

    • The bike initiative in NYC is an important part of Mayor Bloomberg’s grand plan. Enabling New Yorkers to speed past the desperate and the needy who fill these streets, thus reducing the inconvenience of having to think about the broken and crumbling social structure over which he presides. Thankfully, Mike Bloomberg will cycle off into the sunset after the elections at the end of this year, assuming his legs can reach the peddles that is.

  6. I always have to steel myself a bit when I receive the email notification of your latest. I always know it’s going to be meaningful and infuriating all at the same time. So I click “like” and grit my teeth in anger. Shit.

  7. Simply AWESOME!!!! Great and moving images!!!! I love them as they make me FEEL (in this case rage of not being able to improve this world). Fabulous text. Thanks for sharing these great documents!!!!

    • The greatest compliment anyone can pay to a photographer is to suggest that their images are strong enough to provoke an emotive response. Santi, I thank you very much for your comment. The text writes itself.

  8. “Where the sidewalk ends and nowhere begins…” Your photos force me to look at things I would otherwise ignore, dismiss or immediately forget. Never stop showing me these photos. Ever. It keeps me human.

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