Friday, May 31, 2019

Liquor Store Taxi Cab

Dealing With The Unexpected

People sometimes ask me whether I have a favorite photograph. It's a fair question, but the simple answer is no. I've snapped a lot of pictures over the years under a wide variety circumstances, and they are meaningful to me in a variety of ways. It would be a daunting task to narrow it down to a favorite few hundred images. 

But I do notice patterns when I look back over my portfolio and note the images that I find most meaningful to me personally. Often the photos that stand out involved some sort of surprise at the time of capture, and not necessarily a pleasant surprise.

a photo of a taxi cab in front of a liquor store in new york city
Liquor Store Taxi Cap - New York City (2019)

I spotted this bright, colorful liquor store while strolling through the Chelsea neighborhood looking for subjects for my New York At Night series. I passed a number of interesting looking properties - stores, hotels, restaurants - but the view was always marred by physical obstructions such as parked cars, dumpsters, or scaffolding.

When I arrived at the liquor store, the view was completely clear. No cars were parked in front of it. But as I was setting up my camera and tripod, the yellow cab pulled up in front of the store and stood there for a while.

I figured that the taxi would move on quickly. Cab drivers have to work hard to make enough money to cover their expenses. They don't tend to take leisurely breaks. But this guy sat there for more than ten minutes as I waited. It seemed like an opportunity lost due to bad luck. 

Over the years, I have developed a simple philosophy for incidents like this. Take the shot anyway. Include the obstruction. This gives me the chance to fine tune the composition and my camera settings. When (and if) the obstruction finally moves, I'll be ready.

The taxi finally did pull away, and I was able to take shots of the unobstructed liquor store, but the unobstructed shots were less interesting than this version with the cab. Take the shot anyway. Accept your circumstances and make the best of them. You can't always tell in advance which shot you're going to prefer.

One can imagine a scenario of why a cab driver might pull up in front of a liquor store. It's not a very positive scenario. Did this scenario actually occur? I'll leave that to the imagination. I'm not prepared to disclose all of the city's dark secrets.

Camera: Sony a7R III

Lens:     Sony FE 70-200mm f/4 G OSS

Light happens. Be ready. Shoot hard.

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