New York City: Recent Photographs
By Todd Boressoff
107 Watchung Ave.
Reception Thursday, July 25,
Through July 31
By GWEN OREL
At first, perhaps, they seem like snapshots: people walking on the street, or coming off an escalator.
But look closer, and you see a story: the group of girls walking together all have bags from Urban Outfitters, all are carrying coffee, all have long straight hair, all have ripped jeans.
The two young girls walking away from the escalator share hugs full of affection. A stare from a young man walking by poses a question.
The photos are by Montclair’s Todd Boressoff, part of an exhibit currently on display at Local Coffee through the end of July. It’s his first show there. Previously he’s had two exhibitions at the Montclair Public Library — one of travel photos, and another of his work shooting for Outpost in the Burbs.
This exhibition shows pictures on the streets of New York, most taken within the last six months.
Boressoff, retired now, was a photographer before he became an early childhood educator. In a sense, that was his fallback job, though he’s quick to say he loved it.
Since he retired, he began diving back into photography seriously, taking classes at the International Center of Photography in Manhattan.
“My inspiration is prior street photographers and their work, Henri Cartier Bresson,” he said. “I’ve always admired that kind of work, and [this class] got me into the city to really concentrate for a period of time.”
The five large pictures on the top of the wall come from a course called “Changing New York,” and includes images of builders, an aerial shot, New York waterfronts.
Many of the photographs are right around Penn Station, 34th Street and Seventh Avenue.
It is the life and liveliness on the street, and the chance to capture it, that appealed to him.
“The things you take pictures of sometimes turn out to be more than what you thought,” he explained.
For example, it was good fortune that when he was taking a picture at a fruit stand that nobody was looking at him, and the woman reached for an item just as he snapped.
He did not even notice the boy in red was staring at him when he took the photograph of the people walking on the streets; he was interested in the flow of movement and the red color caught his attention.
“It’s sort of magical when that happens, when things come together,” he said.
Of course, he takes many pictures of a scene that attracts him. The ones that make the final cut showed something in their lines, or the expressions on the faces, that made them stand out.
“One of the things I’ve learned to be comfortable with is going in close,” he said. “If people don’t like it, they’ll tell me to go away, and I will.”
One picture shows a bohemian-looking man sitting on the subway, framed by two men in business attire.
Boressoff took the photo with the camera on his lap. Even without looking through the viewfinder, he knew how to focus at that distance. The photo is at a slight angle, deliberately: it allows the picture to include reading glasses in the pocket of one man, and the hand of the other men. You can just make out a little bit of a leather attache case. The contrast appealed to him.
“I liked that these two men were of a different class, or era,” he said.
In one of the two larger pictures at the wall at the back of the shop, a sweet-faced young man, wearing a shirt with an image of the Mona Lisa, checks his phone. He wears a Cross. Then on closer inspection, you realize it’s not a cross, but a gun, with a magazine.
“He was just walking down Sixth Avenue,” Boressoff said. “I wanted to have this story.”