The photographer Joel Meyerowitz loved the chaos of a mid-town New York street in the late afternoon, when the vendors couldn’t bun their dirty-water dogs fast enough and the knockoff hustlers skinned every last green tourist in sight. I have an image in my mind of the lank practitioner in workman’s clothes, bent to the human flow, dodging and weaving through the sluice and clamor, camera poised, eyes hawking the crowd, there, there, there! dipping and swerving as he honed in on that one magic moment: the ephemeral instant transformed into eternal beauty, plucked out of one-thousandth of a second. It was Meyerowitz’s delight in humanity that steered him through the run of life, and he reveled in the “intimacy in the maelstrom.”

This is the power of street photography: to give yourself over to the malleability of the universe, in order to pocket the glimmer of chance. The longer you are on the streets, the more you learn how to anticipate, react, recede, accede, intermix, proceed and ultimately perform, all in service of capturing the singular gesture never again to be repeated, the especial comma of a brow in contemplation, the unconscious mimicry of nature, the poetry of insight into the human mystery.

The talented photographer Gabriel Miranda eagerly hurls himself into the tumult in order to acquire that compression of feeling which is essentially art translated out of the bristling confusion. He has faith in the right revelation of his materials to shape the alloy of human memory.

Take what I consider to be one of his most fascinating images. Out of the depths of our discouraging time he gives us an indelible portrait of an ecstatic afternoon: a group of boys disporting in a body of water, arranged as if in a Busby Berkeley musical. The bluish surface is dappled, seemingly through the finesse of a hushing brush. Clean limbs breast the surface in sublime symmetry, and there is energy, and pleasure, to be taken from this unstinted tribute to preadolescent joy, when the worst thing waiting was the evening call of your mother, urging you indoors.

How many of us remember the pleasure we took in our young selves, free to holler and tumble until the chemistry of night resolved itself? We hold close to those memories in the anguishing hours of adulthood, and they are the sun that sings against the skin on the frostiest of days.

Miranda’s photograph is the young kin to one of my favorites, Stephen Shames’s rambunctious black and white image of boys jumping into a public pool, taken from his Bronx Boys series, begun in 1977 (and ultimately twenty-two years in the making). Like Shames, Miranda does not evade the darker truths of life, as we may judge from his all-too-familiar tableau of armed police harassing black bodies in the public sphere. Yet Miranda’s eye roams far to capture a wide array, be it the black and white shot of a prosperous looking couple in a pedicab on a New York night or a slice of Nan Goldin eroticism in the guise of a reflected nude biting into an apple.

There are young artists whose ambition cannot quite match their reach, and so what should have remained simple is overdone: they burn the house just to roast the pig. But there is restraint in Miranda’s eye, and a fine instinct for selection, so the secondary details do not overwhelm; his focus is clear. He understands when to maintain distance, as the still of the family in Halloween costume makes apparent to the viewer. The fact that they remain so far from us indicates that they themselves feel a certain remove from the new country they inhabit; and though they are growing accustomed to native habits, there is the hint of a secret wish to transport themselves, if we can judge the brace of balloons yearning to leap out of the frame as a feasible mode of travel. Isn’t it true that when the disquieting darkness threatens to envelop us, a beautiful work of art can hoist us to the clouds?

Gabriel Miranda is a Brazilian-American photographer and multi-media artist currently living in Brooklyn, New York. He became interested in social-documentary, photojournalism and street photography after discovering the works of Cartier-Bresson, Robert Frank, and Garry Winogrand. Gabriel has studied Industrial Design at the Universidade Federal Fluminense in his hometown of Niterói, Brazil, and is currently a sophomore at the SVA Photography department. In May 2015, he exhibited his works in a solo show at the Alliance Française Niterói.

Edwin Rivera is a poet, writer, Writing Instructor at SVA and Editor of The Match Factory.