I have not been downtown often in the last 3 years. Before that, I spent a couple of days of the week there shooting the street. To improve my languishing skills, I met Ted last Wednesday. He lives in Seattle, and I wanted to see how he approached the genre. We met just before noon at Dick’s Drive-In in Capitol Hill (https://www.ddir.com/menu/). Besides Lunch, he wanted to take a couple of shots of the scene. The first thing I saw when I arrived was a Security officer. Ted was as surprised as I was and told me that we would probably not be able to get close to the counter, so I should just take a picture of the guard himself. So I did.
After Lunch, we walked down Broadway toward Pine Street. There was a bus stop with a couple of people waiting for the bus. He stopped me and said, “Look down; what do you see?” “Concrete covered with white paint and a man’s foot.” “Take the picture.” “Why?” “You want to show the world that you are documenting homo sapiens in an environment all their own.” At this moment, I realized meeting Ted might not have been a good idea.
We walked only a few feet when he stopped me again, “Look, an artist!” “So what?” “A good street photographer always includes a picture of a street artist.” I decided to humor him and got ready to take the Artist’s image. “Stop!” “Now what?” “You must give him some money for the shot.” I got out a dollar… “A dollar? That is not enough. You must give at least $5!” I gave the Artist the money. The Artist smiled, and I was about to take the image… “Wait! We do not want his face; we want to capture his tools.” All I wanted was to watch Ted and how he worked, and what I was getting was how Ted directed others to copy his work. I want no confrontation, so I just follow his directions. I point the camera down to capture the paint bottles and canvasses when he stops me again. “Not that angle. Get on the ground and capture the scene at their level!” I did what he said, got my clothes dirty, and created an image only Ted understood.
Up to this point, I had only the image of the back of the Security Guard. I wanted people’s faces. Ted told me he wanted that too, but one must work up to the face. He said, “you have the feet; (oh yes, the bus stop image). Now you need the hands.” I wanted to tell him what he needed, but I remembered to be nice in public. I approached a young man and asked if I could photograph his hands. He put his hands up a bit but did not open them. I took the picture. Ted remarked, “you did not get his fingers; they are the important part!” “Forgive me. I am new at this foot, hands, and face routine,” I replied. He nodded, and we walked on.
We turned right at Pine. We were walking by one of those folding signs businesses sometimes have in front. There was a cup of coffee balanced on top. By this time, I was getting to know the strange ways of Ted. I said, “I suppose you want me to photograph the cup of coffee?” “Of course! Now you are beginning to see how a great photographer sees.” He thinks I have seen the light.
At least, he thought so until he saw me take this shot. He had decided that I was ready for THE FACE. He wanted me to wait for something iconic, a face that would forevermore put me on his level as a photographer. And this is the face I picked. A regular, normal, nothing spectacular man who, in the midst of the shot, says, “What are you doing?”
One Reply to “seattle. march 1. hp5 plus@800 iso. diafine #28.”
Sounds like a not-awesome day.