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The Art of Looking

Posted By Alex Belth On June 29, 2010 @ 8:54 am In Bags,Bronx Banter | Comments Disabled

A few weeks ago I got together with Bags, whose photographs have graced this space for more than a month now.


Bags takes pictures the old fashioned way. He uses film. Taking photographs is an excuse for him to tool around the city and look, really look at what’s around him (Bags isn’t from New York and I wonder if it takes an outsider’s sensibility to really appreciate the wonders, small and large, that our town has to offer.)

I haven’t used film in years and what I like about it is that it forces you to be selective. You can’t just snap away like you can with a digital camera, not caring how many shots you take. You have to look, carefully, before you decide to press “click.” Also, you may just miss a shot–you get the composition right, but then the classic old guy walks through the frame too quickly and you’ve lost the moment you want to capture. The possibility of this loss, makes it all the more exciting when you do get what you’re looking for.

And then there is the suspense of waiting for your pictures to come back from the lab. Oh, the agony. My feeling is that if you can get one good, I mean really good shot out of a role of 36 you should be pleased.

Anyhow, Bags and I tooled around the Upper West Side–a neighborhood he doesn’t know from–and snapped away. I haven’t gone to the lab yet, but this weekend I’m going to take more shots and then see what I’ve got. In the meantime, I’ve found myself, even without a camera in my napsack, stopping and looking. And for that alone, I am grateful.

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