Pedestrian Photographs were made in the first years of living in San Francisco after moving from Pittsburgh, PA – this was the mid ‘80s. It’s commonly known that Pittsburgh is/was an industrial city – I grew up not far from the steel mills. What is less known is the quality of light in the area: it is often overcast, giving a softer light and sense of atmospheric perspective that attends humid weather. This is the cultural and photographic atmosphere that I grew up with and in which I began photographing.
Adjusting to the light in the San Francisco area was challenging as the light was brilliant and contrasty – no more pretending to be a landscape painter of the Northern Renaissance. 🙂 I adopted the shadows as compositional elements and displayed the intensity of the light by turning the lens towards it instead of away. I discovered that if I used elements on the street to block the sun I could capture the brightly lit scene without getting glare. I was shooting with a Hasselblad C and a Mamiya C330 at the time.
As for content, I sought out the peripheral, industrial sectors of San Francisco and Oakland for my photography. My attachment to these areas stems from my Pittsburgh childhood and was encouraged by the photographs of Lee Friedlander, Lewis Baltz and the like. I was, and still am, drawn to these areas that are both heavily developed but largely overlooked … spaces that people pass through rather than reside in. In the ‘80s it was surprising that so much open space in a large city was available to wander around in, though a different type of wandering than what Golden Gate Park provided. Today these areas (SOMA, China Basin, Mission Bay, Mission District) have been largely transformed by technology businesses and condominiums.