New York blurs between an ordinary reality and an environment that is far from ordinary once you allow yourself to enter its hidden worlds.
On my way to capturing moments that represent peoples emotion and creativity in New York, my reality quickly interacted with someone else's world. A simple question from an odd looking man on a bicycle turned into a 45-minute escape in the city I know better than any place in the world.
"What kind of camera is that?" the man asked. "What was that?" I said back to him.
"What kind of camera is that?!" he yelled.
The man was sitting on a used bicycle wearing a Mets hat, brown leather vest with all types of necklaces, countless rings, teeth missing, half a finger, and black clothes down to his military-style leather boots. I answered his question, and he immediately started asking very technical questions about my camera. I was only able to answer half of his inquiries and started quickly wondering who he was. Once he realized I didn't have the same level of mechanical knowledge of cameras, he looked at me and said proudly, "Do you know who I am?" I quickly said no, not having a clue as to who he was and asked who he was.
"I'm Mark Fisher"
There was a pause longer than maybe both of us expected to let pass and I said, "I think I know who you are." He smiled and said, "Yeah, I'm Mark Fisher."
The more I summed up Mark, I knew there was little possibility of me knowing him. I hoped he was one of the famous street photographers from the 70s/80s maybe he was friends with Joel Meyerowitz or Martha Cooper.
He continued to rattle things off from his life. From helping create software that all photographers use these days, to how he needed to get to Citi Stadium for the Mets game and how much he loved his used bicycle which he kept calling a beater. I continued to listen to him mostly just nodding and asking a question whenever he would give me a chance to speak.
He then bottled off his bike and told me I had to take a photo of this bicycle up against the wall on Lafayette and Prince. He started instructing me to lay down on the floor and get my camera at an angle that would allow me to capture the front wheel with the sun hitting it and to include the details of a whittled down flower.
Here I am, 6:30 pm in the middle of Soho, on a perfect summer night laying down on the street with Mark instructing me to take the photo he saw to be perfect. He asked if he could try taking the picture with my camera since I wasn't capturing it correctly. This person who I've been questioning for the past 30 minutes started coming alive, and I started believing he was who he kept saying he was. Mark Fisher. We both agreed the photo he took was better than the pictures I was trying to capture.
He looked up at the sun and said "Quick! The sun is perfect, follow me!" He jumped on his bicycle and took off across Prince St. and made a quick turn onto Crosby heading south against the incoming traffic. I started running after him, and as he cruised through the street smiling with a hand-rolled cigarette in his mouth, I began to realize I wasn't in my world anymore. I had entered his lens of New York and was going along for the ride.
He stopped on Broome St. and he asked for my camera again to grab a couple of more photos of the sky, a fire escape, and the street looking east down Broome St.
He then told me he had to go and how nice it was to hang as he put it. He put out his hand for a fist bump, and we said see you later. He took off on his bicycle as I thought to myself New York is alive and well.