Somebody told me once that the real trick to photographing the real world is patience. That if you stand in once place long enough something interesting will happen right at your feet. This is pretty much the basis of all documentary and reportage photography. Only you attempt to figure out where and when that interesting thing is likely to happen then you go there and wait. Street photogs know this too. Same deal. Find a target rich environment and get ready to pounce.
A while ago I was out late and was behind the bar at this cool place talking to their master mixologist about how he comes up with new tastes. That’s “bartender” for you beer-and-a-shot folks. Anyhoo there were a few people seated near me and where apparently good friends from the energy coming off of them. I grabbed this frame:
I almost remember what they were talking about but to me there is so much going on here that I don’t want to. I want to imagine and let my mind go wild. No knowing in this instance makes the image even more interesting. The gestures, expressions and the oddness of the moment really get me. This is one of the things that I most love about still images: they hang there forever. We never get to see how this resolves. Come back later on and there is still those two claw like hands, the side-eye and touch of arrogance.
No, I really don't. Not at all. But I swear that's the conversation that I seem to constantly have regardless of whom I'm on assignment for. For some reason people think that when I show up to make photos I'm going to have them stand bolt upright, put on their best "Olan Mills" fake as hell smile, I'll shoot two frames with an on camera flash and then leave. Wow. I guess if I was shooting for National Geographic they might not think that but in the meantime I have to keep saying "No really, let's have fun with this. Why make boring pictures?"
I was assigned to photograph the Heinritz Brothers, Chris and Mark who for 20 years have owned a historic dive, I mean that in the best way, that first opened in 1923. It's a funky joint with just about every inch of the walls and ceiling decorated in pen drawings and scribbles. It's cool. So when I said that I wanted them over here and over there they were taken aback because everyone, everyone?, gives them the "Castro Special" you know: line 'em up and shoot 'em!
Naw! They are too nice and the place is way to unique to not show off. So I turned it into a shot more about the space than them. Two SB-800's on stands with ZootSnoots, my 17-35mm f/2.8 set to 17mm and f/11 @ ISO 1000 (man is that a total saver!) and blam-O! Not boring.
Oh and I just love this shot that my butt took while I was moving gear around. I should do a whole book of funky butt triggered shots. Ya know?