Some thoughts while scanning
After a few months of procrastination, I finally commenced scanning my nearly thirty year collection of transparencies and film negatives.
Starting from “the beginning” I have had an opportunity to muse about what these pictures say to me now as I watch the slide show go by – carousel by carousel.
As a young amateur photographer I was not wise enough to actually put a date on each carousel box – but the older ones are pretty easy to spot – the lettering faded and a yellowing cast to the box gives the age away. My first carousel included picture I took during a “forced day off” due to a power failure in NYC in the late 1970’s.
A friend and I used this unscheduled holiday to wander about a deserted downtown Manhattan (this was in the days long before thousands of apartment units were constructed down there). And, as I scanned away, I knew I would find them – the photos that included the WTC towers. Since I was also downtown that fateful day in 2001 and was very lucky to survive – I was somewhat surprised at my rather casual reaction as I scanned these shots. Photographer’s detachment, perhaps?
As I moved on with the project I began to become fascinated with the street shots I had taken back in the late ‘70’s and early ‘80’s. I began to muse about what had become of the various people I’d photographed – something I can never really know.
For instance, while shooting up in Harlem I took a photo of a young girl on a “see saw” (i.e. “teeter totter” so some). She was about six years old then – today she’d be in her thirties. What became of her? Did she thrive despite the hard streets that characterized her neighborhood in those tougher times or did the "streets" take her over?
And what of the two pre-teen boys who I shot playing handball – catching one with both feet off the ground. Did they succumb to the drugs and mayhem of that time – or are they doctors and businessmen now?
I also found a batch of slides I shot at the San Gennaro feast that is held annually in what was once NYC’s Little Italy (it’s now mainly and Asian-American neighborhood with a growing element of gentrification). The pretty young woman selling the zeppoles would be around fifty now. How has she aged? Too, the middle-aged fellow who was dishing out the cappauchino and espresso, if he’s still alive, is an old man now – perhaps retired to Florida or Arizona?
And then there were the three elderly “grandmas” who were sitting on their lawn chairs watching the passing crowd. Almost undoubtedly they are all dead now – or else extremely ancient. I hope it’s the latter but suspect it’s the former.
I even have a couple of shots of myself – taken by a companion at the time. And I stare in wonder at this slender young man with a full head of dark hair. His is the only “story” I still know!
I have about ten more carousels to go – and wonder if, as time gets closer to the present – will they be as fascinating as these oldest shots?
Sorry for this ramble – but I needed to share these thoughts with someone.