Streets of Philadelphia … A Visual Diary … Page 24 … Street … Beating Complacency … Fuji X100s


Ok, if youse didn’t know this, I might just coulda be just a little bit but not over the edge crazy. That’s what my shrink at the VA says. Ya gotta know something about shrinks. They gotta be crazy too otherwise they can’t see their patients craziness. Why did I mention this on a photo blog? Well, it’s about how I’m feeling about what’s going on and what’s going on in my camera cabinet. When I was younger I was in a monogamous relationship with my Leica M cameras. That statement in itself is a contradiction of terms. The reason is that I had and used more then a few Leica M’s.


Flash to the present and I am no longer in a monogamous camera relationship. Yes, it’s true. I cheat on my cameras all the time. The only one that I don’t feel like I’m cheating with is Andre’ the Fuji X100s. See, Andre’ soothes my soul when we are together. He is very responsive to me and my needs. Unfortunately, Walker the Olympus Pen EP-5 does the same thing, but different. And Garry the Olympus Pen EP-5 does the same too. So my my confusion?

I spent decades using my M camera and most times a 35mm Cron or Lux.

So here’s why I’m writing this blog post. It seems to me that what happens to many and not discounting me, as I am the worst of the lot is: there are time that I get kinda lost in the moment. I mean that I’m a nutcase that walks the same general region over and over day after day. So I sometimes find it hard to find my next photo. Ohhh, I know what to do. Take a different lens or camera and everything changes. Cool beans.


Well surprise, surprise. Seems the only things that changed is the camera or lens. Imagine that. So maybe the subject matter changes slightly and the environment also but how does that affect the feelings and the vision? I don’t think the camera or lens will have much impact on this at all. I think it’s about the frame of mind and the opening of the eye, heart and mind to make adjustments. The camera can assist in this but it’s up to us to take control of the wheel.



I know this may sound simplistic and boring but the single most thing shooters fight all the time is what realtors live by also. Location, location, location. It’s the search to end the doldrums of shooting the same area all the time. Some say, look as if your seeing it for the first time. Bullshit, ain’t gonna happen. We aren’t talking about traveling, we are talking about working on the homefront.


My Uncle Birney showed me something many years ago. He had a tree in front of his house, small Japanese Maple. He told me he would bury a million dollars right near that tree and it was mine except one condition. If I looked at the tree and only saw that, I could have the money. Then Birney told me that there is a teddy bear in front of that tree. He told me that every time I looked at that tree I would see the teddy bear. I couldn’t get the money if I didn’t see just the tree. If I saw the bear, it was a dead end.

Well, for years I would be at his house and every damn time I looked at that tree, I would see that stupid teddy bear. I think that’s about mental conditioning. Maybe when we are out on the street, we are programmed to see that teddy bear.



So the idea is not to think that our programming can be altered or changed by a camera or even a different location. The hard part of seeing and living is to be able to do it in the most common of places, our home ground. Here’s in NE Philly we call that being Complacent. As my daughter Bethany says, “It’s not alright”.

The above photos are all made in the area known here as Market East. It’s an area that I have been working for over 40 years. It’s harder and harder for me to get photos that I like because that stupid teddy bear keeps jumping in front of my camera.

I fight that damn Teddy Bear on a daily babsis. Do you know your Teddy Bear and are you fighting it?

……end transmission…..


15 thoughts on “Streets of Philadelphia … A Visual Diary … Page 24 … Street … Beating Complacency … Fuji X100s”

  1. The paragraph about walking the same areas and expecting a different result just because you changed cameras is so me. Sometimes I come back from a day of shooting and I feel so grumpy because everything feels the same. It’s true that you can’t force yourself to see something that you see everyday as if you’re seeing it for the first time. It really is about your frame of mind. You have to psych yourself up to think that today is the day that something interesting will happen, or at least photo worthy. Great post, Don!

    1. Tina, I know you’re a young lady filled with enthusiasm amd level headed clear vision. I appreciate you supporting me and making me feel not so …. something, my teddy bear is blocking my mind…..

      Thanks Tina……

  2. Don, you might try different lenses. Different focal lengths and apertures would force you to look differently. Saul Leiter walked the same area for 40+ years focusing the same streets of New York but I think he shifted lenses a few times. At one time he was shooting with a 150 mm lens.

    1. John, thanks for replying. You actually reinforced my post. I have cameras and lenses to work with. That feeds the insides of the situation. I think it better to adjust the frame of mind and the way we pre-conceive our surroundings. Cameras can’t change what’s out there and how we see and respond to it. So someplace in each of us is a middle ground that when we hang out on it, we come to recognize the displacement of what we are going after.
      It’s not and either or situation. It’s the ability to detach from what we think and what we want out there and just be at one out there.
      Hopefully you have a camera with you during this time….

  3. Bullseye, many thanks Don! Jeez … I’m tryin’ … But kicking that teddy bear’s real tough, like trying to find news in “seen-it-already-a-million-times”, kinda like in the Groundhog Day movie. And I’d gotten rid of all my gear ‘cept my X100T, so no “options” to hide behind either! For me “abstraction” seems to work (kind of, at least …): capture only part(s) of it & let the viewer imagine the rest, what d’you think? Many thanks & warm regards, Hendrik
    PS please have a look also on 500px, many thanks!

    1. Hendrik, The teddy bear situation eventually grabs us all. My Teddy Bear has a teddy bear in front of it. Usually I find that in order to get around any blocks that stop or slow me down, I try to go around them and find another way to get past them. Going straight ahead is like riding a bicycle directly into a brick wall. You can’t win.

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