It's A Kodak (Er, Kojak) Moment by David McMahon

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It's A Kodak (Er, Kojak) Moment by 

It was very late on a New York summer evening when I watched this man deftly folding cigars at a little table, out on a street in Little Italy. He was so quick that he made it look as easy as origami for beginners.

It was the long weekend before the Fourth of July celebrations last year (2010) and the atmosphere on the crowded streets was amazing. I watched him for a while before going up to speak to him. When I asked if I could possibly take his picture, he agreed with a grin. And despite the fact that the street was in heavy shadow and the dusk light wasn’t really strong enough for portrait photography, I had to take up the challenge.

As you can see from the reflection in his sunglasses, it wasn’t dark, but the sun had long since set and we were about half an hour away from nightfall. I was just hoping he wouldn’t ask me to sit down beside him and emulate his dexterity at the job. I would have failed miserably.

I do not crop, enhance or post-edit my images in any way. Shot with a Pentax K100D, using a Sigma 18-125mm lens. F5.6, 1/45 sec, ISO 800, focal length 125mm.

Featured in CAPTION FUN, February 2011.


Walkley Award-nominated journalist, novelist and wedding photographer at

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  • Ronald Rockman
    Ronald Rockmanabout 4 years ago

    Excellent capture.

  • Thanks, Ronald. Would have loved to shoot this in clear afternoon light, or even half an hour earlier!

    – David McMahon

  • Ronald Rockman
    Ronald Rockmanabout 4 years ago

    Hi David,

    He looks like the late Teli Sevalis aka Kojak.

    It’s such a great pleasure to find subjects like that, I had that experience with my shot of Maxine,

    I was waiting for my wife outside the Old Post Office in Elizabeth Street whilst she shopped at DJ’s, I was sitting in the car when I spotted Maxine in an outside coffee shop. Leica had given me their new Digiluxl camera to play with the day before. I grabbed it off the back seat and walked up to her and said “May I take your photo” she agreed and voila.
    She told me her name was Maxine and asked me if I knew of redbubble.
    I went home and become the 350th person to be a member. I emailed her the shots but never heard back from her.

  • What a great story, Ronald. I have to go and track down your Maxine image. I knew you’d joined RB a lot earlier than me, but wow – the 350th member! Love the story ….

    – David McMahon

  • dedmanshootn
    dedmanshootnabout 4 years ago

    “who love’s ya baby!” fun title and good shot

  • Funny thing is, we think along the same lines. My initial title, believe it or not, was Who Loves Ya, Baby – and then I changed it just before posting the image. (BTW, the results of the lion tamer image title-writing contest are just posted!)

    – David McMahon

  • icesrun
    icesrunabout 4 years ago

    What an art that would be!! That is a profession that goes back so very far! Wonderful capture!

  • Origami baffles me! Thanks for your visit and kind comment.

    – David McMahon

  • MsLynn
    MsLynnabout 4 years ago

    What a great close up.

  • Thank you, Ms Lynn. He was very welcoming of the camera.

    – David McMahon

  • Josie Jackson
    Josie Jacksonabout 4 years ago

    I think the lighting is fabulous, and love the reflection in his glasses, this is a great image, you did extremely well :o)x

  • Thanks so much, Josie. I wanted to shoot him exactly where he was sitting, without asking him to move in any way.

    – David McMahon

  • Judi Rustage
    Judi Rustageabout 4 years ago

    I dont know what I enjoyed most… the great portrait or the excellent prose :)

  • What a great comment, Judi. Thank you, on both counts.

    – David McMahon

  • CJTill
    CJTillabout 4 years ago

    That was a great character Kojak, and this is a great portrait, David.

  • Many thanks, Colin. Really appreciate it.

    – David McMahon

  • Jacqueline Wilkinson
    Jacqueline Wil...about 4 years ago

    Super Portrait :)

  • Thank you very much, Jacqueline. He was very kind to let me take this shot.

    – David McMahon

  • Georgie Hart
    Georgie Hartabout 4 years ago

    Looks like a true character, fabulous work David.

  • Thanks very much, Georgie. Delighted that this image has been featured.

    – David McMahon

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