New York Daily Photo Analytics

Friday, March 25, 2011

Front Window


One of the worst living scenarios in New York City is an apartment on a ground floor. I lived for a couple years like this in Chelsea on 23rd Street - there was zero privacy unless you kept your shades drawn. It was like living on stage in the spotlight. I had instances where passersby would try to talk to me. On one occasion, I was propositioned by someone sexually.

I can understand the impulse to peer into the windows of others. It is very difficult to avoid at least a casual glance into an apartment where people and contents are visible from the street. At night, strolling residential streets with illuminated interiors is akin to walking the corridors of a museum, except here, the displays are not of things from times past, but of real people and real lives - a living laboratory.

On April 29, 2009, I wrote a story, Rear Window, inspired by the Hitchcock classic film of the same name. However, I don't have a rear window in my home. I have front windows to the street and I am blessed with park views. I have featured vistas from these windows in various seasons - see White By Design 2, Wood Glass Brass and Trees, Signs of Summer, and Enchanted April. But these windows rarely provide me with photo opportunities other than nature shots. Observing the people and places in the city that are worthy of reading and writing about requires walking the streets, riding the trains, visiting structures, attending festivals and spending time in the parks.

I keep a camera with me at all times with no exceptions. Although a point-and-shoot camera does not always provide the ability to photograph subjects with the best quality under all conditions, I am finding more and more that many of the most interesting captures, particularly with people, are pure happenstance. Serendipity is the operative here, and better to have shot and lost quality than not to have shot at all. I still talk of my regret over some terrific lost opportunities - some because I had no camera, others because I was not decisive enough, considering whether something was worthy or waiting for better conditions.

Regarding today's photo, this was a real shocker to me. I caught this woman sitting behind the window in Starbucks while I was walking on 6th Avenue in the Village. I am at a loss as to the reason for a display of extreme matching: luggage, pants, shoes, jacket and hat. I was not motivated to go in as I might normally be and learn the story behind the wardrobe. This would require that I make her acquaintance, chit chat and get the facts in a diplomatic way without any intended insult. So for today, it's just a look through a Front Window :)

12 comments:

Sérgio Pontes said...

I like this point-of-view

Leslie said...

I guess when you love a design, sometimes you REALLY love a design! I might even guess that the pattern is her own art creation, her very own personal statement. I'd even bet this matching outfit gets her a great deal of attention...Brava!

Mary P. said...

I can't believe you didn't endeavor to make her acquaintance and find out her story. You must have been in a big hurry.
She does look preoccupied, maybe that stopped you.

lucie said...

Definitely apartments on ground floor are terrible!! It's nearly as in the picture...

George said...

You thoughts behind the photograph were most interesting, and understandable. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

she looks like a street performer.

in australia we have some street performers who wear one color head-to-toe and have often painted their clothes to they match. eg: there is a man who is a street performer who is covered entirely in silver, including face and hands... others may be dressed in other colours.

these performers sometimes stand still for long periods of time, others may move about very slowly and go about doing things such as scratching their head, doing up a shoelace, etc.

it looks like this lady may be one of those street performers!

alex said...

I visited Amsterdam a few years ago and I was surprised to see that there are no shades drawn on groundfloors apartments.
I even saw on a corner of a street a place I thougth it was a shop but when I was closer, I discovered the kitchen, the living room etc.
It was very embarrassing and I left quickly...

Craig Belshaw said...

I love this city you get such characters! You should definitely have talked to her but of course if it felt intrusive I can understand why you wouldn't.
Craig Belshaw.

Ceciel said...

And you managed not to get caught in the reflections ;-)

Brian Dubé said...

Anonymous - very interesting observation. I think you are speaking of living statues. I did a story on this.

Alex- the Dutch are very open apparently.

Craig - just lazy.

Ceciel - more circumstance than plan.

renlgs303 said...

You must have seen her in the Park. She has a guitar decorated exactly the same way.

Matt said...

I work in Penn Station and this lady lives in the station, she carrys around a little can of white paint and a stick everywhere she goes.