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People Watching In Chicago And New York City (1977-1980)

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“People want to be recognised, people want to be seen” – Charles H. Traub


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Between 1977 and 1980, Charles H. Traub took portraits of people who passed his eye in Chicago, New York and various European cities.


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He told Another Mag:

“Most people kind of adored being noticed, and stopped, and taking a brief minute at lunch time to engage. I think there were no caricatures, there was no negative attention involved in it. Just capturing the passing show of the street.”


street chicago 1970s


And those fashions? Wow! Those eyebrows. Those furs…

“In the 70s, people were still conscious of a sartorial individuality. Today, most people pretend to not be interested, although everybody considers what they put on for a reason.”


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Those huge ‘bins’.

“It was the 70s, and everyone had just started wearing sunglasses because Jackie Kennedy did. She was very famous for wearing sunglasses all the time. She created the style of wearing glasses – well it started in the 60s, but no one started doing it in that way until she did it; that was part of her look. Also, there was this thing in the 70s of wearing big glasses…”



Traub was recording the passing of a New York Minute.

He recalls a moment. Stood by 57th and 5th, out in  front of the Light Gallery, directly across from Tiffany’s, Traub spots the paparazzi across the road. They’re swarming over actress Jaclyn Smith, a Charlie’s Angel.

Stood apart from the scene, he’s working to capture ordinary people – “the passing parade of the street.” But this is New York:

“But then, who walks by but Jackie Kennedy, right in front of my camera, and says, ‘if you need to take my picture, please be quick’. I’m stunned! This is the most famous woman in the world at that time, without question.”

“All these idiots across the street are crawling all over a minor movie star, but if you just stay in one place long enough, everybody will pass you by. I said to her, ‘I’m not here for that purpose’ – I really wasn’t, I really didn’t want to do celebrities. She thanked me and she walked on… No sooner had I said that, John Lennon and Yoko Ono walked past – I didn’t do them, either!”


lunchtime new york traub


Everyone walks by sooner of later, the strange and the familiar. He told NYMag:

“It’s funny, you get so preoccupied with looking. In New York I saw a woman coming down the street who looked very motherly and nice, and I thought, That’s someone I ought to photograph. After probably a fraction of a second, I realized it was my own mother.”


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Take home Traub’s great work in Lunchtime – courtesy of Damiani.