Gatherings on the Street:
If you’ve looked at the photographs in “Travel Places,” you see that a good portion of my creative life is spent on the streets making pictures of strangers. What follows here is another kind of “street photography,” but this time it’s relegated to one space and one time.
I call these pictures “Gatherings On The Street” - somewhat like journalism, somewhat like art and a lot like the kind of photographs I make when I travel to other cities. In each one of these portfolios are collections of images resulting when I have attended a large event and then photographed the resulting experience.
The earliest of these pictures are participants in the 2016 presidential debates held at Washington University in St. Louis. I decided to locate in an open space where anyone was allowed to demonstrate their approval for one candidate or the other and see what was going on. I found a group of demonstrators who not only promoting their candidate, but better yet for me, willing to be photographed. In many instances they actually sought me out to make pictures. I am a member of the National Press Photographers Association, and I wear my ID and lanyard for events such as these. I looked like the other reporters there to document the event. I was “reporting” as well, it’s just that my images have a smaller circulation than a news or video reporter. However, when you view these images you are participating in my kind of “circulation.”
In this kind of photography I found all of the excitement that I normally felt when doing my “travel places” photographs, but I was concentrated in one time and one place. Unlike the Travel Places photographs, people in these places were not suspicious of my making pictures. In these events there’s less walking, and a concentrated collection of good images.
The resulting pictures in the “Debate” sequence confirmed that I should do more of this. So I resolved to go to as many possible crowd events and to photograph what goes on. What follows are four portfolios of these type of events culled from the many times I inserted myself into these group situations.
A word about the “opening day” photographs of St Louisans partying on the day the St. Louis Cardinals play their first home game. In St. Louis, it is called “an official unofficial holiday.” It is a day when people purposely take off work to celebrate baseball in St. Louis. The first game of the baseball season in St. Louis could actually be cold and wintery, but to people like myself who appreciate baseball, that day heralds the promise of summer - of sunny and warm days spent at the ballpark, and also the promise that this year this team will be better than the one last year.
The management of the Cardinals baseball team supplies a venue for this gathering along with many alcoholic beverages to be purchased and consumed during the event. But it’s not just the alcohol and costumes that make these parties so enjoyable. In one way this event could be compared to the festivals and parties that have occurred throughout history at the beginning of each season. These events are both a celebration of baseball but more importantly, the joyous turning of the seasons.
Just a note: I have resolved to attend every opening day in St. Louis that I can. However, what you see in this collection is the result of my attendance in 2017 and 2018. Unfortunately, opening day in 2019 was rained out, and equally unfortunate, the rallies of 2020 and 2021 were canceled due to the Covid virus.