1970’s

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More From the 1970's

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The

'70s

was the origins of my visual odyssey

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I can think of no better way to define my 70’s experience than with this photograph of the Brooklyn bridge.  It was taken in 1976, a year after the movie “Dog Day Afternoon” was released with Al Pacino. 

I was fortunate to have ridden my small Honda 350cc motorcycle from Chicago and could breeze out of a muggy New York City to escape and to continue my experiment in taking photographs from a moving bike.

This pursuit of visual accidents started after a photograph I took from a bus in 1971 near Grand Canyon. From this early image, I realized magic could happen within the split second of a camera’s shutter. To me, it was like viewing a core sample of time and uncovering the breathtaking secrets of the universe.

Awakening

I always like this photograph because of the precision the shadow alines with the mirrored Manhattan Bridge. This picture became the pinnacle of a five-year project that came to an end on New Years Eve 1997. In the parked car on Fifth Avenue was a shiny Halliburton case containing all the negatives. It disappeared through the smashed window into thin air.

Fortunately, the set of negatives containing this image was not in the collection. While the loss was naturally upsetting, curators such as Marvin Heiferman of Castelli Graphics expressed interest and exhibits were in the offering. But all I remember is a soothing relief as if the weight lifted and wings set free to find new paths. It led to photojournalism, to Topeka Capital-Journal, to be the first western photojournalist into China after Nixon, to GEO, National Geographic and Magazines to come.

As the years passed, one day, I looked and saw a metaphor embedded in the photograph.

The road is the journey. We move forward toward our goals and aspirations. They look like the bridge in front of us but hidden by the limitation of our minds. We don’t see how we get there nor where it takes us.

We feel fear and lack of faith when we look to the future. We see the lamppost which supposes to illuminate our way, but we are so close, we don’t see the light. We also can see the plate is off, in need of repair.  

The miracle of this moment is the presence of a higher power. The sun cast this shadow of doubt on the pavement and at the speed of 70mph. It alines perfectly with the bridge of the past. As we look into the mirror of history, we see a complete lamppost that is not there staring into the future.

The camera, at 1,000th of a second, was able to connect the future with the past in perfect synchronicity and display the power of the moment.