Their work requires daily, weekly and monthly shifts that are tough not just because of the grueling hours and unpredictable weather conditions they experience but also in view that the money they take home may possibly barely be enough to make ends meet on slow days. There’s thousand of street vendors in New York that practically sell everything you could possibly imagine and some things that would probably having you second guessing yourself as to whether what they’re offering is legal or not.
Immigrants run most of these establishments and depending in which neighborhood you might find yourself in, some street vendors have permission to setup and operate on streets, sidewalks, and public parks while others are completely mobile and hope for the best that their not fined and have their goods confiscated by the police.
If you’re fond of one of Wilfredo’s paintings and would like to own one, you’re best bet is to purchase it then and there because it’s unlikely you’ll find him in the same area with his truck parked on a meter that he feeds continuously and that displays his finished artwork while he’s seated on a foldable wooden chair working on another painting. He’s originally from Cancun and he’s been selling his paintings from his truck for the past 3 years all around Queens, New York. I stumbled across him in Jackson Heights.
For the reason I had mentioned before, most street vendors are generally very reluctant to have their photograph taken. Perhaps having a beefy DSLR comes across as intimidating and doesn’t help the cause but before this summer ends, I’m up for the challenge and uncomfortable effort of meeting and documenting as many street vendors as I can around New York. I generally stick to following Derek Sivers’ advice but I figured that announcing this commitment should be added pressure to push me to carry out this self-assignment. You’ll know how I’m doing based on how many portraits I share. Wish me luck!