May 8, 1897 [Fifth Avenue, New York]
I find it increasingly difficult to rise above sentimentality. Watching the passers-by on Fifth Ave.—many of them turning toward us, pleased, even eager, to be photographed; others, backs turned, faces averted, either oblivious to or studiously ignoring the camera—I thought little of the composition, or the skill of the photographer. I know that the camera is an eye—but the eye leads its consumed object only to the mind, where reality becomes a memory. And so here is my opportunity for sentimentality, watching the New Yorkers promenade: If cinema persists, so then will these little snippets, these glancing moments, long after the persons represented by the images are gone. So I am looking at living beings who, in the act of being photographed, are already near-effluence, moving into my eyes, my mind, my memory. And silly fool that I am, all I wanted to do was to cry out a promise to remember them all my days.