I roam the streets a lot. I mean roam in the sense that together with my camera I’m always looking for that great moment when the time and effort spent in the search is rewarded by some great photographic scene. This is the case in pretty much every city I visit, but more so than most, in the area where I happen to live, which is a stone throw away from downtown Washington, DC. Looking at the thousands of photos I’ve taken over the past few years, however, has revealed some key information about my photographic taste, but more than that, about the places I seem to prefer when out with my camera. From this data, it appears that photographically speaking, my favorite place in the city is the Georgetown neighborhood. And no, it has nothing to do with the Georgetown Cupcake store, that pilgrimage destination for sugar lovers everywhere. Well, at least not entirely. Let me explain.
Georgetown could be a city in its own right. An expensive one, mind you, but kind of in the way that Rodeo Drive has its own identify that sets it apart from other places in LA. It kind of pulls you in, and for reasons that have nothing to do with the balance on your credit cards. The reason has to do with atmosphere, with je ne sais quoi, and with the undefinable vibe. Charm? Well, there’s plenty of that too. Ok, if you need to know, with endless coffee shops, slick restaurants, plenty of bars, boutiques, and great city views too. It’s all there. Toss in a never-ending parade of beautiful and disheveled people, and the unique neighborhood brew is completed. A photographer’s dream, even if most people there would rather you never photograph them. But if it is your glam side you want to strut in the city, Georgetown, with its swanky shops and riverside promenade is the place to do it. Just watch out for those sneaky photographers trying to take your picture.
One of the most interesting aspects of street photography has to be the ability to record people’s reaction to their environment. Take this scene. I stood across the street watching how people would react to this store display in the Georgetown area of Washington, DC. Invariably, women seem to turn their eyes in the direction of the store, while men showed a tendency to look away from the display. Not a scientific study by any means, but just that in a matter of 15-20 minutes some behavioral patterns appeared to be emerging. From a photographic point of view, this sort of impromptu observation is quite relevant. It allows you to predict how people will most likely behave when they reach a particular point in your field of view. Call it seeing the photograph before it happens, or whatever. It all boils down to waiting for the right moment and subject to come along.
In one of the coldest days of the year in Washington, DC I ventured into town to see whether there were any brave souls willing to challenge the bone-chilling temperatures from the previous couple of days. After all, this is a city where a mere one-inch of snow pretty much shuts down the entire metro area (OK, any excuse to leave work is good enough, but still). To my surprise, while most of the crowds were huddled inside the museums along Constitution Avenue, true fashionistas were out in force, proving that even when your fingers are turning black from the impending frostbite, it is still possible to look good. Of course, this seemed to apply mostly to to a certain age group (see the photo above). For those in my age group (no, I’m not telling), quadruple layering was the order of the day. Patagonia on the first layer, REI on the second, 300-thread fleece on the third, and a windbreaker on the fourth. Oh, and I almost forgot about that fashion statement thing. Simple: there was none.