“MORE THAN THE RAINBOW ”
Taxi Driver, Street Photographer Matt Weber
Matt Weber has been photographing New York City for thirty years and he has seen it all. This new film, “More Than a Rainbow” is a chronicle of his life but it is also a conversation about photography, artistic expression and New York City. Weber has attempted to capture many, many stories since he first stated taking photos from the window of the cab he used to drive. He is devoted to candidly showing New Yorkers and their lives (especially those on the fringes of society) and he presents us with a document of his town that most will never have the chance to experience.
The film brings verite, still photography and interviews together against a background of wonderful music by Thelonious Monk. The interviews are with other photographers including Ralph Gibson, Zoe Strauss, and Eric Kroll, as well as designer Todd Oldham.
Weber retired from driving a cab so he could devote himself to taking pictures of the streets of New York and the video here is much like those streets in the way that it rambles and scatters. There are times that the film just goes along seeming to have no idea of where it is heading but that does not affect the idea that here is a man who is fulfilling his dreams.
The other photographers that we meet here are competitive yet supportive of one another but they are also critical. They talk about things like the merits of film versus digital and the importance of finding one’s voice. The filmmaker interviews most people one-on-one, but segments are edited deftly together to make the film feel like a good conversation, moving seamlessly from one topic to the next.
We see many of Weber’s photos, learn a bit about his past, and watch him go to work. The film camera tends to mirror Weber’s still one, gliding close to the ground behind him as he hunts for a shot, as if to get the same view as the camera hanging around his neck, or shooting just what he’s shooting, ending with a freeze frame that then turns black and white and becomes one of his photos. And when Weber starts to experiment with shooting in color and talks about how some things look better that way, the filmmakers prove his point by showing us a shot he took at Yankee Stadium, first in subdued black and white and then in lively color, which does a much better job of conveying the ballpark’s energy. This is quite an effective way to use moving pictures to demonstrate something fundamental about still photography, and it’s typical of how this thoughtful movie uses one man’s story to explore the medium in which he works.
The work here is also of the director Dan Weschler who describes the quest of all photographers for that perfect alchemy of subject and form, composition and timing, that makes one image stand apart from thousands of mere snapshots. Weber discusses the elusive pursuit of this at length.
Weber’s photos speak for themselves— they are uncanny glimpses of the city in its “decrepitude, brittle poetry, tireless bustle and rugged beauty”. Weber prefers black-and-white 35mm film that he develops himself in his home studio.