The photographic documentation of Rick Kelly, the newspaper street hawker, started out in Boston back in 1996.Every morning I would walk up to Rick and shoot a photograph of him holding up a Boston Herald newspaper in front of him. Every morning the headlines changed, the weather changed, the only thing that didn’t change was a King David cigar dangling from the side of his mouth.
The technological wrecking ball of on-line news has been eliminating the newspapers of this country. Rick Kelly is, of course, part of this equation. Once I recognized this reality, there were basically two ways to go. I could accept it passively, dispassionately, maturely, and get on with my business. Or, I could recognize the slow death of an American urban uniqueness as the tragedy that it is – and then commit myself to savoring every last exception to this rule while it still exists. For me there is so much to be said for reading the actual newspaper, and the same could be said for the experience of buying your daily news from a newspaper hawker who stands on the same corner rain or shine every day of the year.
This photographic dance between Rick Kelly and my camera lasted one year. Even now if you go to the corner of Berkley and Tremont Street in the South End of Boston, you’ll still find Rick Kelly with his stack of Boston Heralds, and of course, his signature King David cigar.