Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Like Shooting Fish in a Barrel

Not a Christian Group, I’m Guessing, 2010

A few last thoughts about Saturday’s walk at the Neptune Festival.

Usually when I go to the festivals and art shows held on the Boardwalk at Virginia Beach I try to focus on something about the place or the event itself. But lately I’ve been drawn more and more to the people who come to these events. This is a big step for me because I’ve traditionally taken pictures that didn’t have people in them, or that didn’t, in any event, show people big enough to be picked out and recognized.

At the Neptune Festival Art Show, though, I have to admit that the people walking along the Boardwalk were far more interesting than most of the art. Some people were downright unusual looking or just distinctly interesting enough to draw my attention.

About halfway through my walk, I turned around to find my friend the illustrator Walt Taylor also weaving his way through the Neptune Festival crowd. If you’re a fan of Walt’s work, you know that he’s a master of the drawn line and a keen observer of mankind. We both marveled at the diversity of people walking along the Boardwalk and expressed interest in documenting them in some way.

But we also both came to the conclusion that our first inclinations were to ridicule the unusual body shapes, facial expressions, styles of dress and manners of speaking we observed. These were not—how can I say this gently? —your usual patrons of the arts. I don’t remember who said it first, but we commented that there were so many unusual looking people around us that to make fun of them was like shooting fish in a barrel.

Maybe Extra Extra, 2010

We felt guilty for thinking such thoughts; we’re both somewhat shy and fundamentally kind about how we portray strangers. But that guilt lasted about twenty seconds and before you knew it we were taking pictures of anything and anyone.

Here’s Walt’s take on the day. And here.

And a few more of my takes.

Beads, 2010

Young’un Accessory, 2010

Stretch Marks, 2010


  1. Well, I wouldn't be too hard on yourself, ( and I can see you're not - 20 seconds!) You could re-describe your fascination as being an astute observer of the Human Condition. Let the photos speak for themselves! ( and they do, Oh My!) Overt tourista-types, of any stripe, are always "interesting" to observe. And you know what? They are struttin' and strollin', on Display!, so you are not invading any privacy there!
    What is always startling to me, still, at any large mixed gathering like this, especially at Vacation Spots, is quite simply, how Enormous "we" have become. It is truly a cause for National Shame, this obesity epidemic, but all we hear are justifications from the "misunderstood" ones, and I have no patience for it. What happened to that Rugged American spirit? Drowned in fast food and sedentary living... my Rant - - sorry!

    I think your photos are so excellent! The skewed tilts on some only underscore the walking in-the-moment feel. I think you have a really great "eye"for this, your new direction!

    And thanks for the link, love your friend's illustrations!

  2. Oh, do I ever know about people watching on the strip. Sort of an ocean side version of People of Wal-Mart. Now, when we visit, I actually have to take time to only pack things that won't make me look like a tourist in my own hometown. Sometimes I even succeed.