When I decided to do the Picture Black Friday 2009 competition, my first idea was to run to the mall like everybody else did and try to get that great Brian Ulrich's inspired photo of the mall that eventually knew, will get the winning prize. Then I thought oh...maybe I go to Fifth Avenue and play accidental tourist and try capture the spirit and the mood there, being all grand, beautiful,luxurious and all that. I did that.
Right after coming from Fifth Avenue, I ended up near 125 Street in Harlem and, what I witnessed while there made me change my mind and realized that as a street photographer my responsibility and desire was to capture something that in my opinion was more important that a rat race to a shopping mall. The existing malls right now exist thanks to main shopping streets like 14 , 34, 42 , 72 ,96 and 125 streets in main cities like Manhattan. Throughout NYC history and way before the mall madness, 125 Street in particular, has been a shopping mecca for Upper Manhattan and the Bronx. What I saw Black Friday in Harlem, made me extremely sad but, inspired . So moved by it that, I decided try to capture it in photographs. Unfortunately Picture Black Friday allowed 5 photographs and a artist statement of only 400 words (would like to read what the others wrote) making it a bit challenging for me to tell my kind of story.
Here is what I wrote in so little words:
Black Friday - Harlem
Between the desolation of a For Sale sign,vacant spaces for rent and run down businesses was... Energy; a light in the dark, an unnerving sense of expectancy, eagerness, customers being lured right on and off from the street, the hustle and bustle of doing their best with limited resources. Such pride and resilience that, only most New Yorkers have and people pursuing the American Dream. A touching, inspiring, heartfelt, and emotional Black Friday journey.
I am pretty happy to end up a finalist and that they selected the two photographs shown here. They tell a different and true story .To me, it is more important to tell a real story that needs to be told that, just simply follow the crowd running to the mall. Thank you to all the judges for recognizing my work and intentions. Congratulations to Sandy Carlson the winner, Alex Boerner the runner up and the other finalists!