In honor of
Wayne F. Miller & Eugene Richards
As a social documentary photographer my preferred method of operation was to ‘Meet on the street…shoot at the home.’ I would meet people that interested me on the street or otherwise and then set out to photograph them at their homes. Many of my best images came from this way of shooting. I would never know what I would find at their home.
‘Crazy’ ~ Los Angeles, CA 1975
‘Crazy’ was his club name. I never found out his real name. I was going to give him a copy of this photo in exchange for his letting me photograph him. But, within the week or so it took me to get it developed and printed, he had left town.
‘Captain Jim’ ~ Los Angeles, CA 1974
‘Captain Jim’ had a tattoo parlor in downtown L.A. When walking by it one night, I asked if I could shoot him. This was shot with a Hasselblad Super Wide C. I was thinking about giving up on the 4 x 5 Toyo View by this time and was testing the waters with 6 x 6.
‘Traveling Transvestite’ ~ Hollywood, CA 1974
‘Pensioner Skid Row’ Los Angeles, CA 1974
He was an old railroad worker. His kitchen was a hotplate in front of him and he cooked rice and beans or soup as he looked out his window. He lived in a cold water flat with the bathroom down the hall. I saw him in the open window looking down at me on the street. So I yelled up to him and asked if I could photograph him. He agreed and I got my pix.
‘Gypsy Woman’ ~ Hollywood, CA 1973
Back in the stone age, our cameras used mechanical shutters. They worked like a clock work mechanism and made a buzzing sound. The longer the exposure, the longer the buzzing. Every time I shot off an exposure, the dog would move its head to look for the noise.
‘Jenny’ ~ Los Angeles, CA 1972
‘Burt’s Devotee’ ~ Los Angeles, CA 1974
This is not a staged photograph. Everything is as exactly as shown. In this case, I just asked him why he liked Burt Reynolds so much. He showed me…I shot it.
‘Stripper on Rooftop’ ~ Hollywood, CA 1974
It was too hot and cramped in the apartment, so we went on the roof.
‘Christmas’ ~ Hollywood, CA 1971
‘Sylvia Haskins’ ~ South Los Angeles, CA 1972
A cleaning woman at home.
‘Babs’ ~ Hollywood, CA 1974
Barbara LeMay aka Sam Leslie Hoover aka ‘Glamazon’ (April 5, 1930 ~ 1992)
‘Hakenkreuz in a Dress’ ~ Los Angeles, CA 1973
An American Nazi in her bedroom…photograph is not staged. I have to mention this disclaimer once in a while. The poor photogs on the photo forums think I stage these. They can’t conceive of anything like this unless it is all contrived.
‘Captain of Wall Street 90014’ Los Angeles
I met the Captain on Wall Street in downtown L.A. 40 years ago. We talked for a while and I asked if I could photograph him in his room. He agreed, so we went up to his cold water flat that was painted with a green jungle scene. He was an old merchant marine and had been all around the world. He had a shrunken head hanging in the window. Can you imagine trying to get a shrunken head past customs nowadays?
‘Vietnam Vet ~ Los Angeles, CA 1974
‘Christmas in Compton’ ~ Compton, CA 1972
‘The Sunlit Slipper’ ~ Los Angeles, CA 1973
‘Final Inspection Before a Date’ ~ Hollywood, CA 1975
‘The Barroom Madonna’ ~ Los Angeles, CA 1974
‘Joe’ ~ Hollywood, CA 1974
‘Ann on Her Waterbed’ ~ Los Angeles, CA 1973
‘His Perfect Woman’ ~ Hollywood, CA 1974
‘Jennifur’ ~ Los Angeles, CA 1974
Many people have to make their home on the street. This fellow died 40+ years ago. Let me honor his memory here…
‘Tramp with White Fingernails in the Style of Daido Moriyama’ ~ Los Angeles, CA 1971
Back in the 70’s photography was esoteric…now a toddler can do it…even a monkey can do it! I still approach people to let me into their houses to document them, but I very, very seldom get any takers. In 2016 they project that 2 billion cell phone cams will be in operation. Nowadays everyone has a cell phone cam and a $29 inkjet printer from Wal-Mart. I’m effectively shut down. They are self-sufficient and don’t need me.
The other day I approached a person with an offer to let me make a book about them. They pulled out their cell phone and showed me some pix. They said they had 25,000+ followers on Tumblr…why would they need me?
Well, in 2015 that is just how it is. I suspect as long as the electric is on, things wont change. But, even with no in-house access from prospects, I still have 2-3 years of image files that I have never even looked at. That is the blessing and curse of digital street photography. You never run out of subjects and digital allows for almost limitless prolificity.
BTW…my backlog of work is not some harebrained scheme to let them marinate a la’ Eric Kim style. I just don’t have the time to look at them.
Cartier-Bresson on the subject or marinating photos… “
Yes…Yes…Yes…photography is like that and there’s no maybes. All the maybes go to the trash. There is a tremendous enjoyment in saying yes, even if it is for something you hate. It is an affirmation…Yes!” .