Camera in Hand: When you approach a total stranger with a camera in hand, they never know what to expect. The “Why my photo” is usually the first thought that comes to mind. I often wonder if the person I photograph at first feels anger in the their thought of – “He is going to take my picture to be mean.” If so, it is interesting to watch their expression change as we begin to talk. Frame by frame you can see their 43 facial muscles relax. It is as if a relief falls over their fear.
It has Happened: Before I ever had a chance to talk I have had cold coffee thrown at me. Luckily, I stepped back before I was hit by the flying liquid. One time I had a man take a swing at me after assuming I thought he was from Mexico as opposed to Puerto Rico – even though I never said a single word to him and was actually photographing someone else. Regardless, he missed and I smiled as I told him to have a good day. I have been cussed at – one “F” word after the other. In that case, I later served the man lunch while volunteering at a day shelter in Washington, DC.
It seems as if 99% of the time, most of those that I meet on the street leave with a smile and an urge to share their story with others. Those who don’t want to talk – don’t. That does not mean I don’t leave them with a sleeping bag or another item that is needed to survive. It just means that we don’t use the camera and their story remains locked up tight inside their vault.