1st Time I Saw Sheila On St Mark’s Place, Nighttime
Everything about her demeanor connected with me on a personal level, and, try as I might, I never really got the portrait that I had envisioned. This one comes closest, but the low light just didn’t allow me to compose or focus or set the f stop and ISO where I would have preferred. Too much backlight and her face in deep shadow as perceived by my xt-2’s sensor was too much to overcome. The color version wasn’t what I consider to be usable….very disappointing, especially when compared with what I still have in my imagination. What the image could have been and what I produced are two separate entities–something I’ll have to accept.
Life On The Street
The next day I found them on 2nd Avenue. The mood was different….still amiable, but more honest in a way that allowed me to see the truth, but in the end wound up causing the people pictured to feel what I think may have been some shame. I wish I had asked for a portrait….one young woman, with one black eye, irises a bright blue/grey, stays with me. I didn’t ask, but I wish I had. They were all high, and I just didn’t want to figure out how to negotiate that landscape on this early evening on 2nd Avenue. Getting high on Skid Row in Los Angeles is well within my experience, but these people were different…..a small group, but two women visibly damaged. One black eye and one bruised and bloody nose in a group of not more than seven people is not very encouraging.
Sheila lays, wrapped in old shirts….as I took these pictures, she shivered. She stayed this way, pointed toward 8th Street, disengaged from the people behind her. I asked if they would stay the winter….it’s way too cold in New York for homeless people and dogs. It’s likely that they’ll migrate to New Orleans….but migration and heroin addiction aren’t compatible and would require a large supply for everyone until they get settled….so I’m curious to see if they disappear sometime soon, or stay put on the icy sidewalks of Manhattan where everything and everyone necessary to facilitate addiction is within easy reach at all times.