My photography professor recently asked the class if we had ever stopped and talked to homeless and other various people on the streets. Only a couple said yes, myself included, and he asked if we had gotten interesting stories from them. The answer to that is definitely. While I did not talk to the man above very much, I have heard some interesting stories from others. Everything from a man in a wheel chair trying to get to California and get revenge on the police that broke his legs there to a former NBA player that was trying to get money for a cab. How many of these are actually true, I will never know for sure. But they are certainly interesting and the people that tell them can be wonderful and are worth stopping and talking to.
Today has been a little hectic to say the least. We have a print assignment for photography that requires us to print 1-3 photos inspired by Vivian Maier, Sally Mann, or Diane Arbus, none of which did I find that inspiring. Printing the photos adds a whole new challenge and a short time frame does not help. On top of this I spent two hours today helping Hannah with her camera which decided to stop working. So tonight I was in a rush to get photos. I walked all over downtown and came across this. This open Chinese restaurant devoid of life except the two employees, like the rest of the town tonight. Tomorrow will be interesting when I turn my work in.
How often do you walk down a city street and pass by people like the ones above and never give them a second thought. How often do we pass by and never even see them, wrapped up in our own comfortable world. How often do you see them, but you just glance and try not to make eye contact. How often do you stop to give a dollar, because you feel a little guilty, but you keep the words to a minimum and you walk away quickly, uncomfortable with them. Do you ever stop and talk to them. Because they have names and stories and experiences. One is a musician and the other a graphic designer, artist and writer. One tunes his guitar and complains about the cold, not because he is cold but because it makes tuning difficult. The other reads his newspaper, folding and unfolding it, and he smokes. But you can see in his face the ideas and the creativity that are working. They talk to us and share their stories. One tells us about a short story he’s working on set in the future where people rely on electricity to live and they have to plug in and recharge. We move on and we will probably never see them again, but I know I will remember them. And there are countless more like them. We talk to a woman who has a cat with her, trying to get money to feed herself and the two cats she has saved. We talk to a man happier than most of the well dressed and well fed people around him who gladly poses for pictures with the biggest grin I have seen in a while. We talk to another man who has been sitting in the cold and rain, wrapped up in a coat, all day. By this time we have given away our cash and we apologize. He says, “Don’t worry about it. I try to earn it by giving directions and helping people find things. I’ve been here two years so I know the city really well.” These people are real and they are all around us. It’s good to stop and talk with them and hear their stories, because everyone has a story to tell and this is reality.
This photo is not from today, but it carries with it some things I feel I should say. I’m just gonna go for it. I think we get to choose how we look at the world. We do not get to choose what happens to us and what life throws at us. Life is rough and it is dirty and mean and cold. It can get very shitty very quick. But it is also beautiful and warm and full of love and passion and goodness and ecstatic joy. I have known some extreme lows and some great highs. And I have learned a lot. I’m learning that we get to control how we perceive things. And that is powerful. We get to choose whether we will be happy or angry or sad or miserable. We all have bad days. I get it. I’ve had some bad days. Sometimes we just need a bad day. We choose it. We choose to be self-centered and feel low. We just do it sometimes. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. But all those other days. We get to look at them differently. We get to look at the joys and the beauty of this insane world around us. I went to the zoo and there were annoying, bratty little kids everywhere and stupid parents and unpleasant people. I could have let it ruin it for me. But no, I saw seals and birds and orangutans and fucking sharks and it was fun and I had a good day. It is to easy to have a bad day. It is so easy to get into that low, pitiful state. I know, because I did it all the time. I still do sometimes. But I have learned to look at things differently. There is a quote I am learning to take more and more to heart. It will be my final thought on this subject. It goes, “Stuff your eyes with wonder. Live as if you’d drop dead in ten seconds. See the world. It’s more fantastic than any dream made or paid for in factories.” Go see the world because, my god, we don’t have much time and I want to have more great days than bad ones at the end and I hope you do too.
Through the eyes of a local. Las Vegas is a large ‘touristy’ city. Cab drivers are everywhere. Running back and forth. Here to there. Hotel to nightclub. Variety of people from all walks. Making their living off the kindness of sometimes highly intoxicated people.
To all you cab drivers, thank you. Thank you for showing us the city from your point of view. Thank you for keeping us safe in a busy, fast paced city.
Shot from the backseat of a yellow cab.
There are times when I drive and I can’t resist shooting. I just get an idea for a shot and I have to get it. Yes, I know, it’s not the safest. I’ve been told by many. But the shots can really be worth it. Tonight I set up my camera on my dash, held open the shutter and shot away. It made a boring drive much more interesting. I got some cool shots and got to where I was going safe and sound.
Shot on S.R. 32
What is it with driving that can make me so calm, so centered, so creative? I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s because I’m alone. Maybe because it’s night. Of course I sometimes get angry when I drive and I can have really bad road rage, but a lot of the time, driving is peaceful. All I want to do is drive and shoot photos. Tonight I got to do that. Every night I drive this curve right before I get back to campus. I’ve always thought the looks were interesting and I knew I could make a shot out of it. But there’s usually a car behind me or in front of me or a cop is around. So I never stop to take the shot. Until now. I was able to stop and shoot. I love the lights. I love the road. I love making an idea happen.
As I drove downtown this evening, looking for today’s picture, I saw this sign and knew I had to get a shot of it. So I parked my car a little ways away and started walking towards this building. As I walked there, this older lady yelled across the street “Whatcha taking pictures of? You gonna take a picture of me?” I honestly didn’t want to talk to her. So I said I was getting a picture of the sign and ignored her. And then I started thinking about the sign and the lady, and I wish I had gotten a picture of her. I wish I had talked to her. I wish I hadn’t ignored her. Because as the sign says, she was beautiful. Everyone is, in their own way. If we would just really look at a person and see past whatever is holding us back from interacting with them, we might see something beautiful. How many times have you or I looked at a person and thought they were ugly, or were afraid of them because they looked different from ourselves, or avoided them, or looked down on them or pitied them? I have no idea who they are, but I judge them. I don’t even give them a chance. I need to stop that. I need to start seeing the beauty in them. Because everyone has some beauty.