Homelessness is a very real problem, not only here in New York, but all over America. I believe these are the people that need a bailout, rather than the wealthy corporate bankers who already have more money than they can spend. As a photographer it's tough to see and photograph these things but it's my job to document what is happening around me.
The image below took me by surprise. I didn't expect the eye contact, but it just happened in an instant. To me, these eyes have a powerful, haunting quality about them. I know some photographers feel uncomfortable photographing people in public. I can't say I blame them. I used to be the same way until I learned a few tricks from my friend, Ted Fisher.
First, don't use a big telephoto lens, it will only make you stand out that much more. For street shooting, I use a wide angle lens almost all of the time. Next, work quickly and keep moving. This means having the camera on and out of the case, lens cap off, and your exposure settings pretty close to where they need to be. You can make quick adjustments, but if you end up standing there zooming in and out for any more than 3-5 seconds, chances are the shot is gone. Don't worry about creating a perfect composition every time. Part of the appeal to street photography is that anything can and will happen. Things you don't notice may end up in the frame. Often, this can create an even more compelling photograph.
Last summer I made this slideshow about the way the economy has affected New Yorkers. I believe it's still relevant today. The images were all created using many of the techniques I mentioned above. Music is by Kevin MacLeod, used with permission. I encourage you to share your thoughts in the comment area. Thank you.