Wednesday, December 31, 2008
I've been sitting poolside for, oh, I guess the better part of the last hour. I've been trying to get some serious photo editing work done, but I can't because the very friendly residents here keep wandering over to the strange guy with a laptop and a camera to ask what the heck he's doing. Inevitably, long, meandering conversations ensue.
The schedule-driven me would be a bit annoyed that I'm being taken off task. After all, my world typically revolves around time, along with my ability to get the most out of what little I've been granted. But a funny thing happens when you've deliberately pulled yourself out of that deliberate world for a bit. Time suddenly loses its edge. You lose the watch on your wrist. You're kind of aware of when you need to be back, but you refuse to let it take over your existence.
So instead of being annoyances, the conversations turn into neat opportunities to connect in similarly neat ways with utter strangers.
One gentleman stops swimming laps to ask me about my camera. He used to haul around bags filled with Konicas and Bronicas and now rhapsodizes about the Sony point-and-shoot that he takes everywhere in his pocket. Water drips down his bathing cap and onto his smiling, wrinkled face as he talks about how liberating it's been for him to have a tiny photo studio in his hand. He often shoots hundreds of pictures in a single day, just like me, and thanks his lucky stars that he no longer spends an arm and a leg to pay for film and processing. Also, just like me.
A friendly woman with dyed black hair wanders over to me while I'm shooting closeups of moisture-laden lounge chair webbing. She stands between me and the sun, casting a shadow directly into my shot, and begins chatting before I can even remove my eye from the viewfinder. She suggests I shoot a nearby palm tree, then enthusiastically agrees with my strategy when I tell her what I'm really up to. She rubs zinc into her face as she tells me how happy she is that she gets to see pictures of her grandkids online, all thanks to digital and a daughter-in-law who loves her camera, too.
Before long, they head into the pool and I return to my still-waiting laptop. The work will get done eventually. The moment I've just had will burn itself into my memory for decidedly longer.
Your turn: Connecting with strangers. Please discuss.
One more thing: Thematic Photographic returns with a new entry tonight at 7:00, so I hope you'll take time out from your new year festivities to ring out the old year with a photographic thought or two. In keeping with the season, our theme for next week will be "new".