Thought Catalog

Portrait Of A Woman, Borough Park, Brooklyn 

This image is one that’s probably far too subtle to please an Instagram audience.  It may well be that it’s in another category altogether….one reserved for my own appreciation.  I showed this to someone who just completely missed the point of the picture, and I can see why.  But….to me this picture is a painting, my own contribution to The House Of Vermeer and one that I can pull off with my camera only, because I lack the skill to render this beautiful subject with brush and paint.  She sits, alone, in a lobby. She is on 13th Avenue, which is a busy street devoted to commerce and daily essentials nestled in the heart of the large Hasidic community in Brooklyn, apart from Williamsburg in feeling and geography.  She reads The Torah, and is isolated by virtue of her physical positioning in the picture and therefore it is difficult to get an accurate, adequate view of her.  But this is true whether she is on the street in full or here in partial.  

When I made this picture I was with my son, and this day was the first time I visited this neighborhood in approximately 27 years.  It’s the same, but different.  Little speciality stores were replaced by banks, and the distinctive food from another time was all but gone.  I found myself being regarded by many women and girls with a mixture of curiosity, resentment and distrust.  I understand why, though, and I elected not to  shoot pictures wantonly.  It’s important to have respect  and use some sensitivity in Street Photography in these circumstances…but shortly after this one was made she saw me, and hid herself in the shadows of the lobby.  Occasionally  she peered, peeking out toward the light to see if I was still looking and noticing her in this nondescript place.  I felt just a little bit guilty, but it wasn’t enough to make me give up the pursuit.  Nonentity no more, she made a strong and unforgettable impression on me.

Author: suzannesteinphoto


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