I am not a photographer by trade but rather just guy who likes to take pictures. I use my cellphone primarily, and sometimes a small digital camera. Most of the pictures I take are cityscapes and architecture. The reason for this is because I tend to be a shy individual and pointing cameras at strangers is an art in itself.
But more than this is the fact that my work as a gardener gives me almost daily access to vantage points most are not able to enter. Much of my work takes place throughout Manhattan with occasional trips into Brooklyn and Queens. I have a deep personal interest in the history and dynamics that make up this great city, my home.
I grew up in the Bronx where taking a trip into Manhattan was always referred to as "going into the city". My guess is that this colloquialism goes back to a time when the areas that surround Manhattan were all exclusively rural with small populations and lots of dirt roads. This realization led me to understand that the city, perhaps most cities are really a kind of myth. It seems that NYC is really just a collection of small towns with no space in between. One moment you are in "Little Italy" listening to people speak Italian, the next minute you're in "Chinatown" overlooking a restaurant window with roast ducks hanging in a row. Enter a subway and take a ride to Jackson Heights in Queens and you find yourself stepping into "Little India" with women in colorful sari's, bindi's on foreheads and the unmistakable flavor of another world. Perhaps the most interesting thing about these and other unique cultures sharing a single larger environment is how all of it is tied together by the same unmistakable energy.
Some years ago, a friend and myself were walking along Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn. The sidewalk was crowded with pedestrians and vendors with tables selling books, clothes, jewelry and items that probably sat unused in closets. My friend was a former New Yorker visiting from San Francisco. She pointed out that listening to bits of passing conversation seemed to illustrate a difference between east coast and west coast priorities. She said that most exchanges back in San Francisco were concerned with what one possessed and the people one knew. In New York, the conversations were mostly about what one was doing and where one was going. I like to think this somewhat explains the culture that makes the city unique. If true then this may help explain one reason for NYC's reputation as being fast paced, otherwise known as things happening "in a New York minute".
My own activity bears this out. The majority of my street photos happen during traveling moments between clients. Sometimes I travel on foot, while other times i ride as a passenger in a work van, and yet other times I use the subway. Whether walking or riding, I usually 'shoot from the hip'. This means that many pictures are hit or miss with only a few seconds to see, frame, and shoot. Even when I'm walking and have the luxury of stopping I will often only allow myself 3 or 4 shots. This has to do with the fact that I have to anticipate moving figures into any composition. Those who photograph spontaneous scenes will know what I'm talking about. Working this way has been a good teacher in how to anticipate and 'see', and a valuable discipline simply not possible to acquire with reliance on a rapid autoshoot. I have nothing against this feature, but I am not a sports photographer.