The Golden Gare Bridge, taken 15 years ago, looking upward. Shot using my Minolta x-700 35mm film camera.
Another blogger, SunandGold, recently did a posting from her time spent in San Francisco. Her interest and fascination with the city/culture was shared by me 45+ years ago. I promised I would post these photos from 1970 in one posting ( rather than individual posts that I did in the past) so she could get a slight inclination of what the city was like all those years ago, measured against her recent visit to the city.
If you look closely at the image of Vanessi’s you will see a woman walking alongside the building, having come down Telegraph Hill. The image below, looking up that same street, shows a lone man in a suit walking to work ( this was a morning shot). Anyway, two points:the woman is wearing a scarf. This type of dress or accessory died off or fell out of favor shortly after this time. Also, personally for me or about me, both of these images portray the individual /subject as being a small, insignificant part of the world they are captured in, in terms of composition. To this day I have continued this approach, portraying a sense of ‘aloneness’, in many street shots of people. It almost seems like an unconscious methodology or approach to people. Even in the most crowded of spaces, people find themselves isolated. The images with cars in them also help validate the point in time in which I shot these film images all those years ago.
I think the rest of the images are, for the most part, self explanatory. Of interest might be the image adjacent to the City Lights Bookstore. If you look at the reader board on the building you can actually read the band/musicians on the bill for that week, which in some sense helps to corroborate the time at which the image was shot. Keystone Korner was a great venue for catching current musicians such as Boz Scaggs and Bennhy Cecil and the Snakes! I think it was an over 21 club, but I could be wrong.
Thanks for going along for this short ride into the past with me!
Saints Peter and Paul Church, North Beach, San Francisco, CA. 1970. Hasn’t changed much over the past few decades.
A Black and White version of the previous posting. Shot in 1996 on film. Once I scanned it into a PC a few years ago, I have made some minor adjustments, cropping and contrast mostly, converting to B&W. Of the thousands of images I have shot since, this one remains in my top ten. Interestingly enough, I have shown this image in at least three shows, and it has never sold. My next door neighbor, Hanna, my wife and daughter love it though. So, all is not lost :-).
Two images, nearly 45 years apart, explore the same theme. One way to portray the human sense of aloneness is to put the subject alone in a large context, almost to the point of being almost meaningless, hard to find. The subject in this context is either not whole ( as in the Coney Island image) or is stepping into the shadow ( as in the Telegraph Hill image from 1970). Most photographers would explore this theme by focussing closely on the subject, as in a portrait with certain facial expressions to convey the theme. In both of these images the viewer is forced to look longer and closer to find the subject. To further emphasize the theme I picked places that are normally associated with lots of human traffic and times when that traffic might be minimal or non-existent.
Just as an aside: To shoot both of these images I used the same strategy, that is planting myself and camera in a location, waiting for the image/shot to come to me. This, too, is contrary to what is generally taught in photo classes; they always stress scouting your location ahead of time and going out with a plan of what you want to shoot. All good and well, but sometimes breaking the rules allows for surprising results.
Normally I let my images do the “talking” and let people decide what they see and how they see it. With these two images I got a sense of personally coming full circle, something a few words, would help to explain how they came about and how my perceptions are formed.
Scanned from a 35mm print taken in 1970; just below Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill, San Francisco, is the Garfied School. In the far background you can see the Golden Gate Bridge. The other two images show the Garfield School today, officially named Garfield Elementary School. Adjacent to the school you can see a two-tiered outdoor playground (with students playing) for the students.
I’m not sure if this gas station is still there, but it was located about a block south of North Beach, in downtown San Francisco in 1970. I always thought it was odd that an Asian-themed design was not in Chinatown, but rather near the Italian section of SF. I guess Chevron, in their corporate wisdom, thought differently. This image was scanned from an old print shot on an Agfa 35mm camera.