By James Maher
Name: Derek Berg (and Nikita)
Location: 9th Street and 1st Avenue
Time: 11:45 am on Monday, Oct. 8
"I've lived in the neighborhood since 1977. When I first moved in I was actually nervous on my own block. I remember people sitting in the back of Veselka at the payphones, before cellphones, with newspapers searching for jobs.
I’ve seen strippers on the street at 9 in the morning getting change. You’re never really surprised to see something you’ve never seen before. It’s kind of unusual when you’ve lived here for over 30 years to say I’ve never seen that before. It’s been very stimulating.
I used to drive a taxi. It was around the same time that they made the movie 'Taxi Driver.' I wouldn’t see it until I finished driving. I’ve been working on a serious project about taxis myself. Mine had nothing to do with passengers, just the taxis. I did pretty much all black and white until I picked up a digital camera. Black and white was my main interest. I went to digital because I kinda had to. I lost my darkroom for awhile. I now have a darkroom again so I hope to get back to it.
I also photograph dogs a lot. I love the dog stuff because I have one and they’re everywhere and fun to shoot. I’ve got a lot of dog photos in calendars and post cards and thing like that. I photograph a lot of different things. I’ve done portraits of strippers for Penthouse magazine; I’ve done weddings; all types of things. I like to keep it varied. It keeps it interesting.
Oddly enough, I didn’t do much photography around the neighborhood. There were so many homeless people or people that were having a hard time and I found it hard to point a camera at them. I mean, I have some of that stuff but it’s not what I prefer to shoot. Although now with everyone taking pictures with their cellphone, it kind of eases it up, because with a real camera it kind of looks like you know what you’re doing. There is no privacy for anybody anymore."
James Maher is a fine art and studio photographer based in the East Village. Find his website here.