New York City is home to many photographers. However, the latest street photography offering; Fill The Frame (Director: Tim Huynh). Focuses, on the not so well known, but a diverse cast of street photographers, Jonathan Higbee, Paul Kessel, Dimitri Mellos, Julia Gillard, Lauren Welles, Mathias Wasik, Melissa Breyer, and Melissa O’Shaughnessy. Whilst the cast may seem diverse from a gender perspective and background. The cast does not feature any African-American or Asian-American photographers. Where is Andre D. Wagner, what about Corky Lee, and Eli Reed et al?
Sadly, Young Kwok Lee passed away. Lee, who was committed to both reestablishing the artistic and documented contributions of Asian-Americans to the authentic record and to archive their present-day lives and battles, particularly those living in New York, passed on Wednesday in Queens. He was 73 years old.
His longtime partner, Karen Zhou, said the cause was Covid-19. He had been receiving hospital care for much of January. We are in no doubt that, Corky Lee leaves behind a legacy of work, that can only strengthen the cultural history of an iconic city. New York City, is well documented and this collective of photographers, puts their stamp firmly on a different perspective, albeit with the support of known artists like Jeff Mermelstein, Joel Meyerowitz, Richard Sandler and Matt Weber. There is also a string of interviews that tell the narrative through Colin Westerbeck author of Bystander 1999, and Michael Ernest Sweet. Street photography is an ever-changing genre in photography. It encompasses the past through analogue means and the future through digital technology, during one of the interviews Jeff Mermelstein elaborates on the beauty of iphonography with an iPhone. How it works, and how seemingly easy it is to have a camera on your phone, it is lightweight and versatile. What more could you want to document the street? The film touches on the discovery of the late Vivian Maier, and how her discovery leads to re-writing the history books. Vivian Maier style was primarily candid street portraiture, it underlines what is missing from street photography, and the documentation of children living their lives in the city. Helen Levitt was just one practitioner who regularly practised this art form.
Images today are focused on geometry, linear, light, shadow and multi-layered. Whilst the film does touch upon this, it feels like a skimmed edit. It leaves you asking questions but wanting much more. Everybody Street, this is not. The film doesn’t feature a music score that states hipsters much watch this, but there is an underlying narrative. It does feel nostalgic watching this documentary play out, especially when the reality of a worldwide pandemic spells it out, how are these photographers fairing today? Following them around the city and the generic background interviews adds a little more depth to the feature, especially with a frank and open chat with Jonathan Higbee, leads to a world street photography award, for his cover image of World Street Photography Book #3. Admittedly, this film focuses on a new wave of photographers young and old who enjoy documenting life for what it is in the Big Apple. Well worth seeking out, whether you want to swoon over the images, or are just beginning to get into street photography as a means of self-expression. This film has a great feel to it. However, the downside is it doesn’t feature photographers whom I would have liked to see featured. Overall its a great introduction to street photography from an up and coming film director.