Posts Tagged ‘New York street photography’

Capturing a dog’s life in 1940s New York City

June 16, 2016

Before his days as a legendary filmmaker, Stanley Kubrick was a talented 17-year-old Bronx teenager who landed a gig as a photographer for Look magazine.

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During his five years at Look, Kubrick captured more than 15,000 poetic and powerful images of men and women, of the rich and the poor, all navigating life amid the beauty and tragedy of postwar New York.

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In the late 1940s, he was put on what probably seemed like a frivolous assignment at the time: a story eventually called “A Dog’s Life in the Big City.”

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The article “remains a surprisingly interesting social study” of what day-to-day life was like mainly for the pooches of the city’s “idle rich,” as one Kubrick biography stated.

Looking at these photos almost 70 years later, it seems that today’s upper-class pet parents spoiled their canines in the more elegant and formal late 1940s the same way they do today.

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The first photo shows a little guy relaxing in front of a bakery while his owner reads the paper. Next, a doorman is tasked with walking a boxer.

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The third image is captioned, “In the checkroom of New York’s smart 21 Club, four poodles, an Afghan and a camera-conscious Bedlington are cared for while their mistresses lunch.” What was this woman paid for that job?

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Pampered Afghans went for a ride in a convertible. Two lucky pooches got treats from the neighborhood butcher.

And homeless dogs ended up at institution-like shelters, seen here. “A lost mutt finds friends who take him to the ASPCA shelter,” the caption reads.

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“If owner does not claim him, he will be offered for adoption on payment of license fee.”

[All photos and others from Kubrick’s incredible body of work: MCNY Collections Portal]

Santa has been spotted all over Manhattan

December 21, 2015

Santa Claus has come to town many times, and he’s hung out in some unlikely places.

Here’s proof, courtesy of New York’s street photographers. They always capture the weirdness and whimsy of the city…like the time Santa was waiting on the platform at Bleecker Street train in 1976 [Photographer: Richard Kalvar]

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In 1982, Santa was caught poking around Central Park, across the street from the Plaza Hotel. Hopefully he wasn’t lost. [Photographer: Raymond Depardon]

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1968 was a tumultuous year of political and social upheaval, which might explain why he stopped off at this bar (with color TV!) next to a pastry shop. Even Santa needs a little nip now and then. [Photographer: Bruce Gilden]

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Back when the Bowery had actual bums in 1977, Santa spent some time cheering up the down-and-out guys who made their home there. That garbage can probably held a nice warm fire. [Photographer: Susan Meisales]

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Here he is in 1962, refueling at the coffee shop in a Woolworth’s, in a window seat at a booth with a formica counter. It might be Christmas Eve, so he’s in for a long night. [Photographer: unknown]

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The bold street photography of Gordon Parks

September 24, 2012

Born in 1912, Gordon Parks excelled as a fashion photographer, composer, screenwriter, and director (he helmed the 1971 classic Shaft).

But it’s arguably his street portraits that really resonate—like the one above, “A Woman and Her Dog in Harlem New York 1943” and below, “Harlem Neighborhood, New York City” (1952).

Impressed by photos of migrant workers he saw when he was in his 20s, Parks bought a second-hand camera, taught himself to shoot, and soon set up a business doing portraits in Chicago.

He became one of the most prominent photographers of the 20th century, depicting workers and servicemen for government agencies, doing fashion spreads for Vogue, and chronicling race relations and the Civil Rights movement on staff at Life magazine.

Below: “Three Boys Who Live in the Harlem Area,” 1943

His ordinary images of the men, women, and children of Harlem and other city neighborhoods still pack an emotional punch. They freeze in time moments of triumph, uncertainty, and loneliness.

Above: Fulton Fish Market, 1943

Two current exhibits celebrate Parks: one at the International Center for Photography and the other at Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.

“Kids With Laundry” on a tenement block

August 16, 2012

Photographer Helen Levitt, who spent seven decades capturing private, tender moments on city streets, chronicles a group of kids improvising with a cart of laundry in 1972.

Levitt lived on East 13th Street until her death in 2009, and it’s certainly possible this photo depicts an East Village or Lower East Side block.

“Ms. Levitt is best known for deeply sympathetic yet unflinchingly gritty pictures of children,” a New York Times reviewer wrote in 2005. The old, lonely, and outcast were also frequent subjects.

The candid street photography of Helen Levitt

March 9, 2011

Born in Bensonhurst in 1913, Helen Levitt spent seven decades capturing images of poor and working-class New Yorkers going about life’s unheralded rituals—working, eating, and observing.

And in the case of children, playing. “Levitt’s photographs of Harlem and the Lower East Side, primarily from the late 1930s through mid-1940s, were among the first to expose the inner lives of children, worlds that had only recently surfaced in American art through the spread of psychoanalysis and surrealism,” wrote Richard B. Woodward in the Wall Street Journal in 2009, shortly after her death.

“Her boys and girls immerse themselves in their roles as gangster, diva, street-corner dandy, wise guy, or holy terror with utter conviction.”

In later decades, Levitt worked in color, creating perceptive and tender portraits of ordinary people against the backdrop of a city in decline.

Publicity shy and notorious for rarely giving interviews, she lived alone in a walkup near Union Square for almost 50 years, until she died at age 95.

Her street-theater photos of New York caught off guard have been collected in many books, including the magical Slide Show, published in 2005.