So, they say if you want to get a picture, find a place and sit there. Someone will come on the set to make it perfect. Photographers need patience and prayer. The camera has to be ready as does the confidence. Creativity on the run. Don’t regret not shooting. Always something happening. Keep seeing. Keep being creative. Sometimes, just the camera and the environment. Sometimes, angels from another planet.
I’m just siting around at North Beach this chilly April morning, with not enough clothes, seeing if I can shoot a selfie in not-so-good light. No one on the beach. No one on the swings. No one around. And then these women arrive. A photographer’s dream, I thought, a penguin and a zebra. Two beautiful babes on a beach in April, not drinking shots, rolling in mud or being ogled by post pubescent boys. Fellini. He would have understood. The light accompanied them, brightening up the sky, though not the temperature. Ancient aliens sans chariot. I pinched myself to make sure I hadn’t frozen to death. Life. There was life.
They were there on some kind of dare with a political flavor. Some guys challenged them to jump into the Lake, forgetting these are not the girls who went to college in the 50’s, and have every bit the courage, strength and wherewithal to do anything. And, there was something about nominating someone for something. They brought along a videographer, the type that carries a cell phone to document the action. They posed, nominated whomever for whatever and then ran into the water.
Water temperature had to be in the 40’s, maybe colder.
Not much time for or interest in a swim.
And then they were gone.
Out early. Not much movement. The sun didn’t appear. No peek through for the breakwater. Overrun with water, the birds barely have a place to sit, at least from where I stand. Too humid for comfort, air also has some sediment from a fire which burns in my eyes. Cannot drink my coffee. Out of here.
Kids at Camp Gan cannot figure out what to do. Supposed to go on a boat ride. No way to challenge the lightning or rain. What to do?
Kelly sits on Cherry St, moved from Main. People complain she has a place to live and doesn’t need to beg. Its her job. But she sits in the sun, dressed well, courteous to a fault. Not many who don’t know her or can pass her by. Misses Paul.
Richard stays sober until he doesn’t. Hasn’t had to go back to treatment. Hangs out near Lowe’s and Hannafords. Ramp out of order for him. Ruggededly handsome. Lives nearby in the woods, somewhere.
Don’t have his name. He has mine. Struggling. Living in the woods. Hasn’t smoked in a while. Sweet and kind. Has friends.
A musician. Used to play a horn. Lost his teeth. Never saw him before. James Harvey, he calls himself. Been around here longer than I have. Has a brown dog. Looking to pick himself up and play again in the fall.
Ed Larrabee. Met him at the beach. He ventured to North Beach to escape the craziness on Church Street. Has a heritage he can be proud of. No place to live but he knew where he was going to crash tonight. Has a book about the Middle East which he wants to read, but he fears he doesn’t know enough to make it worthwhile. Understands people, but not injustice. Exudes self-confidence and personal strength.
Don’t ask me how any of them arrived in a place where I can picture them. And, they don’t ask me why I am in their midst.
So, I go down to the beach or the waterfront or Church Street with my camera and a lighting kit. Need to keep up my skills, looking, seeing, shooting. Oh, how I cannot deal with people telling me they have cameras or relatives with cameras or cell phones. They don’t understand portraits, posing or the importance of having a photograph, taken in ernest.
These two people walk by where I sit with my friend Jim and we start to talk. Kevin wants to take a walk. They will talk about whether to accept my offer to shoot his photo.
Kevin returns. Agrees to the shoot. And we talk. Seems he is a world class Bocce player who will be competing in the Special Olympics in Vermont this weekend. So, I sign up, volunteering to photograph whatever they need shot, knowing they have lots of shooters ahead of me, including the press.
Now, I have to sort through 1,500 images, shots one more beautiful than the next. What a wonderful experience Kevin shared with me and I don’t even know his last name, where he lives or much about him.
So, the biker remembers to bring his lock. He secures the front wheel. The thief, the bicycle thief, needs a bike, He can buy a wheel if he wants to ride or sell the bike to someone who will. Biker’s day at the beach ruined; he also needs a new bike.
Redemption. We seek redemption for different reasons. Larry promotes a clean environment, relying on the arrogance of those who cast their containers aside after binging on the beach. He lives to drink another day, clearing the beach and adjoining land of debris. We get to enjoy the view.
Met this guy at North Beach. He built a castle on the sand which could last for a few days. Usually he builds Churches as a way to show how to save the environment. Using words like “ecomass” and “biomass,” he talked about reducing waste and promoting jobs in VT. I didn’t understand much, but he had just been interviewed for a show on VPR which I hope I don’t miss to learn more.
He had an assistant, a young girl he met at the Beach. “I am happier about having her help me, than I am with the building.”