PDN: What images are you
most proud of, or the most
hard-won, or otherwise stand
out in your mind?
D.P.E.: There’s an image I shot
of these two women—one is
old, one is young. The young
attractive women is sort of
looking off into the distance and
really isn’t paying attention to
anything and the older woman
is looking right at me, and it’s
almost is like we both sort of
know what this moment is about.
We’re both aware that she’s on
the other side of life, [in contrast
to] the young woman who is sort
of coming into life.
There’s another image I’ve
always liked of a woman on the
Staten Island Ferry. She was
standing in one of those sort
of window cutouts on the back
of the boat on the outside and
something about it felt very like
a 1940s or ’50s image. She was
dressed in the little hat, and she
was looking to the right just
slightly, and there was the fog
blowing in, and I thought, this
is really beautiful. I hope I don’t
mess up [the exposure].
PDN: What gear do you use?
D.P.E.: I shoot with a Leica M7
and a particular 35 mm lens, and
I always use essentially T-max
films, 100 and 400.
PDN: Why don’t you shoot in color?
D.P.E.: I’m just more drawn to
black and white. I think it’s got
more mood, and more tonality
and I always like images that
have that nostalgic feeling.
PDN: How much time do you
spend shooting on the streets?
D.P.E.: A full day for me is 15
rolls. And I sometimes will do
that for weeks on end.
PDN: How long did it take you
to get good at it?
D.P.E.: About 15 years ago,
[my work] started getting better,
and I feel like that came with
confidence on the street. I’ve also
read a lot of articles about how to
get better at it. There are times
when I’m shooting 50 rolls a week
and it’s all terrible. And then there
are times when it really flows.
PDN: What were the biggest
challenges you had while you
were learning to shoot
D.P.E.: One challenge for me is the
climate on the streets nowadays.
[Before the early 2000s], nobody
questioned what we were doing.
Now the first thing you get is
yelled at: What are you going to
do with that picture?
PDN: How do you handle
D.P.E.: You just try to smile and
tell people, It’s art! Or: I’m just
doing it for a photography class!
I didn’t mean to bother you.
You know, I’m just practicing.
[If they strongly object] I usually
just back out and say, no problem.
I won’t use that image.
PDN: When it’s not flowing,
what do you do?
D.P.E.: I often get a lot of junk and
that is just what happens in street
photography. So you keep shooting.
One or two times I’ve been really
scolded, and it just shakes you and
you can’t even get back into a flow.
Those days I just go home and
think, well, those pictures weren’t
meant for me today.
Sometimes, to build confidence,
I go to places where lots of other
photographers are, which are
places I usually completely avoid.
The Easter Parade is a great
example, because everybody
there is OK with you taking their
picture. And then as you get your
flow, peel away from that, and
carry that confidence to more
isolated environments and that
I also suggest that people
shoot film. With digital, you’re
constantly looking [at what
you’ve shot]. With film, you are
constantly hunting because you
don’t have a chance to look at
anything until you’ve developed
the roll. So that was one thing that
sort of always kept me going.
PDN: How often and in what ways
do you interact with subjects?
D.P.E.: Ninety-eight percent of
the time, I am not interacting
or asking permission.
PDN: How do you stay invisible
D.P.E.: It’s not as hard as you
think. The camera is quiet
because it’s a rangefinder. That is
part of what allows me to get close.
I sort of know right away where
I am exposure-wise, just from
shooting so much. The focus
aspect is tricky, because you do
have to do that quickly. On a
rangefinder, obviously you can
sort of guess and set it at maybe
two to three feet. I do just sort of
stand there [near subjects] and
I keep my camera down at first,
and then I just go for it. You have
to just do it.
LEF T: Escudero prefers to shoot in black and white.
“I think it’s got more mood, and more tonality and I
always like images that have that nostalgic feeling,”
he says. BELOW: Working with film, “you are constantly
hunting because you don’t have a chance to look at
anything until you’ve developed the roll,” he says.