Knowing exactly when to click that button to capture the right moment is a skill that takes practice and intuition! One that can be a little more challenging with a manual focus lens. Discover how Lolita Beckwith captured the vibrant spirit and emotion of the NYC subway street musicians with the Sol 45.
I’ve lived in NYC my entire life, and I take the subway everywhere. As a result, I have a love/hate relationship with the NYC Subway System. Yes, it gets me where I want to go. But there’s also intensely-crowded trains and platforms, unpredictable train schedules AND passenger behavior, inconvenient delays, and subway platforms that are as hot-as-Hades in the summer.
But sometimes I hear something in the subway that makes me fall in love with it all over again: music! From classical soloists to jazz trios to 10-member brass bands, the sound of music wafts through many of NYC’s most popular subway stations. Often you hear them long before you see them…if you see them at all (gotta run for the train!).
Photographing these musicians with the Lensbaby Sol 45 was quite a challenge. My photographic style is very vivid and striking…perfect for the Sol 45’s dramatic, beautiful bokeh. But I also like to convey the emotions of my subjects. Capturing the musicians’ ever-changing facial expressions and movements with a manual focus lens was much harder to accomplish than I expected. But that is where patience comes in. Sometimes, you have to wait for what legendary street photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson called “The Decisive Moment”: “There is a creative fraction of a second when you are taking a picture. Your eye must see a composition or an expression that life itself offers you, and you must know with intuition when to click the camera. That is the moment the photographer is creative.”
With that in mind, I was able to capture a full range of expressions, from a singer’s passionate high note to a drummer’s joy. Even the fingers of a keyboardist told a story…without even seeing his face. And that is what I love most about photography: telling a story and evoking emotion with just a single image. With just one decisive moment.