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Joe Wigfall, The Street Shots Challenge

The Camera Club of New York
336 West 37th street, 646-829-4000
Hell's Kitchen
July 10 - August 8, 2008
Reception: Thursday, July 10, 7 - 9 PM
Web Site

Selected Entries from WNYC’s Online Photography Exhibit On Display at The Camera Club of New York

WNYC Radio today announced the winner of its Street Shots Challenge, an online street photography competition. Writer, critic and guest judge Luc Sante presided over the evaluation of 9,013 photos submitted by 992 professional and amateur participants, and selected Harlem native Joe Wigfall as the winner of the competition’s top prize. (Photos attached.)

“Joe Wigfall combines psychological acuity with impeccable composition—on the fly, of course—and a deep, virtually Rembrandt-etching feeling for tonality,” says Sante. “Mr. Wigfall knows his people intimately—you sense that he finds a bit of himself in every one of his subjects. In addition, there’s a mystery in every shot, something left unresolved that works on our imaginations. You can’t see his pictures once without wanting to go back to them again and again.”

Wigfall, 51, has been making photos for over 20 years, but this is his first exhibition. Once a semi-professional wedding and hip-hop photographer, he gave up that line of work to make photos as he pleased. “I wanted to shoot from my heart,” he says. Wigfall first learned about street photography when he was uploading his photos onto Flickr about three years ago and discovered the work of another Flickr user, who goes by the online handle Paul A. Roid (Markus Hartel). At that moment, he had a revelation. “I wanted to capture the soul of what people were experiencing at any given moment.”

“Shooting street demands an inner boldness to get the shot, but an outer humility to see some of you in everyone you meet,” says Wigfall. “When I see moments in the street I go for them, but do my best not to draw undue attention to myself. I feel when you intrude into any particular moment, you interrupt it and the spontaneity is gone. I like people to be who they are and do what they do without pretense. Capturing that excites me and I try to show that in the images I display.”

Wigfall commutes from New Rochelle to work in midtown as a lawyer’s assistant, spending every lunch hour shooting the streets around his job. The high density of people on the street, especially during lunch hour, fills his photos with palpable energy. Strangers whiz past each other or struggle alone, each on his own private mission, connecting with nothing else so much as the street. Wigfall has found that as the week wears on, people’s defenses start to drop: “Although I shoot Monday through Friday, capturing the moment becomes easier as the week progresses because everyone seems to relax a little,” he says.

Luc Sante has written extensively about the history of New York as well as photography, and is the author of Low Life (1991), Evidence (1992), The Factory of Facts (1998), Walker Evans (1999), Kill All Your Darlings: Pieces 1990-2005 (2007) and numerous articles on photography.

Street Shots is WNYC Radio’s multiplatform series exploring what it means to be a street photographer in New York City today. The series includes six video profiles of well-known and emerging photographers, ranging from Bruce Gilden, a Magnum photographer who hunts for characters on city sidewalks, to Jake Dobkin, a professional amateur who works to capture Brooklyn’s changing landscape. Nearly ten thousand photos were uploaded to the Street Shots Challenge Flickr site, and the Challenge has been written up in blogs in more than a dozen languages. A group of street photographers in Barcelona were inspired to start their own site when they heard about WNYC’s project
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