I've started writing about this image a half dozen times but it resists description. It has a combination of subject, composition, and context that I'm really pleased with. At the same time, I think even talking about the circumstances of shooting this change the viewer's perception of the photograph.
So here it is. I'll tell you a few of the things that make it special for me. The subject, riveting, unusual, a freak. I find it reminiscent of Diane Arbus or Harry Crews, portraying the American freak show. The context, outside with midday light harsh yet the important bits in enough shade to bring out rich tonality. On the street. The background slightly blown which provides contrast for the dark shapes. Composition, I love my threes. The subject expressionless behind the mask but then so are the two people behind, poised with some menace but faces almost blank, especially the figure at the extreme right. What is the dynamic between the three? Even the focus, the two figures in back soft but with enough detail to see expression making them both background and subject.
I have the luxury of seeing the several exposures prior and the one just after. I can watch how I moved to find the correct vantage, hurriedly shooting before things changed, then this one, and finally the one just after when the scene started to crumble. I remember taking the shots in the street, seeing the alignment, hoping that I got what I thought I saw. It wasn't until I was home and reviewed the images from the day that with some relief I saw I had managed to just catch it.
The dynamism of the moment, just seconds to get this, is reflected in the image. The world is slightly askew and the figure at right partially cut off. If given time to set up and shoot this I think I get something more static, less in the moment. Less like a snippet of your memory standing out from a full day of sights and sounds.