Image: Su Leslie 2021
“Taking pictures is like tiptoeing into the kitchen late at night and stealing Oreo cookies.” – Diane Arbus
The tiptoeing part of that quote definitely resonates with me when it comes to photographing people, particularly candid shots. It’s not something I do often, and my general rule of thumb is to make my presence known, but unobtrusive.
And when I’m happy with the results — definitely an Oreo moment.
It’s odd how the brain makes leaps when you need it to.
Fellow blogger Gallivanta at Silkannthreades, sent me this link (Community Spirit, at The Mundanity of it All) about a community rallying around to help an elderly woman, recently widowed, prepare her house for sale. It’s a story about people engaged in everyday goodness, and I’m sure many (hopefully most) of us could tell a similar story.
Because despite the very real, very scary things that are happening in our world, everyday life for many of us is at least sprinkled with kindness. With a desire for positive, even if fleeting, connections with others.
And oddly, that’s where the blue thistle comes in. All those individual flowers separated from the others on the surface, are of course joined at the centre, and wouldn’t survive without that connection. Nor would the plant as a whole survive without the individual flowers reaching outwards.
Maybe that is something we need to remember. That no matter how much we grow out and in our own direction, we all spring from the same heart. It’s both what feeds us, and makes us meaningful.
I began this year thinking that I’d like to learn how to take better photos of people, and even posted a few images I’d captured of the boy-child (Portrait #1).
Well, the intention hasn’t gone away, but I remain a bit nervous about asking friends to pose for me. So, last weekend when the Big T came back from mountain-biking in the rain, I knew I had a perfect subject for portrait #2.
Although I seldom write fiction, I am a story-teller. Or maybe more accurately – as story-maker. I think it’s combination of curiosity and an obsession with narrative form, but I find myself looking at everyday things and wondering what lies behind the things I can see?
Office workers still at their desks late on a Friday night. Were they behind in their work? Or doing something behind others’ backs?
Erving Goffman (The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life) wrote about front and back-stage behaviours; about the way we present ourselves to others and the things we prefer kept private. We think about and use physical space in the same way. The front of the shop is open, welcoming designed to attract and invite. But out the back it’s a different story. In this photo of a back alley behind some designer clothing stores, the expectation of the building’s owner is probably “out of sight, out of mind”. However, in amongst the neglect, a street artist has has chosen to tell his or her own story behind the “official” facade.
I’m always slightly nervous about taking photos of strangers, and often end up with shots of their backs. In this case I suppose it’s appropriate. What is this man’s story? For whom was he waiting? What would their meeting be like? What lies behind the myriad little actions and decisions that got him to that place at that time?