Street Shots/Hooky: New York City Photographs, 1970s (2013) – By Matt Barry

Filmmaker, director and photographer Rich Allen gives us a rich and evocative portrait of New York City in Street Shots/Hooky: New York City Photographs – 1970s, which contains his photographs that conjure up a New York which is a very different place than it is now.

Street Shots/Hooky actually tells two stories. The first is a remarkably personal story about how Allen started taking photos during his time as a bike messenger in New York in the early 1970s. These photographs reveal an eye for detail, with a knack for capturing peoples’ stories in a single snapshot. The second story is the creation of his short film, Hooky, which he made after receiving a filmmaking grant. Unsure of what to film, Allen turned to the local neighborhood residents, particularly a group of kids whom he’d used as a subject for his photography, and set about depicting their experiences on film. As it turns out, making Hooky turned out to be quite a dramatic experience in itself, which Allen does a remarkable job of describing in his book.

Allen’s photographs have a distinctly cinematic quality about them, with a real eye for characters and their surroundings. It seems appropriate that his film, Making ‘Hooky’, should return to some of these same subjects. Allen includes a DVD copy of his film, Making ‘Hooky’, in a sleeve on the back cover of the book, giving readers the chance to see this film for themselves. Making ‘Hooky’ begins by recalling the incredible events surrounding the production, providing background on the neighborhood kids who serve as Allen’s subjects, and his efforts to make his short film, which was faced with such difficulties as one of the kids getting lost during a trip to Battery Park, and the actor playing the cop trying to pick up girls in between takes. The surviving footage from the movie is included in Making ‘Hooky’, featuring the kids’ staged excursion to Battery Park and stealing a cop’s gun, leading him on a frenzied chase in an effort to retrieve the weapon from the mischief makers. The film reveals Allen’s penchants for interesting characters and humor.

For more information on Street Shots/Hooky, as well as Rich Allen’s other projects and City Pound Productions, visit his website at