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Image by Ed Yourdon
I first spotted this woman sitting on a bench in Verdi Square a few weeks ago (click here to see it), and because of her suitcases, simply assumed that she was a slightly confused tourist trying to figure out how to navigate the NYC subway system.

About a week later, I saw her in the same park, with the same suitcases, but curled up and asleep on one of the benches (click here to see it); so I decided at that point she was homeless.

To my surprise, she appeared again today in a completely different location: sitting on a bench, writing something in a notebook, on one of the walkways along the edge of Riverside Park — on 77th Street, just off Riverside Drive. So now I don’t know what to think…

In any case, it certainly does illustrate the old saying that the 8 million inhabitants of NYC have 8 million different stories to tell. I wonder if anyone else knows what her story is…
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This is part of an evolving photo-project, which will probably continue throughout the summer of 2008, and perhaps beyond: 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.

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.

For the most part, I’ve deliberately avoided photographing bums, drunks, drunks, and crazy 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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