Saturday, May 19, 2018

Watching a stranger wait for his wife

Biding his time at the IHOP
Delray Beach, FL
December 2017
Photo originally posted to Instagram
Every photographer has a weakness, and mine is strangers. I routinely shoot strangers from afar in public places because simply watching people go about their daily lives isn't something we tend to do much of anymore. We're so buried in our smartphones that we miss the comings and goings of daily life that are happening, quite literally, right in front of us. So I make a conscious effort when I've got a camera to break out of the heads-down mode and people-watch a bit.

I appreciate that my photographic strategy, such as it is, crosses a line. I should probably be approaching my subjects first and asking them to sign a release. My failure to do so probably adds a few more points to my bad-boy report card, but I continue to shoot quickly and quietly, almost always using a longish lens to reach into the scene without the subject ever knowing I was there.

On this Sunday morning in an International House of Pancakes (IHOP, and we'll leave the "International" part of its name for discussion another day), I saw this gentleman and his wife having breakfast. As he waited for her to return, I found myself staring at him, entranced by the way he occupied his time in her absence. He was super-focused on his coffee, carefully mixing in milk and sugar letting it cool while he patiently sat. He only started to drink it after she returned, which I found incredibly sweet - a gesture you don't see much of anymore.

My never-let-them-know-you're-shooting approach means we'll likely never know who this gentleman is. But in this hyper-connected era where anyone can be found on Facebook in seconds, there's some comfort in the fact that this man could be any of us, and I learned something about decent human behaviour by watching him on this slow-moving day in a South Florida restaurant.

Your turn: Do you take pictures of strangers? Why/why not?


Tabor said...

Not sure that shooting inside a public establishment is fair. On the street, yes, but while someone is eating...not so sure.

carmilevy said...

You're right: There's a definitive line between out-in-the-street - ie full public - and a resto, which is quasi-public. I know I cross it routinely, and I'm not entirely comfortable with it.

photowannabe said...

This is delightful Carmi.
I love single shots that tell a story.
Haven't done this type of photography for a long time..I think I must start doing it again.

photodoug said...

Carmi, a raw radish, a marvelous vegetable, indeed. Thanks for sharing.

Here is our red: