Since all my work is based on a photo and I want to capture a person in an unguarded moment, my little camera with its telephoto lens is my tool of choice for sneaking a peak into the lives of strangers. I set my camera at the highest resolution available and take photos from a distance, sometimes a great distance, knowing that when I get home and load the images onto the computer I can crop in close and get what I wanted without anyone being aware of me. Two examples:
But often I get results I really didn’t expect. I don’t want to show the photos on this blog as it is not my intention to embarrass anyone, but among some of my biggest surprises:
The photo I took from across the street of two women talking and when I got home and cropped in it was clear one of those women was a man in a dress
There was a very touching photo of a woman sitting on a bench reading and a man lying across the bench with his head in her lap. What I thought was such a sweet moment when I snapped it from across the street, turned out to be an older man with his head in the lap of a girl of about thirteen. A little creepy.
When I was in Budapest I took a photo of a young couple sitting in archways overlooking the city. Great photo, it looked as if maybe he was proposing. I had always thought how nice it would be to send them this lovely shot of an important moment in their lives. Just yesterday, I decided to work from that photo and when I zoomed in to crop I could see that the opposite was happening. He had a pained expression on his face. I think she was breaking up with him–or at least they were fighting. Their body language didn’t say so, but their faces certainly did.
Even body language can play tricks, I took a photo of an elderly woman with a cane from the back that looked so vulnerable, when I got in close I could see she was fit and standing erect and not at all what I originally thought I was catching.
Here is a close one, I was in an airport and there was a family of four who all fell asleep leaning on each other and I carefully and quietly pulled out my camera and snapped the moment only to find when I got home that the dad’s eyes were opened and he was giving me the finger.
I find it an interesting by product of the way I make my art that I get to see realities that would otherwise have passed me by. Little details about people’s lives that I didn’t see until I got in close. I don’t know why I am so fascinated by strangers, but I can remember as a young child being fixated on really studying all the faces I saw in the course of a day and trying to figure out why they all looked so different if they all had the same basic parts–eyes, nose and mouth. I was constantly considering nuances I am sure other six year olds weren’t interested in studying–how far apart one’s eyes were, did the lips come out to the edges of the eyes or were they narrower. What was the position of the eyes relative to the nose? It sort of drove me crazy. Little did I know that would be what would occupy my time as a grown up.
That probaly explains why I am so interested these days in body language and in taking these photos of strangers. (It doesn’t make me creepy, does it? Gosh, I hope not). I just love to see all the ways people are different and all the ways they are not.