Tuesday, July 1, 2014

One Day You Will Remember Me: Street Photography & the Truth on the Street

One Day You Will Remember Me (Melbourne Australia June 2014)

Allow me to introduce you to Elias. I met him on the street in Melbourne a few days ago. I'd spotted him out the corner of my eye, and as is my habit when encountering people who appear to be homeless, I smiled, waved and walked on by. But, before I got more than a meter or two past him, Elias called me back.

"Take my photo," he said as I approached him.

I replied that I don't usually photograph people who are homeless.

"I'm not homeless." was his answer.

I asked him why was he laying on the street in such weather (it was rainy and very cold).

"I have a place but I come out every day, trying to make people happy,"  he told me. "One day you will remember me and one day you will remember God through me." Then he told me again to photograph him, arranging his Star of David pendant just so, as he spoke.  So I made this photograph, showed it to him and he approved.

"That's a good one," he said and smiled his thanks.

Afterwards I asked him his name and he told me it is Elias. He also told me that he is a Jewish prince. When I said that I didn't know there were Jewish princes, he simply replied, with a smile on this face:

"Well, I am one."

He refused to take any money from me and just repeated that one day I would remember him and remember God through him. 

Is Elias really a Jewish prince? He told me he is, so he is. Will I remember him "one day"? Well he told me I will, so I will.  As a street and social documentary photographer, it is not my place to judge the things people tell me, or for that matter, the 'reality' they show me through the viewfinder of my camera. Life on the street, life itself, is what it is.  Sometimes the truth is plain to see, sometimes it's hidden beneath the surface or behind masks of various kinds.

 But, at the end of the day, on the street there is truth and really the best way to see and experience that truth is to remember that, while we may weigh up the facts of a situation, a story or whatever, there will always be truth hidden there whether the facts add up or not.

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