I’ve had a wide variety of work experience before I started pursuing my painting career which didn’t begin until I moved to Vermont in 1992. While a young graduate, I wanted a more immediate result with my work, as well as paying my rent. The somber life of a painter was not for me, at least not yet. I needed to get out and move around. An introvert by nature, photographing people in NYC as they made their way to work each day was an area of interest to me and forced me to understand myself and set some goals as to what kind of job I should be working towards. The camera felt like power. A little power in a big city never hurt anyone. So I began working for a local community newspaper where I could use my photography to help tell peoples stories. I got paid per photo as a freelance. If the major dailies liked our stories, they would give me call and buy my photos. The Dailey News and the now extinct Newsday would do this and they paid a little better at $75.00 per photo plus the Dailey News would throw a few rolls of film in when I delivered the shots.
I took a staff position with a small community newspaper called Greenline for The Saint Nicholas Neighborhood Preservation Corporation (St. Nicks for short). St Nicks offered an interesting and diverse array of programs in addition to the monthly paper. It serviced a designated area in this section of Brooklyn with programs helping low income renters become home owners, helping small business grow in its industrial sections and acted as a kind of downtown chamber for small retail businesses, like mom and pop kind of shops that sprinkled the avenues. It was a mix of industrial, small business and dense residential pockets of ethnic neighborhoods. Italian, African American and Puerto Rican neighborhoods in the immediate areas with Polish and Hasidic in outer reaches. Oh yeah, the artists. Lots of artists who lived in some very interesting industrial spaces. Artists were getting squeezed out of the lower east side of Manhatten and coming over the Williamsburg bridge. Rent was cheap and the spaces were huge. The artists were living in industrial places that were desolate and remote from subways so I think no one minded. But things may have changed since I last was there, I’m sure.
My work at St. Nicks was like being part of a bigger picture and I think that was good for me. I worked with wonderful people and an organization that helped to empower people in so many ways take control and navigate for themselves within a large metropolis. The small neighborhoods of NYC are so rich with character, I found all this enticing to photograph so I continued to photograph in the streets on my way to and from work on my daily subway rides.
Freelancing was fun but still wasn’t enough to pay the bills. So I worked in several commercial printing houses where I became a custom color printer. We had to work fast and color correct by eyesight using filters by Kodak. I printed lots of advertising related materials for use in the advertising industry and larger prints that were used for subways, taxi cabs and bus stop shelters. I learned to print in two ways, additive and subtractive. From negatives which were mostly made from 4″ x 5″ slides or on cibachrome paper which was made direct from the slide.
NYC is the center of the ad world and just about any and all available space has something hanging up. The streets are in and of itself art, theater and music.
These two pictures shown below that I took on the subway express the weekday and weekend moods of living in NYC. The woman holding the pole after a long days work versus the Sunday afternoon relaxed feeling that you see as children play around the subway pole.