The Mere Clicking of the Shutter

The pandemic drove us all inside and away from each other.  For me, something even funnier happened.  It drove me back in time, photography wise.  There I was shooting with all manner of digital cameras for almost 15 years.  Now I’m shooting with my film cameras again and getting back into that big time.

Now I’m lugging my medium format camera and my old Canon film camera with me everywhere.  I’m festooned with cameras, happy as ever.  I’m already starting to take a lot of film pictures again.  I have a digital darkroom kind of a set up now with a scanner for the film.  I unspool my rolls of film and this magic just happens.  I can sit and scan for hours without stopping.  I do though sit there sometimes and wonder why I’m doing this, why I even ever picked up a camera in the first place.

A lot of people that take pictures talk about how they got interested in it because they loved how the image showed up on the paper in the darkroom or that they were interested in how the camera actually worked.  For me it was always that you created a world or a memory that only existed inside the camera.  But for me there was always so much more to it than that.

For me, it was growing up in New York City in the 1980s.  Growing up, it was always just me and my parents.  Us three.  No siblings.  No babysitters.  Me among the adults, along for the ride.  We used to walk around New York for hours.  I saw people break dancing and guys wearing gold chains and Adidas.  I saw Wall Street Yuppies.  I saw wealthy teenagers.  I saw it all in that city.  New York City lit up at night alone would make you want to take pictures of it.  What was there then is now lost to the world.  What fascinated me most doesn’t really exist anymore.  There is no more Tower Records in Greenwich Village.  The B Altman building is still across the street from the Empire State Building but it’s not a department store anymore.  I wish I had been able to capture what it was like to go to Tower Records in the 1980s and what the entry to B Altman looked like.  I remember thinking I wish I could capture this stuff for myself.  It was such an interesting world. 

We also went to Poland to visit my family a lot in those years.  We visited Poland in the 1980s, when it was still communist.  Just sitting in my grandparents’ living room in those days.  I can still picture it with all the furniture, the black and white television and the dog.  They lived in this communist apartment block and you could see the rest of the buildings in the complex from their balcony.  They looked as desolate and cold as anything you saw in any movies or pictures of those places at that time.  I remember the tiny kiosks that you would go to buy tram tickets and even the trams themselves, old, wooden creaky things.  There were these old communist stores with these neon signs on them.  There were these fancy old style delicatessens.  And that was just in my city grandparent’s area.  I remember riding my bike around my country grandmother’s house and seeing a guy standing there with a sickle.  I remember wishing I had a camera at that moment to capture that.  It all made such an impression on me that I wish I could have documented it on my own.  

That desire to document the world around me never really left.  Now its really funny because I don’t really leave my neighborhood but I still find tons of things to photograph around me and seemingly never run out of things to photograph.  Here’s some recent pictures from my neighborhood.  I’ve been in Boston now for eleven years and living in my “new” neighborhood for the past two years but the desire to document it all is fresh as ever.  Once the photography bug bites you, it never really leaves you.

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