Sunday, January 16, 2011

CROSSTOWN - Street Photography in Retrospective

It's Sunday today and I got a little laid back though. I just recovered from a cold and have been staying at home for the entire day yesterday. So I forced myself out of the bed and stepped out of house to have some freash air. I went to the library and came across this book, titled Crosstown by one of the twentieth century's most important photographers, Helen Levitt.

More details here after.

Helen Levitt (1913 – 2009)
Helen Levitt was born on August 31, 1913, in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn. Her father, Sam, a Russian-Jewish immigrant, ran a successful wholesale knit-goods business; her mother, May, was a bookkeeper before her marriage. After dropping out of high school, Levitt taught herself photography while working for a commercial photographer.

Crosstown is the largest selection of Helen Levitt's work ever published. Levitt has trained her eye and camera on the streets of New York City since the mid-1930s. The city's joys and tragedies, the playfulness and diversity of its people all take center stage in her characteristically humane street photographs.

Levitt's wonderfully candid black-and-white shots from the 1930s and 40s have inspired generations of photographers, including myself. I strongly recommend readers here who love street photography, to check out her book at the library and hope her work will inspire you.

In this book, I find her work intriguing and it's a book about life. Levitt had captured the essence of New Yorkers' daily life with a fine sense of humor, often in subtle. It's more than 6 decades now and to this day, her work  sets a great example for many aspiring street photographers.

As a Singaporean, I urge my countrymen to do the same, that is, slow down your pace and take your time to look around. Take a closer look at your own neighborhood and this city we live in. There are so many drastic changes over the past 10 years and before you know it, there are nothing left for our nostalgia and for our younger generation.

Here's a video from YouTube on Helen Levitt's work. Pleasant viewing.

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