Denizens of the Street. Share a Street Story.

If you live in a place for a long time, photograph inside/outside of your neighborhood, you are bound to run into characters, celebrities, the famous, the infamous… People who become familiar fixtures as you navigate around making imagery.

Last week I was walking up Broadway from 34th Street to Times Square. As I was crossing an intersection I saw a gentleman walking in the same direction who looked strangely familiar. I noticed how he was dressed – black army boots, green fatigue cargo pants, a black wool watch cap, a heavy tan canvas jacket, with a tan canvas bag over his shoulder. He had a very deliberate walk. I also noticed he was carrying a Leica or a XPan. He had it covered in both hands. He had a blond grayish beard and was wearing round wire rim glasses. Instantly, Josef Koudelka came to mind. Could it really be??

I followed behind for a couple of blocks trying to get a better direct look. I tried to Google his picture on my cell phone, but couldn’t get a connection. I called my wife who was in her office and she instantly text me a recent portrait of him. It was him!

I waited until he finished taking a picture. As I slowly approached him, I asked, “Are you Josef?”. I immediately became aware before he even spoke that it wasn’t him. This man was at least 10 years too young and much thinner. As he spoke, “Sorry, no I am not”, he had no trace of an accent. It was perfect American English. I was somewhat disappointed and a little embarrassed. But my word, this could have been him 10-15 years ago!

Oh well. This is my recent street story.

Do any have one to share??

About Keith Goldstein

Lives and works in New York City.
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6 Responses to Denizens of the Street. Share a Street Story.

  1. loisajay says:

    But you have to wonder if he does not get asked that question quite often? I hope he walked away with a little spring in his step! Sorry for your disappointment, Keith….

  2. An update to this story. After looking at a few video interviews and listening to Josef speak English, I came to the conclusion that the man I saw and spoke to was Koudelka. Why he would have lied when I asked if he was he? I have no idea.

  3. Adam Isler says:

    Yes – mine’s worse. About 10 years ago I’m, walking down Broadway in the 90s. I see a guy with a digital Leica over his shoulder. There was only 1 model back then, I think and they were pretty rare. Of course, I’ve never had one and can’t really use them because I really don’t see well enough to focus a rangefinder in time for grab shots in the street so I ask him, how do you like that?

    He tells me he loves it; he’s been shooting with Leicas for over 40 years and this one give him great big files to work with. We nod at each other and move on. But after I go I’m thinking he looked awfully familiar. On a hunch I look him up and discover I’ve just asked Joel Meyerowitz how he likes Leicas and not shown much enthusiasm for his answer. Color me sheepish.

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