• Featured,  Parades,  Street Performers,  Street Photography,  Street Portraits

    Of funk and urbanism: An ode to Jane Jacobs

    I went to the Funk Parade; part of the cadre of official photographers. I have recently been inspired by urban theorist, Jane Jacobs, the original proponent of organic urban renewal and sidewalks in the city. To me, Jane should be a street photographer’s hero. Her ideas on urban design were on my mind when I arrived at the parade. Besides seeing the parade, I was mostly interested in what people were doing, how they were interacting and why they were there. My somewhat Felliniesque take on the parade was not helped by the fact that I had Skepta’s ‘Konnichiwa’ and Radiohead’s ‘Burn the Witch’ on heavy rotation. Here is to…

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  • Street Portraits

    The Beatles, Whoopi, and UFOs: Ivy City Street Portraits

    The Washington Post calls Ivy City “the next cool D.C. neighborhood you have never heard of.” North of Galludet University, Ivy City once served as a suburb for railroad employees. But now, many of the area’s old industrial buildings are being converted into something more tony and trendy. Bars, restaurants, and coffee shops are all in the works. There is already a Mom’s Organic Market, a Planet Fitness, and, in an old art deco building that used to serve as a Hecht Company warehouse, a huge Nike outlet. It was Nike that brought me to Ivy City. Or, more precisely, it brought my wife and niece, and I went along…

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  • Dispatches,  Featured,  Street Photography,  Street Portraits

    Dispatches: A Blustery January in London

      Enroute to Accra, Ghana, I made a much needed stopover in London. One of my favorite cities in the world after Accra, Washington DC and New York. My endless fascination borders on social psychology, anthropology and, perhaps, some innocent voyeurism. It’s amazing — I get to use my trusty Fuji X-T1 and iPhone as the medium to “scratch my itch” in trying to understand how other people live, as a means to understanding my place in the world. These monochrome photos show what I saw from Regent Street, Green Park, Hounslow and other places. All images © Nana Gyesie.  His work can be found on Tumblr, flickr and Instagram.  Dispatches is our occasional look…

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  • Featured,  Street Portraits

    Picturing Street Sense with National Geographic

    Founded in 2003, Street Sense is a  paper about homelessness, featuring stories, photos and poems by people who are homeless or have been in the past. But it is more than that. Street Sense is also an economic driver. Its vendors pay about 50 cents per paper to cover publishing costs and then earn $2 for each copy they sell. This means that the average vendor earns about $45 per day. In addition, Street Sense hosts a film making cooperative and photography classes for vendors. [For more on Street Sense, check out their website.] If you live or work in Washington, DC, the chances are pretty good that you know…

  • Protests,  Street Photography,  Street Portraits

    The mediating power of the American flag: A localized observation of Nepali geopolitics

    On a wintery mid-morning on November 22nd, a group of Nepalese protesters organized by self-described Greater Nepali-American community gathered near the White House to protest what they described as India’s blockade of the border with their country. One unidentified protester suggested that the impact could potentially decimate poor people in Nepal. Importantly, this same unidentified Nepali stated that the impact of the border blockade meant there was no transportation of gas, fuel and food from India to the landlocked Nepali. There were approximately 300  protesters, yet I noticed a counter protest organized by a group representing the Madhesis, supposedly a marginalized group which suffered brutalities at the hand of the…

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  • Featured,  Street Portraits

    My Favorite Photo Spot: Eastern Market

      What do you look for in a photo-taking spot? As a street photographer, I’m drawn to places with lots of people. Not just any people, mind you. People who seem relaxed and happy are more likely to say yes when I ask them for a photo. Meanwhile, very busy people likely won’t even notice if I take pictures of them on the sly. There are many places around Washington that have that perfect mix of happy, relaxed folks and occupied, oblivious ones. Union Station comes to mind, or on the corner of 7th and H NW, near the Chinatown arch. And there are all our vibrant main streets, from…

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  • Street Photography,  Street Portraits

    A week in mystical DC

    This week has been quite fascinating! I attended a Slavoj Zizek lecture at the New York University campus near 13th Street in NW [actually, I was not allowed in because they ran out of space]. I decided to wait outside so I could have a chance encounter with Slavoj Zizek. While waiting, two ladies, both named Chelsea, came and stood next to me for a cigarette break. We engaged in conversation, and it turned out they were both PhD students, just like me. One of them had a tattoo of Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X) on her inner wrist. It struck me because she was not African-American!! A paradigm-shifting moment for…

  • Street Portraits

    DC Street Portrait: Shell

      Shell sat on the sidewalk across from the White House, displaying 10,000 paper cranes that she had folded by hand. “It took me two years, off and on, to make them,” she said.  Eventually, she will mail her work to Peace Memorial Park in Hiroshima, Japan, where it will be added to the countless other origami cranes that decorate the park. Shell was inspired by the story of Sadako, a girl who was only two years old when the A-bomb destroyed her city. While Sadako survived the blast, by 6th grade, she began to show signs of leukemia.  Sadako started folding paper cranes, convinced that they would help her…

  • Street Portraits

    DC Street Portrait: Butch

      As Humans of New York’s Brandon Stanton demonstrates every day, among most satisfying things about taking street portraits are the unpredictable conversations that you can have with your subjects. Nor does the Big Apple hold a monopoly on these interactions. I caught up with Butch on H Street NE and as I snapped his picture, the first thing he asked me was, “Are you a Catholic?”  I confessed that I was, though I haven’t practiced in quite some time. “Once a Catholic, always a Catholic,” Butch said. We agreed that we liked Pope Francis before we parted.  

  • Celebrations,  Events,  Festivals,  Parades,  Street Portraits

    Capital Pride – June 13 and 14

    Capital Pride is a week-long event, with the major public activities being the parade (June 13 starting at 4:30) and the festival (June 14 from 12-7). Here is my game plan for enjoying the event and taking photographs. At the parade, I like to start near the beginning of the parade, watching the participants as they get ready before the parade starts. Then I watch the parade near its beginning on P Street, enjoying both the parade and the spectators (and if you are lucky, you can catch the beads!) The parade has a long winding route, so there is still plenty to see after the parade has passed by…