"Just making some dinner money."

While hanging out at Grand Central today, I noticed this man holding a really interesting looking camera. So, I decided to approach him to ask where he got this camera from and what he was doing with it; talking to strangers is something I normally don't do as I'm pretty introverted. To my surprise, we ended up having a really pleasant conversation for about a half hour.

His name is Louis Mendes, an 80 year old street photographer from New York City who is known for his signature "Press" camera, which he purchased in 1959. It's one of those cameras where each flash bulb can only be used once per picture. When I asked Louis what he was working on today, he said, "Just making some dinner money." We chatted for a while about Louis' "different" approach to photography, where he's traveled to and wants to travel next. His goal is to make enough money to visit San Francisco for the first time, and attend Super Bowl 50.

Louis takes portraits of people on polaroid film and sells it to them for a set price. And strangers approach him all the time for a portrait; it's never the other way around. After learning so much about Louis' story, I couldn't help but ask him to take my portrait, even though I really dislike photos of myself. He happily said yes... and as I started to re-position myself, he told me to not move and stay exactly where I was. It was very inspiring (and a little funny) to watch this man operate this huge and complicated looking camera in front of his face... Louis positioned himself, took a little time to adjust the camera settings, and took my picture. I really appreciated this, and was glad to have met Louis Mendes.