My Friend, Vincent, a ray of sunshine
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.