Sometimes I see subjects in the middle of something–a conversation with someone else, or on their mobile–and I think, ‘I should just take their picture; it’ll be good for Untitled, or at the very least Tumblr-worthy.’ If I’m not quick on the draw, anything could happen: a crowd could appear and obstruct my view, their bus/taxi shows up, or in cases like these, they look up and realise I’m standing there. You might be surprised to read what I’m about to say, but I don’t get caught very often. The fact of the matter is, most people are way too wrapped up in whatever it is that they’re doing to notice things happening right near them. It’s one of the ways you can always tell a complete tourist from someone familiar with NY–tourists, while not exactly hyper-aware, at least walk around with their eyes up. Most of the Untitled/Weekenders/Tumblr photos posted to either of the Lord Ashbury blogs were taken without the subject ever knowing I was there. Which is why this past weekend was so fascinating; it happened twice!
When I spotted this young woman on Houston Street, she was leaning against that chain-link fence, texting away on her iphone. While I’m usually very quick on the draw with incognito (ninja) type shots, there was something about her that made me halt to a complete stop and stand there in front of her like an obvious idiot. Mainly, from 30 paces away she didn’t look interesting at all, but from 10 paces away, my opinion was recalibrating in a very curious way:
What did I think of her skirt? Did I underestimate the material?
That’s an interesting orange bag! What’s in it?
Why is she hiding that patterned blouse behind such a plain messenger bag?
Like the shoes/skirt combo
Should I ask if she wants to be a street style subject?
How would I frame this? Just tell her to keep standing there?
All these questions. And then, voila! She’s looking up at me as she makes her departure. On a different day, I would’ve nodded and let her walk away without incident, but then I thought, ‘Wow, my mind just did a lot of work over someone who looked so ordinary 10 seconds ago.’
Sometimes you just never know.