This is my very first street portrait, taken as I was exploring the impoverished West Philadelphia neighborhood adjacent to the campus where I was spending a year as an exchange student. See also my travel diaries article about Philadelphia.
It’s still one of my favorites in terms of evocative power. The violence and cynicism of the “Forget About the Rest” whisky advertising billboard (which creative is specifically targeted at African Americans) on the dilapidated building seems to literally weigh on the shoulders of this man.
These were film days, and a student budget. I had just one click, one frame… The fact the traffic light was red was a happy coincidence.
(Incidentally, the concept of “brand safety” in advertising had probably not been invented yet, but this is still an epic fail!)
Although street portraits are traditionally monochrome, I think color actually adds a lot to this one…
More to come, stay tuned !
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