Visiting nurse
Laptop Battery

Image by Ed Yourdon
Note: this photo was published in a Feb 23, 2010 "Nursing Notes" blog titled "New York, New Jersey Educators Debate Bsn In 10 Bills." It was also published in a Nov 9, 2011 blog titled "40 Best Job Sites for CNA’s."

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This was taken just outside the subway entrance at 72nd Street & Broadway, in Verdi Square. At first, I thought this woman was a computer-artist, using a graphics pen to sketch something on an IBM Thinkpad laptop (that’s what the computer is, as you can tell from the logo on the top left corner of the back-panel).

However, when I was able to crop-down and blow-up the image, I saw that she works for the Visiting Nurse Service of New York … so maybe she was doing some kind of data-entry input, after finishing up a visit to a patient in the neighborhood … if nothing else, it tells you that there are a lot of complex lives and lifestyles in this city, many of which we never learn anything about …

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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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