Since 2005, The New Yorker magazine has been running a caption contest. Every week, they post one of their iconic cartoons with no caption. They invite readers to submit caption ideas, then select the top three and allow readers to vote for the final caption.
Some of my Street People pictures, it turns out, have a similar potential.
How do I know this?
Lately, I’ve been posting images from my Street People books on Facebook, mainly on groups interested in vintage NYC photographs. These posts get hundreds of Likes and quite a few comments, often because group members have a personal connection to the photographs. For instance, when I posted this photo of two guys hanging out at an Upper West Side pizza shop, I got comments from people who fondly remember the 35-cent slices, one from someone who, as a kid, used to play arcade games there, and even one from a woman who, ten years after I left the Upper West Side, lived in the apartment below mine on W. 98th Street.
I also got remarks like, “We never dressed that bad! Those guys can’t be New Yorkers!” alongside confessions that “I had a pair of pants like that.”
But the most interesting comments have been on a photo I took of these kids arguing in front of their apartment building:
When I posted this image, I mentioned that I still wondered who had won the argument. This offhand remark invited answers to the implied question.
Some of the comments hypothesized about the immediate outcome:
“She’s got the wide stance, which is never good.”
“I’m betting she won. She’s like, ‘Boy you better get that finger out of my face.'”
“Are you kidding? Of course the girl won!”
Others saw much further into the future:
He lost, and she married him!
Married for the last 39 years…
Now they’re both in the Senate
But my favorite was this:
“Boy ‘splaining” would get my vote for caption of the week.
If this photo were a New Yorker cartoon, how would you caption it?
Email me with your ideas or post them as comments on the blog.
I’ll be back next week with the results.
P.S. Jim Fitts, former director of the Boston Photographic Resource Center, has reviewed Street People Portfolio on his oddly named website, photoweenie.com. Here’s a direct link to his review: Street People Portfolio review
Copyright 2022, David J. Bookbinder
Street People: Invisible New York Made Visible
Street People Portfolio: Invisible New York Made Visual
The Art of Balance: Staying Sane in an Insane World
Paths to Wholeness: Fifty-Two Flower Mandalas