Beacon photographer searches for fleeting images

Thomas Stringer, who lives in Beacon, is concerned about soaring rents and development in the city.

To document the issue — and to capture vérité moments on the street — he totes around a Minolta Autocord camera that he found in his grandmother’s basement. (He also uses a digital Fujifilm camera.)

It can be difficult to reduce issues of development into a photo frame, but Stringer, 29, says he is “trying to objectively capture the effect of what’s happening. It’s not all bad and it’s not all good.”

The manual-focus Autocord was introduced by Minolta in 1961.(Wikimedia)
The manual-focus Autocord was introduced by Minolta in 1961. (Wikimedia)

The recent teardown of a building near the Salvation Army on Main Street caught his eye.

“The building is now a pile of scrap metal lying next to what looks like an abandoned church. I like the juxtaposition.”

He photographs residents as they go about their day. One photo shows a woman sweeping the sidewalk. Another captures the moment a man carrying a boy on his shoulders lined up with a pole.

Stringer’s first experience with a camera came during high school in Westchester County when he took a photography class that included darkroom developing. (The year after he graduated, the course pivoted to the iPhone.) He says his interest lapsed while he worked in the sound industry.

“I was the first one in, the last one out and there was so much gear to set up and strike down that I couldn’t see myself doing it forever,” he says. “That vampire lifestyle isn’t healthy.” Today he works as an audiovisual professional at a conference center.

Thomas Stringer
Thomas Stringer

Stringer moved to Beacon in 2019 when a friend bought a house. There, he met his fiancée. Persistent rent increases — he had to sell a camera to pay for one — fueled his interest in what he considers the city’s housing crisis. He credits the local arts community for rekindling his interest in photography.

Sometimes, Stringer worries that he is exploiting his subjects. “I could talk with them before I shoot, but those pictures turn out like family photos,” he says. “Asking for a picture ruins the moment.”

He shoots mostly on Main Street and has thought about exploring Fishkill Avenue. “I’ve seen some characters there, a lot of disheveled people, so it’s a strange moral line to dance around,” he says.

Once, he found a great shot on Main Street but stopped himself. “The ballet school has beautiful windows, which I love because they divide the frame,” he said. “Then I realized that taking photos [through the window] could be construed as a little creepy.”

Behind The Story

Type: News

News: Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

Marc Ferris is a freelance journalist based in Croton-on-Hudson.