Here Kitty Kitty :: New Street Photography

This month’s promotional mailer and the inspiration for a new gallery on my site is based on this poor lady I recently came across in Times Square. Evidently she did not have the proper permit to be posing for photos with tourists and a few of New York’s finest were telling her she needed to get lost. In those words. “Get lost lady.” I think she was already lost. My new street gallery can be found on the main page of this site. It’s called “Here kitty kitty.” (note: using your arrow keys is the easiest way to navigate the new galleries)

This work is a departure from my editorial and commercial portraiture work. It’s taking me back to the journalistic roots that I grew from when I started pursuing photography 15 years ago.

Street photography is a difficult way of shooting for me for a number of reasons. In my commercial work I am in control of every aspect of a photograph. I control the subjects, the environment, and most importantly, the light. Street shooting is the antithesis to this. I’m in control of nothing . I also struggle with the emotions that I am part voyeur and part thief. It is not uncommon for me to spot an interesting character on the street and start to trail them. I’ve followed some people for more than an hour all while stopping for brief seconds to put my lens on another subject along the way. I steal personal moments. There they are just going about their day and I show up, take a moment of it, and push it to tens of thousands of people through social media. It’s fascinating, exciting, and kind of pervy. I love my job. :)

If you would like to see more of my street work, miscellaneous personal photos, and partially completed projects then I invite you to check out my visual dumping ground over at 500px.




  • Gabe Sturdevant said on August 16, 2011

    Have you ever been caught following these people? Crazy how different places require different things. Here, you don’t need a permit for anything. And the permits you do need (putting a canopy tent on a sidewalk) are free. Yet this woman cant pose for pics with people?

    As an aside, love the kids shirt.

  • Kategraphy said on August 16, 2011


    I like that picture. It is really good!

    In Germany, were I live at the moment, it’s not as easy to do Street Photography. Every person is allowed to decide who photographs them and what happens to the picture, so you would need permission (best: written) from everyone taking part in the photographed scene. There are some exceptions, but mostly this is it… I hate it!

    Love, Kate

  • Takki said on August 16, 2011

    I love your honest and raw words and even more your photographs. You brought it right to the point. Street photographers are thieves. And your somewhat of a master thief.
    Watch out – somebody might be following you right now!

  • Michael Montalto said on August 16, 2011

    I like the gallery Zack. It’s an interesting twist in terms of the other types of work that you do. I have a couple of favorites, including the 90’s Hip Hop trio & the kid who is “telling you you’re number 1!”.

    I have to admit though, something about some of those images seems a bit flat. Did you use a different camera to shoot those? Did the medium change? Now that I’m thinking about this the fact that I’m so curious about it could mean that I’m more interested in it than I had thought.


  • Titus Winters said on August 16, 2011

    I saw that woman when she was out in Times Square a couple weeks ago, she was very photo-worthy (although since I was out of dollars I wasn’t able to get her to stop for a decent shot.) I love how you caught her here, although now I feel extra bad for her. :-/

  • Rick said on August 16, 2011

    Damn, that’s a great shot, with so many layers. Kitty lady; framed by cops; kid with look of disdain on his face; busy NYC street. Awesome!

  • David said on August 16, 2011

    Nice serie !

  • Eric said on August 16, 2011

    What a great start, I’m glad to see you are raising your lens to the streets and stealing moments in time. I wonder how the conversation went after you snapped the lens on the kid giving you the bird? Did you simply nod and walk on or did you stop and chat a while? Thanks for the inspiration to get off my… and hit the streets.

  • Zack said on August 16, 2011

    @Eric – I was on a subway car and snapped that as the doors were closing. No conversation to be had. :)

  • claude etienne said on August 16, 2011

    Hi Zack,

    Great picture! However, I’m wondering if there aren’t any legal ramifications here. The woman photographed is caught breaking the law, and thus, shown in a very unflattering way. There is also a minor in the picture. Street photography is about capturing moments. The person is photographed without his/her knowledge, and, photographs that fall under the editorial label don’t usually need releases, but, it’s not an absolute. Of course, if you managed to obtain model releases, then, everything I said here is irrelevant.

  • Zack said on August 17, 2011

    @Claude – If you are on public property and photograph people on public property you can shoot just about anything you want and do what you please with them as long as they don’t show up in advertisements or other commercial outlets. You’re correct in saying editorial applications do not need a release. If you could get sued for unflattering photos then a lot of paparazzi would be out of business. :) Which I don’t think would be a bad thing for some of them. As for “moments”, how often do you see Hello Kitty flanked by police officers? :)


  • Debbi said on August 16, 2011

    This looks like a Police State to me. I’m embarrassed to be from a country that allows this harassment. She seems to be hurting no one.
    Thx for enlightening me Zack

  • Zack said on August 17, 2011

    @Debbi – She needed a performance permit from what I understand about Times Square. I don’t feel it’s a police state. She was there trying to make money and practicing commerce on public property is typically something one needs to have permission to do in countries all over the world. Without a permitting process the streets around tourist destinations could get out of control very quickly with unchecked people trying to make money in a public space. If she had the proper paperwork from the city she would be able to do her thing all she wants. Think of the permit as a business license. Just because a city requires you to have a business license doesn’t mean it’s a police state.

    Also, the police didn’t handcuff and throw her in jail. They just informed her that she didn’t have the right paperwork and she needed to move on.


  • Jessica Sweeney said on August 16, 2011

    Awesome photo. Poor woman. All dressed up and apparently no place to go. Seems pretty inoffensive to me. Was she charging?

  • Zack said on August 17, 2011

    @Jessica – Yes, most of these folks in character costumes are asking for money to pose with them and take a picture. Or… they just have a fetish they walk out into the public space. :)


  • Patrick said on August 16, 2011

    What a great picture. I agree with others: there are several layers here and they really work. I’m so sick of our over-legalized society and what amounts to basically killing off an art form for the sake of what? This all sacred control over our image? All this while everyone exposes their entire lives on Facebook… Sigh.

    Here in Quebec we’ve passed laws similar to Europe — in essence we can’t take pictures of anyone without their consent, public setting or otherwise. But to hell with it, I’m still doing it. I was in France recently and I gave my X100 a solid workout, knowing full well I was going against the local laws. And I’ve posted the resulting series on my site.

    Wouldn’t it be ironic if our century ended up with a poorer public visual record just because of our almighty self-importance and the laws that go with it?

  • Zack said on August 17, 2011

    @Patrick – Well said. Well said indeed.


  • claude etienne said on August 17, 2011

    You are absolutely right about shooting on a public street as far as the US is concerned. Unfortunately, as some have pointed out, many countries have draconian rules. In regards to Paparazzi, I have to disagree with you. The paparazzi are photographing celebs not “regular people” and the law, in the US at least, makes a clear distinction between the two. Anyway, I’m not criticizing you for taking that picture. Street photographers are documenting our civilization and that is important. You’ve probably heard of Vivian Maier, a nanny whose amazing photographs were recently discovered. She documented NYC and Chicago life for more than 40 years.

  • Ian Kreidich said on August 17, 2011

    I like that you are including some more of your personal work on your website. Did you have any reservations about doing this? I’ve been avoiding mixing personal work with professional but you’ve done it in a really nice cohesive way.

  • Łukasz Rusajczyk said on August 20, 2011

    Great gallery! Maybe not technically perfect… But I’m living in Poland and street photos like that shows me glance of interesting moments from true, normal life in USA, which is fascinating.

  • greg urbano said on August 20, 2011

    i would have never guessed there was a permit needed to pose for photos in nyc, second your personal insight into the way you view street photography was great reading, i really liked that paragraph!

  • Rey said on August 23, 2011

    Is really a good thing i´ve been stopped by your blog, love your way of saying and the good photos i found in your gallery and recommended places, i hope you the best from this tiny island in the caribbean.

  • Adam Kenner said on August 29, 2011

    Would love to know the tech details behind these shots, x100 but how did you focus, are you shooting from the hip, manual or aperture-priority exposure, etc. They are so sharp and tonally complete!

  • Zack said on September 1, 2011

    @Adam – Check my x100 review here on the blog.


  • dtbsz said on August 30, 2011

    I might not be showing you anything new but here’s a couple of links of my 2 fav. (mostly) street photographers:

    Hope yer’ doing well.


    PS: The new shots are great.

  • Cindy Brown | Atlanta Street Photographer said on September 4, 2011

    Love this one, Zach.
    I bought an X100 after reading your gushing review and finally got to take it out for a stroll at DragonCon today.

  • Tony Sale said on October 14, 2011

    Nice work your photo clearly tells the story – cant help feeling a bit sorry for the woman. What I can’t work out is who is the boy in the background, is he part of the story or a nosey bystander? or would a nosey bystander be a pert of the story anyway?

  • CyberGus said on November 3, 2011

    Thank you for the inspiration and discovering of the X100 :)

    I’m using 500px too for street photography and sometimes other works: (latest 14 pics with X100)

    Besides that I’m a big fan of your work.

    Greetings from Mexico City :)

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