August 17, 2009


Today I was doing errands and looked down a side street to see a huge waterspout shooting out onto the road. A half block away was the typical New York City street scene: a bunch of kids playing around an open fire hydrant. Two kids who looked to be about 11 or 13 were using a Goya juice can to aim and steer the water in whatever direction they wanted. It must have been hard to hold on to because after a minute or two, the force of the water would shoot the can across the street. Some cars would pull up to get a free wash; other cars were scared to drive through, would wait, and then suddenly speed by, windows rolled up tight. I started shooting and a well-built Hispanic kid about 16 or 17 walked up to me and asked me why I was taking pictures. I told him I live in the neighborhood and thought it was a cool scene, the kids playing with the hydrant. He walked away and I kept snapping. Another guy, about 30, walked up and said he didn't want to be in any photos. I told him he wasn't. I then glanced to my right and about 8 people were sitting on car hoods, drinking beer and watching me shoot. I crossed the street and after taking a few snaps, that 17 year old kid walked over and in a no nonsense tone said, "Let me see the pictures." I pulled my camera from around my neck, showed him the screen and clicked through the photos. He stared at each one and at one point said "go back, go back." I did, and he studied the sceen looking to see if anyone in the group could be identified. Then he said "We don't want to be in any pictures." I smiled again and said "You're not, it's the water and the hydrant." I watched him out of the corner of my eye as he walked back to the group and reported what I had said.. Something told me to leave... my spider sensors... something. It bothers me that I walked away but I didn't want to deal with a confrontation or one of them grabbing my camera and smashing it on the ground. Would a better photographer have kept shooting? Should I have stayed possibly getting a better shot? It's a constant dilemma when shooting on the street in a strange neighborhood.

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