Bruce Gilden Discusses His Coney Island Street Photos

For today’s street photography inspiration, we bring more Bruce Gilden stuff from his Coney Island adventures.

Whether you’re already familiar with the bold street photography of Bruce Gilden or still familiarizing yourself with his work, it’s always engaging to look back at some of his best known sets. There’s no one that can tell us the most interesting details and stories about his photos than the photographer himself, so we take once more to Gilden’s Vimeo page to revisit his snaps, this time to listen to his commentary on his Coney Island project.

“This is the first picture I ever took that I thought was good. So it’s an important picture to me.”

Gilden’s Coney Island series was one of his early works, and in fact his first major project. As he mentioned in his introduction, the neighborhood has a “looser” atmosphere where people just do whatever they want, and therefore tends to be the perfect place for spotting interesting people — or characters, as he liked to call them. Based on the street snaps he talks about in the video below, he found a lot of them.

It’s great to hear photographers, especially esteemed ones like Gilden, talk about their photos and share the stories behind them; we get to peek into their minds and creative processes. We learn what they found interesting in a scene, or in this case, what made the people Gilden calls characters worth immortalizing in photographs. Perfect examples from this commentary include the group he called “the family of crooked mouths,”  the man holding a huge inflatable plane, the woman standing behind a booth saying SEE HER CHANGE FROM BEAUTY TO BEAST, and the small man donning a suit standing under a dragon’s head. Another reason this commentary is worth every aspiring street photographer’s time is it gives an idea on Gilden’s beginnings and how his penchant for characters began. If you’re interested to know more about this Coney Island series, Magnum has an insightful interview feature with Bruce Gilden that you should definitely check out.

Screenshot from the video/