Tag Archives: Streetshooter

September 22, 2016 … The Things in Me Head, I find on the Street … Ricoh GRII


….it’s true, it’s true I tellya. I have all these’s thoughts and feelin’s in me head and then I go out with my camera and the start to manifest out there on dem streets. That’s what I’m doing ya know, out there trying to find what’s locked up inside and find it outside. That’s my story and I’m sticking wit it, what’s yer excuse? See, it ain’t so crazy, this photo hunting process. I mean if your the kinda person that thinks, or maybe feels things, well maybe it’s a good thing to be a photographer. Ya don’t want to keep all that stuff inside ya and not share it right?

Here in Philly today, they made it the first day of fall. I much prefer to call it Autumn. The light just comes in at an angle that excites me. Of course that means the shadows do the same thing but opposite. I start to see all these things in the light and in the shadow and it’s not easy for me to just walk on by. I am compelled to find a photo. Well, maybe more then that, I am compelled to find my photo. I mean I need to be amazed or surprised by the new reality. The shot above does that for me. It shows me something different from the reality that gave it birth. Now it’s true that this happens with every single photo that was ever born once we realize the complexity of the very existence of photos. That in itself doesn’t bother me at all as I understand things photographically.


What gets me is that I see or feel these things in reality before I make the photo. So, what is going on out there, no, what is going on in me, no, what is going on in me that makes a photo from out there, that becomes the reality of what I felt or saw? I was walking on Market going East and as I approached the Marriott, I was just passing Star-bucks, well, I see this woman holding a coffe and I turn into the alcove to see what’t there. As I approach her, she doesn’t even look at me. First thought is, I’m nothing in all existence for her. Eh, dunno and don’t care. I see the light from the street and it has that over exposed glow I crave, Then she moves to the exact spot and …. CLICK!


There’s something about Public Transportation that I absolutely love. All forms and all places. People react in many different ways as they travel form point to point. I, as a shooter like to tune into these reactions and make and record my own. Usually we are in a confined space and that in itself sets up some conditions that effect everyone and me as the shooter. It’s like I’m at a stage show and all the people are actors doing their role in the play. There’s really no need for a director but as the cameraman, I get to choose lens and camera and how to work it all with the lighting. That guy a few years ago named Shakespeare, he invented the world as a stage and we are merely players. He kinda set the scene for all of us to see the world that way.

So I was looking out my window and my camera was in it’s belt case. It was Mom the Ricoh GRII. I saw a train approaching on the other track and had  feeling tho bring her our to do her thing. Now, my train is stopped and the other is actually going backwards of mine. I know, I know, I don’t get it either. So, I hold Mom and all the sudden, I see this woman and the light……CLICK!



The same thing happened here, same act, different player…….

Be blessed all… seey’s soon

The Heat is ON!


Ohhh, yes’m, it’s hotter then ummm well, …. not as  hot as when the political devils arrive Monday. Let me back up a little. See, I had Serendipity the Oly Pen F and the 12mm with me. She likes to make me work and sometimes, I don’t mind going above and beyond. Any way, I got her freshly cleaned and her lens was sparkling. We got to the Frankford Transportation Terminal and truthfully, it’s one of my favorite places to work. As we started on the escalator, I noticed the magic Dream Catcher Light glowing to me.  I thought, geeze, I’ve made a number of photos here and …. a voice in me tired head. ….shooter, make the damn photo. Whenever you want to make a photo, I am always ready. Now I want one, your turn to anty up.

Look friends. I know this may seem weird to you for me to be talking with my camera… I get it but really, Serendipity and I really wonder why some of youse don’t.

EUREKA! … another voice, see, as I put the camera to my eye, the woman on the escalator turns to me and CLICK! I’m too damn old to be sliding down the railing and also to run backwards on this thing. I see here looking at me, her gaze is intensified.  Maybe she’s a Ninja Warrior, or maybe she’s a boxer or maybe she’s just got done fighting with her hubby and I’m about to catch shit and hell …but… I stand at the ready and as I approach the top….she says…..

Mister, can I see the picture you made of me.

Well, I am flattered and I say to her…. you can see it but it’s like a cake… all the ingredients are they but it’s not baked. She looks and smiles. (See, I pay the Angel of Love and Mercy to keep an eye on me sometimes and this is one of those times.) She was totally unarmed and I knew it was cause I’m a good looking, honest shooter and she knows that now. I tell he I will send the photo to he, and I did all ready.


So I escaped the mental and physical death that falls on shooters that TAKE photos instead of MAKE photos.  I have a thing for photos that reflect what appears to be dark and perhaps they really look that way. I’m not depressed or entering a state of depression. Just because I curl up in the closet in the basement and stay the in the dark for a few weeks, means not that I am depressed. This is not to be taking that depression is not a serious condition. I am merely explaining that my photos aren’t depressing….. are they, really tell me, be honest.

What the hell do you know anyway. Hey, who is you, huh?


I’m gonna be groovin’ on the convention shit for a week. Actually always have been and always will but this is the time for …well, I haven’t figured that out yet….I just know that I disagree about how the political system works.

Well, I started using the Oly Pen F with the 12mm (24mm FOV) and I must say, it’s way different but makes me see and think again. Polly, a Doctor friend of mine and I guess student, has many nice, actually very nice cameras. She asked me how to motivate her vision and I explained….. use 1 camera/lens combo for 4 days and regardless of what you get, switch to another camera on the 5th day. The idea is that a camera and lens combo will have an effect on what you do with photography. There are times that we need to stir the creative juices and this is a good way to do that.

Many say that there exist a drought that creative energy gets caught into. I kinda think, if there’s a drought, there must have been water there at some point and I’d rather struggle to find the water then sit there and dry up.


Well, I have this new blog to learn and I guess this weekend will be the time to do that.

If ya’s have any suggestions, let me know……

Have a blessed weekend…..



Streets During the DNC


Philadelphia, 2005

The more things change, the more they stay the same. I’m not a hero of the streets. I’m not a critic of social injustices or inequalities. I’m an observer. An observer with a camera and I damn sure know how to use it.  I also have no issues chatting with anyone at all. Why mention this, well the DNC (Democratic National Convention is coming to Philadelphia. So there are workers putting caulk in the cracks on the pavement. I have hit a bump for over 20 years and it’s always been there. Now they ruined it by fixing it. I talked to a few homeless people and they are being carted off to some place to get a shower, fed and a bed to rest for a few daze and not because anyone gives a flying fuck about them, they just don’t want the politicians to see what they are accountable for but are too busy to do anything but make money.


The general mood on the streets is this is a big show for that 1% group that Hillary is always talking about that takes all the money from the 99%. I thought she was a 1%-er. Imagine that. The workers are cleaning windows in all the Market Street places. It will be very clean and easy to see what the politicians want to hide from but still look like they are our candidate and they are concerned.


I don’t mean to ramble and bitch about the politicians and the system. Fuck that shit. Damn right I d0. I’ think it’s a damn disgrace that someone can spend millions of dollars and have millions replenished by supporters and so many go without a meal. I ain’t going up to a home or car… I know countless people that can’t afford a meal.



I see it like this. Things aren’t going to change. We as people have a duty to other people to at least recognize  the struggles of each other. No, we can’t count on the system to help but we can say high to each other on the streets as a sign of solidarity. As long as we think that we are the 99% group, we will be that and it will never change.

What’s this have to do with photography? Well, it’s the subject matter that counts. You either see it or you don’t.

That works for many and most but the streetshooters are the poets of our world and they aren’t satisfied just seeing it….


Rest Easy Post



So, I’m the sneaky streetshooter with my fancy dancy Pen F and the screen tilted. I’m like I Spy for sure. No one  would ever know that I’m making a photo of them. Then at the top of the Escalator, there is a guy looking at me with intent. I aim the camera and no one, not even the CIA can tell what I’m doing. This guy can. He smiles, actually laffs at me…. cool, he made me. I need to be reset back at the factory. Turns out he took the Streetshooter, no on can make a photo of me without me knowing it course. This is available at your local beverage store.

It’s not all gloom out there. There are still signs  of life on the street. (“The world around you, never catches up to you”)….(“Share a little joke with the world”) Both quotes from Jefferson Airplane….The point is, that we need to be observant of our vision and our feelings. The photos are out there if you are open to them. People are out there too and we need to be open to them more then anything else.


I was at lunch with William Thatcher Dowell and we were talking about everything we wanted to. Youse will all meet him in a few issues.I hadn’t had a beer in months and decided that this was the moment. So the waitress asked me what beer I wanted and she started naming brands that my daughter and son would know but not me. I looked her dead in the eyes, with a look of knowledge and I said, BUD. She put the bottle on the table and I picked it up and took a long swig. Ice cold BUD. All American beer. I put the bottle down and saw the label.

Serendipity was shaking on my shoulder and telling me to make a photo. Oh yeah, youin’s probably forgot, Serendipity is my Olympus Pen F. We had the 14mm, (28mm) on and I got her into position and we framed and made the photo. After I left, I thought about the photo and decided I made a mistake leaving the bottle. So, I will start the journey of finding the America Bud bottle. I guess I’ll have to go to many bars, clubs and pubs. Of course I’ll have to taste the offerings on a hot summer day. All those High Falutin Beers that all a everybody drinks but me cause I ain’t the fancy dancy shooter. Well, less’n I make a connection with a guy that that sees me making a photo that I thought no one could tell…..

I’m on the streets tomorrow and promise a better post…..


Missing Edmund Bacon


There is an elegance to breathing. It’s the one thing that keeps us above ground. It’s the common denominator to all human beings, even those that may not be as human as others, breathing.

There is a musician that said, “Love is the Seventh Wave”…I think his name is Sting, some Bass player or something. What he said tho, is very important because it establishes the rhythm of life. So then if there is a rhythm to life then breathing is the elegance of the living and hence, the Elegance of Life.

Well, that simple enough to digest so why am I writing this stuff now? Because photography has a rhythm to it. Making…(we doin’ need no takin; ’round here)… photos somehow has to have a rhythm to and we need to explore that. I been aware of this maybe phenomenon, for a long time and I just been going over things I learned thru my life.

I find that sometimes I feel like Coltrane, just going along with my internal rhythm and flowing. Other times I feel like  Muddy Waters and other times like Respighi.

I spent time with Edmund Bacon. We did a book together called..”Murder of the Little Stream”. Basically, it’s about how the City of Philadelphia wanted to expand the Northeast section of the city. They all smoked their cigars and sat back in leather chairs and decided that they would fill the Neshaminy Creek and PennyPack Creek. The engineers and city planners and architects and Mayor and the whole gang were convinced that was what should be done. Then they would make many, many boxes for the residents to live in. It was a plan without Rhythm or Heart.

Then riding in on his Magic Unicorn waving the Flag of Humanity, Sir Edmund Bacon smashed the door down to the dungeon where all bad and stupid people and thoughts were in hiding. . He said, open your minds, open your eyes and open your hearts and let me shine the light of history future for you.

One day Ed had a task for me. He always had a task and I always looked forward to them because I loved the guy and thought he was an Angel of Mercy on the earth. Ed said, I need a photo of an egg with the red veins in it. I didn’t want to ask why even tho I was very curious.

My wife at the time and I drove about 50 miles to a place that had such eggs. (I think they are called fertile but don’t hold me to that)…We bought a dozen eggs. I was very excited because I knew there was a good life lesson coming soon.

So we got home and I set the View Camera up. The camera was an 8×10 Deardorff named Margaret. So, my wife made a plate with a clear background and together we started making the photos. I didn’t exactly know what Ed wanted but i was sure the he would tell me what he didn’t want.

So, I shot the whole dozed eggs individually. I made silver contact prints on Azo. We went to Ed’s and we all sat down and I handed the prints to Edmund. He flipped thru the prints rather fast and I was upset but waited. Then, then the 10th print, the one I prayed was right, the 10th magical image caught Ed and I noticed a tear in his eye.

He looked at me and said, stand up Don. We both looked at the print and he told me the story how when he was a little boy, he cracked an egg open and saw the veins like this one. He starred at it and immediately know that the cities we live in are like an egg or a cell.

He explained to me that the yoke is the center of the city and thus, the center of life. The clear white was the surrounding areas and the veins are the roads and highways that transport life to all in and around the city.

He looked at me and said, I know you understand. Yes, Ed, I do.

Ed and I used to walk Market Street and I mean walk. He could walk miles without tiring.He would tell me about how he designed Market East and show me things and then he asked me, “Don, why do you make photos in Center City all the time?”.

I explained to him that Life has a rhythm and it’s not always in time with others but I feel and breathe this rhythm and it gives me life. Center City is the yolk of the egg and I live on the clear white part and I take public transportation everyday to get here like the veins in the egg.

The moral of this story, the moral of this song, is that one should never be where one does not belong. (Bob Dylan)

So I suppose the point I’m making is that, we all have a place in the world. It is your duty to your soul and your essence to discover yourself and where you belong. Your camera will do the work asked of it and make the photos you desire. …but if your not in sync, or rhythm with yourself then you can’t be with the world.

So, my friends. Don’t let things get you out of place. If you feel that maybe you don’t fit in with those around you, hat your work isn’t up to par, well…. just sit back and imagine that they are all wrong because you are your own person and you need to be right for you, if you fit in with others, good if not….. as long as you recognize you and what you do….nuff said



A Lesson I Really Learned From Minor White


Sometimes I wonder what on The Lords Green Earth am I thinking about. Maybe that’s a problem we all share.. yeah, damn right …you too. See, I kinda get on auto pilot and let my feelings and eyes do the work. Of course they are not independent of my whole, but I let them have guidance on the creative end. Also, nothing get’s the camera to work unless the mind is in it too. See, that’s the Eye, heart and mind I learned from Minor White.

From what I could take in, it was….don’t work looking for answers, but just be content with the questions your work presents to you. If you do this and don’t expect anything but more questions, you will live with your work as one and have peace thru it. If you force the issue of discovery and fight the battle for answers, you will live in turmoil and never be content with your work because you don’t know what it means to have peace.


Now I ain’t saying Minor was always right but I don’t think he was ever wrong. He further explained that there is contrast in everything we do. (later expressed as the inverse square law by me) He went on to explain that every single photo has the right to life. Every single photo is unique and it’s existence is justified by the fact that you created it. So, of course we all want and seek that special photo that we consider a Self Masterpiece. The point is, like children, not all are that special above the others. We strive for the special i,age but many are just a fragment of our life as it was when we made the photo.



I remember Seeing Paul Strand’s work countless time at the Museum. I think I mentioned this before, Ding showed me a box of Strand’s unseen works. Stuff he made but didn’t push or feel was worthy of exhibiting. Ding vowed to respect Strand’s request to never show the work to anyone. Luckily, I am no one so I saw the photos a few times. I realized back then that photography was not a labor of love as is taught. It is a way of life.




What echoed in my soul was that Paul made photos just like everyone and his well known masterpieces were what was always see. The fact that he made regular snaps, made me feel the connection to him stronger then I ever could have hoped for.

It’s like this, you go to a restaurant in Paris. Nice place, good wine excellent food. The you have to use the toilet, (I think that’s what it’s called, fee free to correct me)…you walk in and you see feet sticking out of a stall where someone is sitting doing his business.

You are taking a leak and you hear the familiar sound of gas escaping…(NE Philly it’s called a fart)… the stall door opens and out comes, in front of you a hero beyond all heroes the enigma that we call Henri’ Cartier Bresson.

You are in panic mode, I mean it’s true Bresson is a man, a man amongst shooters but a man. You think, wow, I can sit on the toilet like Bresson did…. your right.

Let me tell you something, all the world and all the planet recycles energy and love and hate. Don’t let anyone every tell you that you can’t do what Bresson did.

Do you see the hunger people have for heroes?  Vivian, Bresson, Strand, Winogrand. It’s up to you what you do with you work and your life. If in fact energy recycles over and over, maybe you are the next Hero. Maybe just maybe, you might know the next hero. Maybe just maybe you will buy a book by that hero or maybe name your camera after that hero…..

see you all tomorrow…….oh… if in fact some of youse become the next here, I want a discount on your stuff….

shooter out………end transmission……………………….


The World ain’t What Ya Want it to Be …

….but it just might be what you need….


There’s  a heck of a lot of things out there in Philly Land….The tourist are here in mega numbers. Ya know, I get a kick out of seeing what camera’s the tourist shooters use. So I’m checking out the tourist and many of them are checking me out. They are all wearing Phillie’s hats or Eagles, or USA hats and jerseys, all kinda of Americana. I usually wear a POW/MIA or Viet Nam Veteran hat so, that’s an attraction. Now as far as cameras go, they mostly have it down. I see Leica’s Film and Digital, many M-43 cameras and the most popular seems to be Sony.


I met a guy from Germany. I was making the above photo and when I turned around, this man was standing right in front of me. I think he was like 9′ tall and weighed about 500lbs. He said to me in a heavy accent, RICOH……..I said yes, GRII. He said, is good camera? I looked him square in the eyes like I was looking to the sky cause that’s how big he was. I said, Great camera. He smiled and pulled out a GRD4 and showed it to me. He said, this is Tilly. (ok, so here’s the thing. It’s a well know fact that on all the earth and other planets, if someone reads my blog, maybe they will name a camera. If they don’t, it will never happen)….so I smiled at the guy and his Ricoh GRD4 named Tilly. Ya don’t not smile to a man that eats elephants for snacks.


So he introduced himself as Horst and I said my name was Don. All the sudden, right in front of me own eyes, Horst started shrinking in height and weight. I thought to meself, meself, what’s going on. I did ya know? I couldn’t answer in a proper answer cause my Dr at the VA wasn’t in me head cause he just wasn’t.

The point is and should be well takes, is that many of our fears in life aren’t as bad or scary as we imagine them to be.



I’ve heard from many out there that they are afraid to approach people to make photos. This is common and maybe it’s something that one addresses and overcomes in time. So, that’s cool but it shouldn’t stop one from making photos other then portraits on the street or whatever.

We carry baggage with us and it’s not your tooth brush and undies either. It’s your emotional state and that is baggage that should be dealt with carefully.


Years ago, I was talking to my mom about why I make photos. She asked me as she had no clue of what I was doing any why and I answered her something like this….

I don’t want to lay on that marble slab at my  death and have THE LORD ask me why I did my life the way I did. I want to be able to say, I lived my life as I felt my heart directed me and I wouldn’t mind more time if YOU could spare me some but if not. I’m ready as I didn’t waste my life wondering what could be.

Be blessed everyone and to those worrying, I am not kinda ok and will be posting again more regularly……….

shooter out……………………………………………………………..


In Search Of Pt 1

In life, I think that we search for things to complete our identity. What I mean is, we gather and assemble things that we feel will add to us as a person. In photography, we search for the best camera we can get, maybe not afford but the best we can get. We want the best way to process our work and get the best results from it. All these things are important to our identity and we are all Brand conscious.

There are paths along the way to becoming at one with yourself that will either guide you on the journey or detract you from it. How do we know which to take, well sometimes we listen to others and maybe that’s good and maybe it’s not so good. At some point, we get confronted with ourselves and we stand naked in front of ourself and just see the gist of who and what we are or strive to be.


We can hide behind our PC’s, behind our cameras, lenses, locations, thoughts, experiences but in the end, we look at OUR work and the’s the truth of us. It seems like it should be the easiest part of being but in fact, it’s the most challenging. Checking our work is the one part of the process that we don’t get to hide behind.

Our work is our brand. Our brand is created by everything we assemble and put into the image.


There is a process of activation. We do all these things to make the photo but the most important are a few things not everyone recognizes. Eye, heart, and mind. When you  look at your work, maybe you think, Leica M9 50mm, or Ricoh GRII, or Olympus Pen F 14mm etc. Maybe you think, Light Room and Nik, many, many combinations.

What does the viewer see? Well, many will search for the Brands that are in the photo. The most sensitive viewer will seek to see and feel YOU!


The real Brand of your work, is you. Once you accept this, you stand maybe by yourself but in an uncomfortable position by yourself but, with the knowledge that you are and will continue to produce your Brand.

I have have to hit the street but will keep things going, I hope. Have a blessed day regardless of where you are….

shooter out………………………………………………………………………

The Warrior Tourist


Oh my, you can’t believe all the different cameras here in Philly. See, it’s tourist season and I’ve seen everything from…to Leica’s. It’s just amazing how many people come here and are really equipped for the trip. I look like a tourist and that’s awesome when I am seen that way. I have Serendipity the Olympus Pen F with her 28mm mounted. So, I use the tilt screen a lot and ya know, that’s a feature I didn’t care for in the beginning but now, it’s what I adore about the camera.

I was standing at the Visitor center of the Historic Park and all the sudden this Asian girl, around 25 or so walks over to me, points the camera right at me, makes a few frames and smiles and say’s thank you sir. She walked back to her friends and never even looked back.

I know a master when I see one. I wanted to bow to the street shooter master but I knew if I bowed, I wouldn’t be able to straighten up my back. I bet there’s not 27 people on Face Book that would have the guts to do what she did. Seriously! There is an innocence lost with the knowledge sought by shooters. So, I started thinking, ( yes my brain is on the job, till the weekend)…What is the real factor in how people approach other people to make  photos? Where does it get a change in definition as we become more involved with making or taking photos?


The answer I came up  with is, INTENT. No really, think about it for a little bit. Now I know about INTENT and have for many years. I am a registered intent-ologist. The girl had a specific intent and like a warrior, approached me and made the photos. She never asked me or anything, just came over and made the photos. Is it because she’s a tourist and just doesn’t know anything? I think not. I believe tourist and shooters for that matter are people first. So they bring the feelings, excitement, fears all the things with them on their journey. We as shooters do the same thing.

Maybe the real difference is in the nobility of the process. Perhaps tourist are fully aware of TAKING photos to preserve and keep memories. There isn’t much difference between the tourist and the serious shooter. The shooter MAKES photos to bring something home and to enrich a part of his/her life.

Why else would we spend large amounts of money and countless hours of energy and love to pursue the dream of excellence in our work.


I see it as the same, intent wise and also in practice. Tourist spend good money on cameras, expenses to travel, and a great amount of energy to get the prize of some photographic memories to take home and save and love and look at thru the years.

Geeze, that sounds like every shooter I know. Imagine that.

So I suppose what I have said, and lived for decades is :….

We are all tourist thru life, no one gets a permanent visa.

The ideal goal is not for the tourist to become a shooter, noooo but for the shooter to become a tourist and see with those eyes. The eyes of a young Asian girl with intent and the strength of a warrior and the heart to continue.




The Truth of the Lie


When I was younger and a real photographer I had all kinds of tools. I had a Color Meter and still have it but don’t use it. I would look at a scene and determine the color temperature with my meter and then what filter to use and how to expose the film. Color was a very mechanical process for me  and the aesthetics was secondary. Sad huh. Yup and the reason I stopped for my personal work.


Now that I’m older it’s not that I can still take color temp, it’s that I don’t care anymore I care about my work and love but as far as tweaking exposures, I’ll leave that to the younger crowd. I just wanna make photos. For me it’s aesthetics first and my interpretation of them that matters. So, what I’m dealing with is that B&W and Color are the same language. They are the same because they are photography. That gives them a common ground. So if the language is the same, where then are the differences? I believe it’s the syntax of each. Each has it’s rules and you choose to either except, reject, challenge or ignore those rules. Then when you decide what to do, you need not be stuck in the rut of repeatability. That’s right. You have the right to keep everything as flexible as you wish.


How long does an illusion have to exist and work before it becomes real? Here’s what I mean. We all know and accept that a photograph is 2 dimensional. What we perceive as depth in the image is merely an illusion. It is a mind game that we all love and feel connected too and apply freely.

Well, I wonder how long this illusion of depth has to be, before it’s not an illusion anymore? When does the illusion of depth get accepted as truth? In fact, when does a photograph get accepted as truth? We all now that a photo is a lie. So if in fact it is, where is the truth of that lie? The truth of the photo is the photo itself. There is no illusion, no link to 3 dimensions, no escaping that the photo is, it’s own lie and it’s own truth.

I don’t care to guess how many photos have been made so far up to this point. I do state that the illusion of depth is now an accepted part of the syntax that is used, now silently, in making and viewing photos. The same holds true for color vs B&W.

So, what does the shooter have to deal with in terms of doing Color vs B&W?

Stay tuned for the next post and I will share the thoughts brewing in me poor head.