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Len Speier’s New York City: Street Photography Without Questions

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“I don’t like to interfere with a scene that I see, but I take each situation as it comes,” says Len Speier, whose been photographing people in New York since the 1950s. “If I see a good shot, I shoot and don’t ask questions; if a person sees that I am shooting, I won’t abandon the shot.”

 

Len Speier photographs

Belushi Band – 1985

Len Speier photographs

Brooklyn

Len Speier photographs

Len Speier photographs

 

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“I have no specific rules, and if the situation deems that I should ask for permission before I shoot, I have no problem with that. There are times when the interaction creates a better shot. I have a shot of a mother and daughter at the Puerto Rican Day parade in which the young girl was wearing a crown and her father reached to adjust it and I shot just as his hand was in the frame. He later apologized for “ruining” the shot and I thanked him for “making” the shot. Perhaps it didn’t come out as the type of shot he had envisioned, but for me, his hand in the frame made the photo so much better.”

 

Len Speier photographs

 

Street Photography can be hazardous:

“I have been shooting a lot on buses, and there was an incident not too long ago on a city bus, which might hint at some sort of the attitude you are referring to. A person became so incensed that I had taken a picture of a child—it wasn’t even their child—but the person was so upset at me that I broke one of my own rules and actually deleted the photo.”

 

Len Speier photographs

Riverside Church 1978

Len Speier photographs

1968

Len Speier photographs

Mudd Club, NYC

Len Speier photographs

Len Speier photographs

Central Park 1968

Len Speier photographs

W. 91st Street

Len Speier photographs

NYC

Len Speier photographs

Chinese New Year

Len Speier photographs

1976 NYV

Len Speier photographs

 

Check out Len’s superb and serendipitous work at Daniel Cooney fine art.

  • Fred Johansen

    The 3rd photo from the top is definitely not New York. Maybe somewhere in the U.K. ?