I am really happy when in my search for interesting subjects I come across a person that looks out of the ordinary. I think that after you see these photos you will agree with me that this was one of those thrilling moments.
The proverbial walk in the park is always a good idea as it’s a good place to relax and maybe get some work done. But when you also see that your walk could turn into an opportunity for some street photography, then, suddenly, the idea turns out to be brilliant. For instance, I saw this man walking around; he was a strange combination between a messy tuft of hair and ragged clothes, with a little bit of Santa Claus about him. I was instantly interested in the contradictory appearance of this out-of-work Santa. There was something about him that was rough but, at the same time, he gave me the impression of a warm and kind person. A big man, he carried around a pink bag with a hearts and flowers motif all over it. I couldn’t help but ask myself questions about his life: is he a strong person? Does he have a home? Is he as kind as his appearance induces me to believe? What I noticed, and thought particularly interesting, was the expression on his face. He was sointriguing that, when he sat down on a bench in the park, I decided to approach him.
I had read on a blog about candid photography that a way to get candid photographs of people is to not approach them about it and just hang around, allowing them to forget about your presence. Like the whirring sound of a ceiling fan, soon enough, you fade into the background. The problem is that after reading about the reaction that Arne Svenson’s subjects had when they discovered that they were being photographed, I felt some ethical unease and wanted to avoid feeling like I violated his privacy. So, I decided to put into practice something that I had learned from an interview I read that was done with Steve McCurry: approach people, ask for permission, and then hang around for longer… much, much longer. Long enough for them to forget about you and your camera. So I did.
He has a very expressive look. He told me that he is retired, not homeless, but he accepts whatever help which people on the street might offer him. It was very beautiful for me to find so many contrasts in one single person. From far away he looked like a strong person, but I had the surprise of discovering a very sad and childish pair of eyes. I think that the last photograph is one of the most beautiful I have seen because there is no obvious posturing, the man bears semblance to a stereotypical good-natured grandfather, and he stares impassively into camera lens as if to say “here I am”, and the story is his weathered face. An example of non-candid street photography discovery that will have to stay. His story must be told. For each to understand in their own way.