May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the warm rays of sun fall upon your home
And may the hand of a friend always be near.
May green be the grass you walk on,
May blue be the skies above you,
May pure be the joys that surround you,
May true be the hearts that love you.
Source: Irish Prayer
A field trip, for my photography history class, brought me to the streets of Las Vegas, once again. Keep in mind, I have traveled the streets countless times and have become bored with all the glitz and glam. However, this assignment was to recreate “Street Photography” as done in the late 70’s early 80’s. I giggled as the instructor handed out our spec sheet on the details of what he would like us to do. Most of my classmates were not born yet during this time period. I, on the other hand, lived it. So, as they (my fellow photography classmates) began snapping pictures of the blinking lights, showgirls and various facades, I turned the corner. Traveling down the vacant alley ways, until I stumbled upon a man sheltering himself against the strong winds, under his stained beige blanket. He asks quietly, as my foot steps pass him, “do you have any spare change? a quarter?”
I respected him for his discretion, since pan handling in Las Vegas is illegal for both parties; the asked and giver. I grabbed and patted my front pockets, already knowing I had no coins in my pocket and apologized as I walked by. I stopped after 10 feet and turned. I remembered I had a dollar bill in my camera bag, in case of emergency money. I grabbed the dollar and walked back to the gentle man and started a conversation with him. I placed the dollar in his hand and told him I was a poor college student on assignment taking pictures. He smiled, his hand cold and dry, life still pulsing through it. A connecting sparked when we touched, signaling me I could trust this man. I asked for his permission to take his picture. He agreed. A legal transaction. He was now my model.
He asked me, “Is that a 35mm camera?”
“Yes,” I replied, “How do you know about cameras?”
“Oh, I have a friend that shoots pictures. Is that film?” His questions were an open door for this conversation continue. I sat down next to him as I asked him his first name. “Vincent”, he said. I introduced myself and continued to snap a few shots in between the respectful eye contact and head nods, followed with a conquering “ah-ha.” I only took about 8 pictures. I say only, because if you knew me, 8 is about 92 short of a complete shoot. A few of him in a close up and a few of his environment; two stick trees, one with a bike chained to it, the other where his back pack rested. He was perched in between. A setting for the perfect rule of 2/3rd’s. But the more we talked, the longer I paused and listened. picture quantity was not a factor, as much as quality.
I shared the pictures I took with Vincent and he was impressed with the digital aspect of my camera versus his friend’s film camera. I felt myself wanting to know more about this kind man. his caring eyes drew me in. I thought to myself, what if this was me, what would I want? I quickly assessed a bit of company, someone to talk to, would be nice.
I thanked Vincent for his time, and wished him well through out the night, with a “God Bless’ as I left his space, his home.
Later that night, as I developed my images, I began to wonder, “…would Vincent be in that same spot again? Should I go visit him again?”
I think he would and I think I will.
My moment of happy: Helping others in small ways can lead to big rewards of the heart.
Today, during the Grand opening of Tivoli Village, Flash Mob America and Claire’s place foundation combined forces to raise awareness and funds for cystic fibrosis. What a surprise to the crowd! The event was well-organized by both teams, here in Las Vegas and Sana Monica CA. How wonderful to know that as I was shooting locally, watching the flash mob, someone else was doing the same in another city. I guess, I can claim, this was my first simulcast.
Although final editing of the video will take a few days, I am eager to see the end result. The anticipation is like being a kid at Christmas. Or dare I say, the feeling I had as I dropped my film off at the lab for developing. I just don’t know what the final result will be. Ooo, the element of surprise.
And a big HURRAY for the dancers. I know they practiced often and long hours. It showed. Perfectly in sync and stepping to the beat. Even the crowd felt the rhythm and began dancing. That is the wonderful thing about flash mobs. They are contagious with joy and good feeling, not a bad combination by any standard. If you are ever given the opportunity to partake or view a flash Mob, DO IT!
You won’t be sorry you did, and you will leave with more than just a moment a happy; you get a forever happy memory.
I was in a local park, the other day, and did just that. This is what I saw. The cloud transformed into a crocodile. Then as an added bonus, the sun popped through the bottom like water dripping. Or maybe to give my imaginary animal a plane to crawl upon. Naturally the shape began to disappear as I stayed in one place, but I was glued to the rays.
Each photograph better than the next. Sun rays pouring through the clouds as they grew larger and darker. In Nevada, rain in almost non-existent, but the clouds like to dance and make us think we might get some precipitation. It’s a trick. The rain hardly ever comes, and the clouds separate and disappear instantly. Cruel joke. What fascinated me the most, were the colors. It was about three o’clock in the afternoon, so the sky was a true teal blue. The clouds thick and dark, with golden sun piercing through. I enjoyed the show, as I took my photos for prosperity. Yes, of course I can pull them into photo shop and saturate the colors to create a Peter Lik style cloudscape, but I prefer to keep it natural. After all, some of my mentors, did not have photo shop, let alone computers. And most still shot with black and white film.
So, to support my decision to keep my image natural, here is the same image in black and white. I still have the same “feeling” (if not even more so) that get when I view it. A feeling of being “at one” with the universe. Try it! Take some time for yourself and just watch the sky. You may see more than you anticipate.
If you have never seen or taken part in a Flash Mob, you must. At least once. There is a lot of fast-moving, exciting action, that sucks you in like a vacuum. Filled with individuals, from every walk of life, all ages, coming together for a few minutes to surprise the unknowing with joy. Yes, that is the mission; Surprise with Joy.
The expression on onlookers faces is priceless. Their reaction, upon completion of our performance is rewarding, since it usually applause. The smiles we leave behind is our approval, that it was O.K. we interrupted their lunch, or their conversation, or phone call. For a few moments in time, we quite possibly changed someone’s, even if only one, mood and frame of mind.
Being a photographer, I have the great privilege of capturing these moments. Time seems to stand still, or at least slow way down, as the performance begins. This is I, in the pink, filming the event as it occurs. As seen in this picture, my face smashed into the view finder, elbows piercing into my ribs, bracing my equipment for a still and steady shot. Breathing slowly and holding my breath as I zoom from one angle to another. Arching my lower back to give a bit of tilt to the lens. My legs growing weak as knees lock for a self made tripod. The heat causes sweat to drip from my forehead into my eyes and my fingers become slick. Yet, I hold steady and strong. Performers circling me, rushing by, as if they were in a slow motion movie. Finally the four minutes come to a close and relief rushes over me. I got it. I can breathe, bend and move freely again, normally. Crazy what we will put our bodies threw for the perfect shot.
Thanks to my fellow photography pal, Duane Parks from Pics & Clics for this candid shot of “my” moment during this last Flash Mob Filming. You did a fabulous job in capturing the essence of what the people behind the scenes do. And it IS all worth it. A smile is the best pay off.
Now, if we could pay our bills with smiles….