Mostly because of the difficulty I have when people ask what kind of pictures I take. None of the usual
categories -- fine-art or fashion, photojournalism, nature, or whatever -- quite seems to fit. I don't shoot
weddings or bar mitzvahs, don't cover NASCAR or do portraits of pets (okay, sure, I'll take a picture
of your pet, but that's only because your pet is special).
I take the pictures I want to take, the ones I'm moved to take, and I don't usually know what those are
until after they're done. But I've been at it long enough now that, looking back, there are themes -- and
perhaps a style, however rough and muddy -- that can be identified. And that's what the site is about.
Idiosyncratic Photography (which was to be subtitled "A site for sore eyes" until Google phoned to let
me know that upwards of a million Web sites -- more of them optometric than photographic -- had
thought of it already) is an amalgam of images from two eras. The first, which began in the late 1960s
and lasted about 15 years, is made up almost exclusively of black-and-white 35mm film, all developed
and printed personally. In the early '80s, when my day job began absorbing the time and energy I'd
devoted to the darkroom, I put the cameras away for a couple of decades. The second epoch got under
way in 2003 with my initially reluctant, then increasingly appreciative adoption of digital equipment. The
prints continue to be mostly monochrome, although the flexibility of the digital tools has let a little more
color sneak in here and there.
Subways (and the occasional bus) figure prominently in this collection. I'm a New Yorker who has been
fascinated since childhood by the faces across the aisle -- the people, their postures and, most of all, the
methods by which they manage to create their own space in the crowd. When I set out to be a writer
(before I stumbled into the life I've lived), that's what I wanted to write about. When I picked up a camera,
that's what I wanted to photograph.
Inevitably, along the way, there were other pictures to be taken as well. Shooting on and about the streets
of New York seems to run a strong second, and sometimes it's hard to separate the two. But the subway
stuff is the core: it's the essence of the city, and my motif.
-- Ernest Herman, New York City
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