On February 1, 2022 I will present the Love That Dirty Water Photo Exhibit Virtual Reception on YouTube to be broadcast live at 7 PM Eastern. “Love That Dirty Water” is an exhibit of my street photos that is currently showing through February 20, 2022, at the Jaffrey Civic Center, Jaffrey, New Hampshire. I will present my background, as well as a discussion of street photography, the exhibit at the Jaffrey Civic Center, and my approach to street photography, using examples from the exhibit. For photographers, I will briefly touch upon street photography techniques and equipment.
I will take questions via live chat during the broadcast. To chat with me, you will need to be logged in to your Google account. You do not need a gmail account. During the broadcast, a button to create your channel for chat will be displayed in the chat window.
After broadcast, the video of the broadcast will be available on my YouTube channel EdeksPhotos. You can also find my channel by searching YouTube for EdeksPhotos.
There are only a few of us who are willing to take the risk of venturing out into the city or even out of our homes. It is possible that we are the ones who feel the caprice of indefinite lock-downs and stay-at-home directives. Personally, as a cancer survivor, I would rather take some risk and live my life rather than give up a large portion of the time remaining in my life to fear.
Many of the people that I follow on Instagram are posting older work because they have suspended their lives. They are posting sad, dated retrospectives with hopeful messages about getting back to normal. I prefer to take action rather than wait for others to decide what is right for me and I refuse to suspend my life.
Depression often motivates me and my wife, Marne, will prod me when she feels me descending into Mordor. That is when I hop onto my bicycle and go for a ride. Rides into Boston have been a staple for me and for my street photography. I had a solo show of my Boston images planned for this month until the world stopped turning.
This year I have made two bicycle trips into Boston to date and both times I persisted in bringing my camera. During both of those trips I visited some of my favorite places in Boston. My style includes people in unique situations and my images almost always have a message or a story. My favorite places did not deliver as they have in the past since the density of people was low. High volumes of people guarantee a diversity of subject matter.
During both of those trips I found that I could do a documentary on homelessness during the pandemic. It seemed that the only occupants of the park benches in Boston Common were homeless and there were many congregated near the Park Street Church. More than half of the pedestrians in the canyons of the Boston city streets were also homeless.
Still, there were bright spots, such as the Esplanade where there was the usual traffic of runners, walkers, and cyclists. There was thin attendance at the Boston Public Garden. It is difficult to imagine people avoiding the place once the weather turns warm since it is already flourishing with the addictive colors of the trees and flowers. Even with the parking areas cordoned off, a few people from Southie cannot resist the lure of the ocean at Pleasure Bay and Castle Island. In the North End, Christopher Columbus Park entertains a number of people who have no trouble maintaining their distance.
There are plenty of trite reminders of our current predicament. The statue of former mayor Kevin White across from city hall has a face mask. The duck and ducklings of the famous Make Way for Ducklings sculpture in the Public Garden are wearing face masks. It would not be so bad if there were crowds of real people wearing face masks walking among them.
In the North End at Christopher Columbus Park near the harbor I found a hopeful sign of life. A man and his eight year old grandson were flying a kite. The boy was retrieving the kite hand over hand while the old man wound the line on a card. We talked a bit and I learned that this was not the first time they had flown a kite at this location. The old man and I both had our faces covered and the boy looked at me curiously, probably trying to discern an approving smile. That is my best image from the past two outings.
I will take every opportunity that I can to return to Boston during the coming months to witness the transition into summer. My hope is that the people, the beer gardens, the pushcarts, and the food trucks come back soon. None of us can continue to live this way.
As a street photographer, I know that I will not be able to do a credible shoot for some time. My style almost demands crowds so that there is a diversity of people and activities. Not all activities are worthy of a street photograph. Street photography is similar to nature photography in that respect. It takes time and patience to find a worthy scene because my images are little vignettes that evoke an emotion or tell a story.
My images are immersive because I get close to my subjects and a crowd gives me cover so that I do not influence the action. Social distancing makes it impossible to get lost in a crowd or to get close to my subjects. The crowds of Boston themselves are temporarily gone and those people who remain walk in small groups and keep their distance from others..
Bicycle rides into Boston are one of the ways that I use to find street photography subjects and on Monday, 6 April, I took my first bicycle ride into Boston this year. I wore a bandanna over my nose and mouth. My goal was to determine the impact of social distancing on street photography. Usually, I ride to one of my favorite locations and linger, relaxing or eating lunch and waiting for something to happen. Monday was not a usual day due to the virus.
My bicycle trips to Boston often yield fifty to one hundred images of people enjoying life in the city. On Monday there was not a single scene worth capturing. Everywhere I went, people were trying to pass time outdoors on a nice day rather than indoors taking in more televised commentary on the virus. They were deliberate in their pursuit of exercise and fresh air and were not in a mood to stop and play.
There were lots of people as I approached downtown on the Esplanade, although they were trying to maintain a safe distance among them. Few were wearing masks or face covering, but it is still early in the epidemic and I imagine others will comply as they see their fellow citizen doing so. Everybody was on the move and nothing unusual was happening.
At the Hatch Shell I crossed Storrow Drive into Beacon Hill. From there I rode along the edge of the Public Garden and into the Common. There was a very low concentration of people distributed throughout the park. In contrast, the area across the street from the Park Street Church was occupied by thirty to forty homeless people who were guarding shopping carts carrying all of their worldly possessions, sleeping on the benches, or engaging in boisterous conversations. Social distancing is difficult in their world and I wondered how they managed to care for themselves if they got sick.
This part of the Common is one of my favorite places in Boston, but the typical flow of people was missing except for a few locals passing among the homeless who were occupying most of the park benches. The food trucks and pushcarts were also missing, one source for lunch during normal times. The people who staff the food trucks and pushcarts are also missing their source of income for the duration. The cheerful gatherings of people and tourist groups around Brewer Fountain are gone.
As I continued my ride from the Common, the streets of Boston were devoid of the usual crush of traffic and honking horns. I rode through areas that I would not usually attempt on my bicycle. Across from City Hall on Congress Street I stopped at the statue of former Boston mayor Kevin White. Someone had strapped a white face mask to his head, a reminder of the times to all who passed.
Surface Road along the Rose Kennedy Greenway was uncommonly safe for a person on a bicycle. I rode south and from there I turned left on Seaport Boulevard, my favorite route to the Seaport District and the South End because a bike path takes me well into the Seaport. I worked my way to Castle Island and Pleasure Bay where people seemed to be congregating.
The area around Castle Island been a particular problem for city health officials because crowds of people were gathering there on nice days and this was one of those nice days. The solution has been to block all curb parking around Pleasure Bay and to barricade the entrance to Castle Island. Even though there was no parking, there was a large number of people walking around the area, probably locals from Southie. I took up a position on one of the barricades to eat the lunch that I had with me. As I sat there at least ten cars drove up to the barricade and left discouraged.
After a quick lunch I also left, riding back through the Seaport, into the North End, and back to the Charles River for the bicycle trip back to my car in Bedford. I felt that hanging around trying to salvage my photo outing would break the rules of social distancing anyway. A man with a bandanna covering most of his face approaching with a camera pointing your way would be a bit intimidating. When I got home I had five or six images in my camera, none of which satisfy my standards. They are mostly the familiar scenes of empty streets that you have seen on the news. I enjoyed the ride, but miss being in the crush of people that makes street photography so much fun.