Vienna, 2023

Vienna street scene

I was leading a workshop in Mexico several years ago and started the program with some photographs I had made earlier, street scenes of local people framed against the colorful buildings. A day or so later I had a student disappointed because she was not fast enough to catch any street portraits like I had shown. Neither am I most of the time, as I explained to her. Set a trap.

In working on the street, I find a background I like, frame it carefully with lens choice and camera position, shoot a few tests shots to analyze exposure and composition, “pin” the corners of the desired framing for quick checks during shooting, and then wait for a subject to move through my frame, looking for the just right moment, gesture, shape/tone/color juxtaposition, placement against the ground.

Except, not this time. I saw the background and the guy in black moving across all at once. It was an autonomic response, raising the camera, framing, and shooting too fast for conscious thought. Catch your breath, click. I waited around for another 10 minutes or so trying different people walking by, but nothing ever looked as good as the guy in black. I’m pleased to say, also, that this is the exact framing of the quick shot, no cropping or straightening.

Vienna was the end point of our bicycle ride from Passau, and we spent a few days hanging out in the old part of town, inside the Ringstrasse. It is an interesting mix of classical and whimsical. Take a look at my new gallery, Vienna Snapshots, 2023, at