The Artist, 2012
I guess it was inevitable as I got onto this jag of photographing people that I would eventually be compelled to turn on my friends. It had occurred to me some time ago that there are all sorts of people in my life who have interesting looks or other aspects about them or their style that make them interesting. But because they’re people you see all the time you never think to actually photograph them.
For example, while driving to a client meeting recently I happened to look over into a field of flowers adjacent to our local farm market. Carolyn, the woman who runs the flower section of the market was walking into the field. I immediately saw the potential for a photograph, as they say, “worthy of a painting.” The color of the light, the shadows, the lines, the colors of the flowers, Carolyn’s shape; everything about the moment screamed for documentation. But I had a meeting to go to, was not dressed to go tromping in the field, didn’t have the means to achieve the elevation I would have wanted to compose the picture and, perhaps most importantly, didn’t have my camera with me.
Since then I’ve had it on my list to start photographing the people in my life. People like the flower lady mentioned above. The café owner, cook and waitress at the place where we have breakfast on Sunday mornings. The kid who waits on us at the neighborhood restaurant where we’ve been going every Tuesday night for years for cheap burgers. We all have people like this in our lives. They all have stories. There are interesting visual aspects to each of them. Why not photograph them?
One day last week I happened to be having lunch with the eminent illustrator Walt Taylor. We ate in a café where the walls are covered with his drawings. I suppose you could say he’s their resident artist, though I noticed that resident artist status apparently doesn’t confer free lunches.
Walt’s famous among his friends for pulling out a camera and shooting quick candid photos. You never know what malicious use he’ll make of them. You might end up on Facebook as the punch line to an embarrassingly obscene joke or, as happened to me, have your earnest portrait put into Taylor’s Photoshop grinder and come out looking like an axe murderer who can’t keep food from dribbling out of his mouth. I’m sure he had something suitably devious in mind when he pulled out his camera at the cafe and started snapping pictures. It was only the arrival of our friends Sue and Freda in the midst of this little episode, I’m sure, that spared me from some grotesque Taylor-esque depiction.
I, on the other hand, seek only truth and therefore choose to portray my friend as he is, in all his megalomaniacal glory.