This past weekend I attended a New York City Bridges Photography Workshop with Loren Fisher and a group of photographers from New York City, New Jersey and Connecticut. The New Jersey group met at the Bridgewater Train Station. Loren drove to Penn Station where we picked a photographer from Weehawken, then we zipped over to Grand Central Staton to pickup photographers from Greenwich and Manhattan.

Our first stop was in Fort Washington Park where our group photographed the George Washington Bridge GWB and The Little Red Lighthouse under the watchful eye of a Port Authority guard who insisted that we exclude the east support pillar in any of our photographs. Just to be sure we behaved, an NYC police patrol car was on the scene. Fort Washington Park runs along a section of the of the Hudson River from 72nd Street to 158th street.

Under construction from 1927-1932 by Swiss engineer, Othmar Ammann, the 1,450 m GWB is a double-decked suspension bridge spanning the Hudson River. The bridge connects the Washington Heights neighbourhood of Manhattan with the borough of Fort Lee in New Jersey. The GWB has 8 lanes on the upper deck with 6 lanes on the lower deck and transport over 103 million vehicles per year between.

George Washington Bridge and The Little Red Lighthouse — FujiFilm X-T2 + Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (16 mm, f/6.4, ISO200), Copyright 2019-01-12 Khürt L. Williams

The forty foot Little Red Lighthouse was originally built as the North Hook Beacon at Sandy Hook, New Jersey, where it stood until 1917 when it became obsolete. The Lighthouse was moved to its current location in 1921 by the United States Coast Guard as part of a project to improve Hudson River navigational aids, and originally had a battery-powered lamp and a fog bell. It was operated by a part-time lighthouse keeper. In 1948, the lighthouse was decommissioned by the Coast Guard. The lights from the George Washington Bridge provided better lighting.

George Washington Bridge and The Little Red Lighthouse — FujiFilm X-T2 + Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (30.2 mm, f/8.0, ISO200), Copyright 2019-01-12 Khürt L. Williams

40° 51.09 N -73° 57.126 W
 

Last weekend I walked through Van Horne Park looking for interesting things to photograph. I normally visit the park in the spring and summer. I thought that perhaps it would be different in the winter.

Van Horne Park spans Rocky Hill and Montgomery Township and features walking trails, baseball and soccer fields, and two large climbing structures for children. The park is accessible from Route 1 via the Princeton North Shopping Center. I chose to enter via the gate on Princeton Avenue.

Stepping from the car, a harsh cold wind blew mercilessly against my face. I could feel it penetrate my long wool coat. I stopped to photograph the grasses and brush.

Van Horne Park — FujiFilm X-T2 + Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (16 mm, f/5.6, ISO400), Copyright 2019-01-06 Khurt-Williams
Van Horne Park — FujiFilm X-T2 + Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (53.3 mm, f/5.6, ISO400), Copyright 2019-01-06 Khurt-Williams
Van Horne Park — FujiFilm X-T2 + Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (51.6 mm, f/5.6, ISO400), Copyright 2019-01-06 Khurt-Williams

Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, it is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy that we can scarcely mark their progress., Charles Dickens

Van Horne Park — FujiFilm X-T2 + Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (55 mm, f/4.0, ISO400), Copyright 2019-01-06 Khurt-Williams
Van Horne Park — FujiFilm X-T2 + Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (55 mm, f/4.0, ISO400), Copyright 2019-01-06 Khurt-Williams

When the cold was too severe, I walked around the pathway hoping that the movement would warm me. Along the path, I saw a sign that the park was not maintained over the winter and that I should use at my own risk. I could see the wind agitate the top of water puddles. I turned my back on the wind and captured some images of the farmhouse in the distance.

Van Horne Park — FujiFilm X-T2 + Fujifilm XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR @ (55 mm, f/8.0, ISO400), Copyright 2019-01-06 Khurt-Williams

When I had had enough, I briskly walked back to my car. It was time to go home to the gentle warm caress of my fireplace.

40° 23.856 N -74° 38.816 W
 

After having lunch1 with Michael at PJ’s Pancake House I took a leisurely route through Rockingham and Rocky Hill toward home. My mind started to think about the images I had captured and drifted to thinking about street photography.

Is street photography still street photography if the principles are practised indoors? Let’s take a look at what James Maher wrote about street photography.

Street photography at its essence means candid photography of people and humanity. A street photograph has to be a real, unposed moment. However, the term itself is inherently unclear and clunky. For instance, a person does not have to be in a photo for it to be considered a street photograph. Trying to define street photography is almost like trying to define what sweet or salty is. You can’t fully describe it, but you know it when you see it.

I took note that Maher’s definition does not mention the word street until the second sentence. However, he does admit the term itself is vague. If street photography is meant to show the photographer’s subjective view of the world can that goal be accomplished inside a mall or other building? What if I removed the street from the equation but focus on all the other aspects of that type of photography; i.e. candid photography of people and humanity?

He goes on to write:

There are hints, feelings, ideas, stories, or questions. These photos are meant to prompt the viewer. Whether street photography depicts reality or not can be disputed, but I would argue that it depicts the reality of the photographer.

I started thinking about this because Skillman does not have a downtown, a street where people walk about their daily lives. Hopewell and Princeton have a walkable downtown, but Skillman, Hillsborough, West Windsor, South Brunswick, North Brunswick, and Plainsboro do not. This morning and this afternoon after taking photos of customers, I looked at the results and it occurred to me that they had elements of street photography.

Who are these people? What is the relationship? What are they talking about? Then the fears kicked in.

What if they see me taking this photo? Would they be upset? Would they complain to the manager? Would I be asked to leave?

What do you think? What do you call photography that many of the elements of street photography but is not which is not conducted on a street and has no walking around?


  1. I had two eggs with several strips of bacon. And lots of unsweetened ice tea. 

40° 22.538 N -74° 36.823 W