“VeeCee”, Paterson, New Jersey.
VeeCee, as she references herself, was one of my first forays into doing street portraits of people who I didn’t know.
On a nice March evening, I was walking down Market Street in Paterson, New Jersey when I noticed her daughter, aunt, and her. Though I can’t recall how the conversation began, I do know that somewhere she made mention of how she used to model and that she noticed my camera.
(This was when I was transitioning from shooting automatic to strictly manual.)
Without hesitation, she accepted my invitation to take a couple of pictures with the Paterson “skyline” in the background. When she received the pictures, she was thrilled with the results.
VeeCee had recently moved to Paterson from the Bronx. She was dying to either get back to the Bronx, or head to Florida.
She’s now in South Florida.
“Mercedes”, Paterson, New Jersey, March 2012
This past semester, I enjoyed arriving in Paterson early to get a feel for the city. (Seriously. I would drive down the side streets to see the city, and its people, up close. Yes, I learned the Art of Living Dangerously from my dad)
Every Tuesday and Thursday, I was drawn to a mural which saluted Black historical figures. And each day, I would encounter Mercedes who would enjoy her coffee and a single cigarette before heading to work, right beside the mural.)
She is a Dominican immigrant who has been in the United States for over twenty years.
Mercedes was a model when she first arrived in the US during the late 1980s. Today, she is a teacher’s aide. (But still enjoys being in front of the camera.)