Paul McDonough writes a great piece for the  Paris Review about the years leading up to his decision to photograph. These are raw, street photographs that capture the true essence of New York.  It’s truly an unbiased lens; the subjects merely present themselves.

Excerpt:
“Manhattan, now as well as forty years ago, was a walker’s city. I could wear out a good deal of shoe leather crisscrossing the streets of midtown, with detours into Central Park where Mayor Lindsay had just recently opened up the grassy areas that drew great crowds. The energy level of New Yorkers rushing to and from their myriad destinations (and they do move faster here than in any other city) was galvanizing. The minor—and major—dramas of the city were the main attraction. People in New York were different.”

It was the sheer quantity of people on the street that made the spectacle unique. There were so many opportunities; you had to be perpetually alert and believe something was going to happen. You were not looking for photographs, but for the raw material that would make you want to photograph; the gesture or expression that demanded to be recorded. You were in the moment and you didn’t judge or qualify. For example, in the 1973 photograph taken at a parade, two business men are perched like statues on standpipes, trying to see over the heads of the crowd that had momentarily parted. They were serious; they had a sense of purpose. About what, the photograph doesn’t give a clue. That information is outside the frame’s viewpoint and beyond the camera’s scope.”

Paul McDonough: New York Photographs 1968–1978 will be published by Umbrage Books on November 4. An exhibition of McDonough’s work will be on display at the Sasha Wolf Gallery from November 4, 2010 to January 8, 2011.

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