Photo Gallery: Olivia Zuk

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I take portraits of people I encounter while walking around the Mills/50 corridor, while riding the SunRail from the Winter Park station, or on the Lynx Lymmo downtown. Most of my time taking portraits is on foot midday on Colonial Drive. Colonial is one of the biggest and busiest roads in Central Florida brimming with off the cuff character zones such as Little Vietnam. I am very inspired by the people who I see walking around here; they are the cultural keystones for me. Much of the streets are similar and hard to define, in this case the people become the place indicators. In order to understand transit in Orlando and identify what it means to be a commuter here I observed the people of the Mills/50 corridor, SunRail, and Lynx Lymmo.

During this project I lived in Winter Park and was able to walk to the SunRail station. On my walks I would pass a few bus stops and usually ride to The Downtown Lynx Central Station. I would see the same people at the bus stop again downtown. I wondered why they chose the bus over the SunRail. I learned quickly that the SunRail was difficult to pin down, the schedule hard to read, and often inaccessible for the handicapped. I was very afraid of approaching strangers and asking for portraits. I spent the first month of this project riding alone and only taking candid photographs. Over time I got more comfortable utilizing transit here. I’ve lived in New York and commuted solely by subway and bus. In Orlando my few experiences with the bus have taken far too many hours and left me in ambiguous “destinations.” I couldn’t find the time or the inspiration to tackle the bus and only utilized it as a last resort after missing the train or getting lost. The bus rides I did take were on the Lymmo downtown; a free service provided by Lynx.

The camera I started this project out with broke. Patrick Greene let me borrow his Yashica D, a medium format camera with a twin lens. I’m fairly new to photography but have always felt an affinity towards film. I like the challenge film presents and the delayed gratification of having to process and scan.  I feel medium format is great for capturing an individual. The square makes the person the sole focus of the portrait. Looking down into a waist level viewfinder the world looks entirely different. In my lens people who are overlooked on the street struck me as beautiful. I tried my best to capture people in their natural state. I know pointing a camera in some one’s face is intimidating. At first, I would shoot and run but eventually I learned to take time with people and take multiple portraits. This is when I had the best results. It was incredibly hot and bright out this entire summer. I walked a lot, as most commuters in Orlando have to. I had the best conversations during these walks and was able to create unforced connections. Walking on the street helps to see and understand place and the people who define it. People’s stories painted the most accurate picture of transit; the one I couldn’t capture. I hope to continue this project by capturing what I’ve found to be the cruelest part of the bus system: waiting. Most bus stops are simply a pole in the ground subjecting riders to extreme heat, rain, and unruly drivers. If the bus stops are not visible in my photographs it is an accurate portrayal. Most of the people pictured I see now  in the mills/50 area but only after I started looking.

 

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