Friday, May 17, 2013

I Am a Witness to Love, I Am a Street Photographer

Love. It's everywhere isn't it? Well, yes I know, it does depend on how one looks at the world, but often it's not that it isn't there so much as it is we don't see it. That is where we street photographers come into the picture. We are a very lucky group of people. We get to see love all the time and everywhere we look. Love between a parent and a child, love between a dog and its human. And then there is romantic love. I can't count the number of times I have seen - been lucky enough to see - couples obviously in love or loving each other.
Hello My Darling

I so often am privileged to witness that look of love that passes between lovers as they meet or as they part. It's a private moment, yet there it is in plain sight for the world to see, to witness. If only we would slow down so we are able to see it. 

It's the Look of Love

Mind you, sometimes a couple will be just sitting, passing the time together. Suddenly, one will look a the other and in that fraction of a second (John Free says all Street Photographers see the world in segments 1/500th of a second long) it takes to point the camera and click the shutter, such a look is passed from the one to the other, that it is a gift worth treasuring. I sometimes wish this couple could have a copy of this photograph. But, that's not how this thing works. It's a fleeting thing; a moment that comes, then is gone forever.

Lovers on the Grass

Then there are the times when from even metres away, the street photographer can just feel the joy being eperienced by lovers as they embrace oblivious to their surroundings and to other people passing by. It's as if the world itself is their living room. But, you know, I don't often get the sense people are "showing off" or "posing"; it is usually just two people expressing joy and love in each other's company.

Loves in the Park

Now, I am not one of those street photographers who goes out of their way to be invisible. I see no point in hiding or sneaking around. Of course this means that sometimes I am seen and more often than you might think, this can result in a great image too. People might sometimes change their pose a little, but overall they  like these two, maintain what they were doing (except of course they are smiling now for the camera). And these two were happy in each others embrace, and proudly proclaim that to the camera. I like this one!

Sunday Seaside Stroll

Another aspect to street photography that I absolutely love is its ability to change people's lives, even if it is just for a moment. Take this couple for example. Strolling on a beach path one Sunday morning. I just instinctively lifted the camera and made the photo as they approached me. Now, they were so engrossed in whatever was happening for them that they didn't notice me, even as we passed each other. Again, just intuitively I said to them: "It's great to see such a handsome couple". They both looked at me and smiled, then the guy said: "It is indeed".

That's all, nothing else, and all over in a couple of seconds. Later, as I looked at the photo on my computer, I noticed that they are both looking upset or at the very least really distracted by something. Who can say what sort of day they'd had or what kind of bad news they had received and were processing. 

And that's the point you see. I knew nothing of this at all when I made the photo. And, then, despite the fact they hadn't seen me, I spoke to them, and what I said elicited a smile and a humorous comment from the man. So, by acting on instinct, being fully present and going with the flow, it is likely I played a tiny part in cheering up two people who were quite probably having a bad day.

Like I said, I have so many images that are witnesses to love in many of its forms. These are a tiny few of the romantic love kind. I have had the great good fortune to see and share thousands of similar moments. And what's more, the fact I am actually there to witness and record those moments with my camera, means that I can then share these moments of love with others, with you. 

Street photography is a great gift to me and to all of us. Fleeting moments that come and are gone forever as I said earlier, are usually missed as we rush about just living our lives. But just because they are missed doesn't mean they aren't important or that they shouldn't be recorded for sharing with others and for posterity  I am one who is lucky enough to be called to do just that. And I am grateful.

Sharing a Sleeve

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