“The Bowery, NYC.” Leica M240. 35mm Sumicron.
You Make Your Luck
You do. Just like any profession, things seem to happen for certain people. Call it luck, but it’s not. Luck is haphazard. Luck is a lottery ticket winner. Missing a falling piano by an inch. That’s not what this is about. Being outside the Bowery Hotel at the exact moment that the doors open up and this occurs is a different thing entirely. You have to backtrack to truly understand.
Not just the sequence of events that lead me to this place, but more so being there and knowing: this is where I want to shoot. And I don’t know why. It’s not intuition, either. It’s nothing other-worldly in any way. For one thing, it’s the Bowery. One of the coolest hotels in NY. And when you’re walking along the grunge and drudgery of the Lower East side on a freezing miserable day and you come upon this hotel, well, it sings to you. Plus, I was with my friend Tim who was staying there. We had stored our bags there and were grabbing them about to head to the airport when I struck up a conversation with the bell captain. We’re talking and I’m taking in the foyer and the beautiful lines and the getups the bellmen wear. What to do? What to do?? is running through my head the whole time.
And that’s the other thing. You talk to people and things open up for you. Especially if you’re nice. Nice isn’t luck. The guy is talking to me about my camera and we’re just shooting the shit and then I’m like, “Dude, let me shoot you in the window.” He’s totally down for it. In fact, wants me to send him the photos. So, I’m outside, with the full support of this guy, just perfectly in position, and it’s cold mind you, when all of the sudden he has to open the door for a lady. Click.
You make your luck. By being cognizant of your surroundings. Lingering around in places that feel and look good. Talking to people, making friends. And, yeah, having your settings all correct. I love the notion of The Decisive Moment as much as anyone. It’s very romantic. But that’s the very end of the experience. The real work is more than being in the right place at the right time. In fact, that’s very little of it. You make your luck. It’s not magic. You make it. It’s like that with life, too.