A Touch of Cray

What started out as a monthly excuse to get out and shoot with a group of like-minded photographers turned into what I feel will be a life long love of street photography. A few years back I was (loosely) leading photo walks here in Portland, organized via Flickr and then Google+.  I loved that it allowed me to meet new people, make new friends, and socialize during and after the walk. What I discovered through 2 years of leading walks was that I don’t enjoy shooting on the street with a group of photographers so much. What was a lot of fun at first became both a chore to organize but diminishing returns on satisfaction. This was primarily due to having other photographers around, all vying for the same subjects on the street.

That said, and he may correct me, but I believe this is how Phillipe and I became friends. I have a lot of respect for Philippe, his talent, demeanor and friendship. So,I suppose it was all worth it!

This week’s image was taken on Hawthorne back when I was leading these photo walks. I was exploring the junk/antique store behind these ladies when I realized a very comical interaction between the lady on the left of frame and the store owner. This lady was in the store, in the process of being thrown out by what seemed to be a fairly aggressive shop worker. She seemed to want to buy several items, but then it degenerated into her asking to buy just about any item. The employee wanted nothing more than for her to leave, and ultimately she was thrown out.

In that moment, I decided to follow her outside just to see what was next. Outside she found her companion in the red coat waiting, and I quickly realized the two of them together made for interesting subjects. 

Uncharacteristically for me at that time, I approached these women and asked if I could take their portrait. At first, they were apprehensive about my intentions. I explained to them that I was simply a photographer out for personal enjoyment, and that there was nothing to fear. You can see the woman in the red coat is holding an (old now) business card of mine. I offered to send them prints if they would just call or email me, which they never did do.

I know this picture is not technically strong, and there are some rules broken here. That said, with the additional context I’ve provided, the faults in this image make it appealing to me and hopefully the viewer. For starters, the woman in red’s toe is cut off at the edge, oops. However, there’s a large bomb heading right into the other woman’s head! Given that she seemed a bit crazy, or at least very eccentric, I find it only fitting that there’s a bomb going into her head. I didn’t notice the bomb there until I looked through my viewfinder, but then I had that premonition that I was making a good portrait. Unfortunately I was so focused on the upper portion of the frame I inadvertently clipped some toes.

All of this is to say, do what you have to to ensure you get out and make pictures. It’s important for growth! Sometimes, you’ll love the images you make even when they’re not perfect.