Roy Berkowitz

        I have been making photographs since I was a teenager. I have spent my life immersed in it, in one form of another, since the 1970's, when the great modern street photographers were plying their craft. I am indebted to the work of Lee Friedlander and William Eggelston; I tip my hat to Man Ray and Bill Brandt.

        It is an interesting time to be a photographer. The analog-to-digital revolution has altered the photo world, not always in an inviting way. From 1991 until 2011, my sole capture device was a toy plastic camera, the Holga. In the summer of 1991, while working at the Maine Photographic Workshops, in Rockport, I totaled my car in an accident, fracturing my pelvis and fifth lumbar vertebra. I started using the Holga because it doesn't weigh much and I could take some shots while hobbling around with a walker or crutches. Seeing the result of the first few rolls, I had to stop making fun of it and seriously consider the images I was capturing.

        My purpose as a photographer has always been to communicate emotion, rather than information. In using a Holga, I made a conscious aesthetic decision and a political choice as well. Finding a device that freed me from the economics of multi-thousand-dollar gear was liberating, ending the chase for the fastest, sharpest new toy. I loved the strange quality of the Holga lens and perspective; it enabled my odd sense of humor to sneak into the frame. Although I have since replaced the Holga with a Panasonic Lumix, the images I now make are informed by lessons the humble, low-tech Holga taught me back then.

        As a city boy, I was born to wander the urban landscape. Like an “urban Buddhist,” who likens a walk through the city to a walk in wilderness, I find endlessly beautiful views of the street to behold. Looking while walking—something most of us do on a hike, but forget to do between the subway and the office— gives me a non-discriminating approach to everyday objects and environments, letting me find their special nature through selection and interpretation, then adding my desire to push things.

        I typify the French masculine noun flâneur —stroller, lounger, saunterer, loafer. I was a messenger in midtown Manhattan for three years and I think that experience affected me profoundly. I can’t get the city images out of my blood. Charles Baudelaire’s graceful expansion of its meaning— "a person who walks the city in order to experience it"— echoes the archaic British vicambulist, a person who wanders the city. These fascinated walkers were on Susan Sontag’s mind when she wrote:

        "The photographer is an armed version of the solitary walker reconnoitering, stalking, cruising the urban inferno, the voyeuristic stroller who discovers the city as a landscape of voluptuous extremes. Adept of the joys of watching, connoisseur of empathy, the flâneur finds the world 'picturesque."

All my work is availble for sale.  I like to print the squares at 20" x 20".  Please contact me for pricing.


© Copyright 2013. No image can be used without the explicit permission of Roy Berkowitz

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