Looking Down

The image below clearly shows a man sitting in a shop front, he is wearing a hospital gown under his coat, he has patient ‘tags’ on both wrists and is clutching a couple of dollars. Above him stands an NYPD Cop. The angle and framing of the shot adds to its dynamic.

A very powerful and contentious image, made all the more dramatic when reduced to black and white. I thought long and hard before posting this. I am aware of the possible social sensitivity of this shot and how such a provocative and emotive image could be interpreted or perhaps misinterpreted. It is designed to challenge and not to inform. The truth and meaning of this image lies solely in the  heart and mind of the viewer and their own preconceptions.

83 thoughts on “Looking Down

  1. Wow…I can see what you mean by “social sensitivity.” Great shot. I witnessed the RCMP taking down a fellow but didn’t have the nerve to photo the scene – wished I would have.

  2. As usual…..your images are stunningly profound…the heart wrenching questions they conjure, are only limited by the number of people who view them…..and perhaps one day, all of these questions will lead us to, some solutions…. some answers…for these unfortunate souls but also for ourselves.

  3. This is a great street photograph, one to which we bring our own attitudes. The surface qualities, however, may belie unexpected stories, the sort that might work against the emblemmatic signals in the visual content. In this instance, even with the standing cop with his gun — just a part of the working uniform — and the guy on the ground, you picked up the details in words that tell at least part of the story of the picture and implied related health and social issues.

    • I guess the hospital ‘tags’ etc make this image a little more relevant with the new healthcare initiatives that are about to be put into practice. Nice comment, thanks.

  4. The thing that grabbed me was the immediate focus on the gun butt when first glancing at the image. These are the forgotten folks, the easily discarded… makes me question what those few dollars were supposed to represent. You are amazing in the rot you are uncovering beneath our slick exterior.

  5. It took me a while to see the gun (believe it or not . . . ) because I was so mesmerised by the resigned look on the man’s face.

    Such a dynamic shot!

    • Perhaps, I think the image offers a great many conclusions. The viewer has to look within themselves for the answer I guess. Thanks for the comment Karen.

  6. Mate your Street photography is inspiring! Truly something I one day hope to master. This picture is raw, harsh and powerful. Love it!

  7. The angle of the Photo is definitely very special while it has a sad story behind. But to not taking those Photos, would be a lie. I don’t see this Photo as provocative but rather as reminding that living in a warm room with luxus like computers and so on is not normal for everyone in the world. Therefor it is reminding art.

  8. So glad you decided to post this image – superbly powerful and all the more so for B&W. Thanks for the ‘like’ for my picture haiku – it’s great to get a ‘like’ from another tyke. I was blown away by New York but it’s a long time ago (1960s). I just lay on the ‘sidewalk’ at night pointing upwards with a Minox 35EL. Sadly all the slides are long lost.

    • Shame your images from New York are gone. I like the lying on the sidewalk at night approach to photography, I may give it a go. It was a very different city at that time (I’m told) I doubt you would recognize it now. I come from a little Village called Cudworth near Barnsley, so proud ‘Tykes’ we are mate. Thanks for the comment.

  9. This is intense imagery. I do not know how you shot this, if it was spontaneous or posed, either way you had the mind to recognize and make a image with heavy subject content. Besides that, the image itself is out of this world. The composition is dynamic, you have black blacks, white whites and shades of grey all in between. It is crisp yet has texture. Incredible.

  10. Your photography is very powerful and evokes many emotions. The helplessness on the man’s face is so sad. I look forward very much to seeing more. Cheers for the like on my blog.

  11. Your work is amazing. Incredible captures and you lend so many emotions and provoke the deepest thoughts. Thank you for sharing. You are an inspiration!

  12. Not sure how I missed this image the last time I looked through your blog but glad I came across it this time.
    This is definitely my favourite photograph of yours so far – brilliant job capturing this it’s a cracking shot!! Love it!

  13. I nearly made a shot similar to this a couple years ago. Instead of a homeless outpatient being just beyond the sight of the holstered pistol, it was a boy who was fascinated with the cop’s gun and could barely take his eyes off of it. I made the cop nervous squatting behind him with my camera to my eye, and he quickly altered his stance in order to keep me in his peripheral vision so the chance to photograph the boy gawking at this imposing sidearm was immediately lost before I could press the shutter button.

  14. It’s a matter of perspective, huh? The composition AND the interpretation. You pose a significant social conundrum in this powerfully composed shot. I won’t forget this one.

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