The Black &White Christmas Taxi, 2012
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My illustrator friend Walt and I went out the other afternoon to photograph people who were assembling to take part in a holiday parade. Walt takes pictures to serve as references for his illustrations. I’m just out for the pictures.
To be honest, we didn’t really have any great interest in the parade itself. For photographers and illustrators, the real fun is in mingling with parade participants while they’re waiting for the parade to start. They’re in an expectant mood, alternately doing last–minute and costume checks, practicing whatever it is they’ll do in the parade—dancing, playing an instrument, strutting, etc.—talking with their friends, checking out the other parade participants and taking a few moments for some quiet.
Virginia Beach’s “Holiday” parade relies entirely on groups in the community and a few corporate sponsors to make up the parade. For example, the first group in the parade was a bunch of ladies in various holiday-themed costumes walking their dogs. There are no miles of aging Shriners wearing fezzes and no cheesy themes like the Neptune Festival. It’s pure holiday, no matter how you celebrate them. (Unlike those who rage hysterically about the “war on Christmas,” no one seemed offended by this multi-cultural gesture by the City of Virginia Beach. Anyone who wanted to take part could and any anyone who did could express their holiday cheer in whatever fashion they liked.)
The parade was scheduled to begin just after sunset. Given the quickly changing light in these days leading up to the shortest day of the year, I wanted to work on my flash photography skills some.
Walt and I wandered up and down Atlantic Avenue for an hour or so before the parade started and left no long after it started. On the way back home, Walt said something that I’m sure many of us think after we’d been out to shoot pictures, sketch, paint or do whatever it is we do. He said, “I can’t wait to get home and see what I’ve taken out here today.”
We photographers used to say, “I can’t wait to get my film back” or, if we had our own darkrooms, “I can’t wait to process today’s film.” These days, of course, it’s all digital. The gratification is far more immediate.
Still, there’s a gap of anticipation. Whatever your mode of capturing moments, looking at the results of time spent out making photographs is like harvesting a new crop of opportunities. And there’s a lot of joy in that.