Hours of Idleness-A Photographer's Journey in St. Louis

Interlude: PFSTL Top Ten, #9. JeffVanderLou

Posted in art, awareness, Jason Gray, links, photography, prime lenses, Uncategorized by Jason Gray on July 8, 2016

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Photo Flood Saint Louis turns four this August.  This post is a continuation of a countdown to commemorate this exciting milestone.

JeffVanderLou is a neighborhood that is pretty impossible to forget (even if it seems our region may have).  It is both a place of remarkable achievements and of tragedies, where some of St. Louis’ proudest sons and daughters have walked and also where they have fallen.

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Some may be surprised, but approaching strangers to photograph them is not exactly second nature for me.  There is always a rush of adrenaline when I walk up to someone that I don’t know and ask or gesture to make their photograph; it is something that intensifies the moment we make eye contact, and I strive as best as possible to make the image while that feeling is still heightened.  In the case of the shot above, a building demolition was occurring just out of frame, and two groups of people were spectating- independent contractors/workers hoping to get a gig and brick thieves waiting for the crew to look away.  I approached the brick thieves first, and was told by them not to photograph.  I then noticed the man above watching me (he was one of the workers standing by).  I asked him if I could take a picture of him, he said yes, and I piloted him in front of the brick thieves (who appear in the background).  All of this happened within the span of seconds, and it is still one of my favorite personal shots from any Flood.

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Like The Patch a year before, this was a cold day.  I chose the D300 and my Nikkor 50mm f/1.8D, which kept things simple and freed me to think about composition and subject (since that time, I’ve pretty much standardized the lenses that I bring with me as the 24mm and 50mm).  JVL is a big neighborhood and offers so much if you are willing to take a closer look.  With so much potential nearby, I hope that this neighborhood springs back to life someday.

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