I have been away at a conference in San Carlos for users of the Better Light scan back. For those of you curious as to what a Better Light scan back is, click here to get to their website. Better Light holds an annual conference. I went this year mainly to learn about their new Colorsage software. It is a practical application of multi-spectral imaging.
Of course I took time to visit San Francisco and take pictures. This trip was to be the jumping off point for a photo series on America. Unfortunately that did not happen due to a lack of funds and time. But I did decide to push myself a little while shooting in San Francisco. You must always be willing to challenge yourself in order to grow as an artist. This time I decided to interact with the people I was photographing. Usually my street photography is a matter of stealing pictures. I never talk to the subjects I am photographing. Usually people aren’t the focus they are just part of the scenery. They smear pass, heading to their particular destinations unaware that they have become part of a picture. As I walked along the streets I would stop people and ask if I could photograph them. Sometimes the subjects initiated the contact. The mother and daughter above were raising money for a trip to Orlando by selling cupcakes. The daughter was a ballerina in training. I told them I was from New York and the daughter informed that she had just come back from New York.
Activist collecting signatures for one cause or another lined Market Street the Saturday I was there. The fellow below was collecting signatures to try to overturn the controversial Proposition 8 recently passed in California. I let him know I was not citizen of California. But we talked for a bit and I asked if I could photograph him.
Other times I would happen upon people such as the colorful opera singer I came upon as I walked up Grant Street headed towards Chinatown. As I approached Maiden Lane I heard Music being sung by someone who obviously belonged on the stage of any major Opera House in any major city in the world. Her voice was amazing! I photographed her but then decided to talk to her and let her know I took her picture. Usually I would just walk away. She was a student and to make money she would sing at different street fairs or events. Not seen in the picture is her boyfriend handing out CDs, manning the boom box and collecting donations.
On my last full day in San Francisco I decided to visit The Presidio. It’s one of San Francisco’s most beautiful spots. Of course couples about to be married often get their pictures taken there. As I sat on a bench a couple dressed in their wedding garb walked passed. As they did so I heard the woman mutter to her husband to be, “I can’t wait to get home and get out of this outfit. I need to pee!” But what really grabbed my attention was the tattoo on the back of the bride to be. Although small there was some incongruity about it. So as I never, ever do, I walked up to the couple and asked if I could take their picture. They said sure. We chatted a bit and I gave them one of my promo cards and said they can have a print if they want just by e-mailing me.
There were other encounters, the clarinet player, the tap dancer, the photographer from Guatemala, but I did not want to put up too many images. I am showing these photos here not because I think they are great works of art. They are not. They are examples of trying new things, new ways of interacting with the world, new horizons to explore (or ignore). Doing the same things over and over again is stifling. It becomes artistic masturbation. You do it because you are comfortable and it feels good. As my mom would say, Stop It! Go out and push yourself. Find new horizons, cross new boundaries and make new pictures!