Art & Photography

Photo Essay: Hope Within The Humdrum

Photographer Robin Sinha went to New York with his camera. These are the people he met

I draw great pleasure from simply watching the intricacies of the day unfold on the street. With my camera in hand, it gives me a purpose to watch and a reason to be there. I had never visited the States, and I wondered what New York could teach me about myself as a photographer and about the city itself. More often than not, taking a street photograph is a split-second decision. I see a subject of personal interest and feel compelled to frame it through my viewfinder. Often it’s not until I review my images later that I’m able to question what interested me in the first place.

Perhaps it’s my leading a privileged life and not really wanting for anything that explains why I’m so often drawn towards documenting the more impoverished areas with my camera. I feel I can learn more here and capture a more genuine portrayal of the city.

These photos show the humdrum of everyday life in one of the world’s most ethnically and culturally diverse cities. They depict a doggedness of character and people going about their everyday business. A life lived in monotonous routine has made old age a struggle.Hard times spawn creativity as subway singers filled carriages with soulful sounds in an attempt to earn a living. I met a lady sitting under a concrete arch in Brooklyn. A dog sat on her lap, grinning as he munched on his bone-shaped biscuit. A pram used to carry her possessions stood besides her. “Are you a photographer?” she shouted as I walked towards her. “I’m part of the Brooklyn furniture, you can photograph me!” I learned that she visits the same spot every year where she stays for weeks on end. “I don’t need anything else” she said with a big smile.

Accompanied by her sisters, an African-American mum took her three-year old daughter to Central Park by bus to celebrate her birthday. There was laughter and excitement as they animatedly discussed the best place to eat. An elderly lady who sat nearby got off at the next station. Before doing so she shoved a 20 dollar bill in the mother’s hand and told her to “treat the little one”. The rest of the journey was spent expressing delight at this kind gesture. The mother exclaimed to her daughter, “You don’t know how lucky you are!”

Words and photography
Robin Sinha

See more of Robin’s work for Port