Hello Friends and Family,

Link to this year's index by clicking here.

Photographing People, Part II

By Thursday, we were all starting to drag a bit — these workshops are intense and fatiguing. So in the afternoon, we went to an amusement park on the north side of Albuquerque. However, instead of going on the rides, we photographed the people who were. Both street shots and portraits were on the agenda.

The moment we entered the park, I saw this shot. Surprisingly, no one else in my class saw this shot in the exact same way. Some got an angle from the side or a spot closer to the riders. But my vision was of a giant mechanical flower with legs sticking out from the “petals”. It is interesting how different people just see the same scene through different eyes.

When doing our initial review, our instructor did not even spot the legs and was leaning against including it in our critiquing session. But when I pointed out the legs (and thus the people as part of the photograph), he told me he was glad I stuck up for my photograph. Part of the problem was simply reviewing this photo on the small screen on my laptop. Projected, it was awesome!

And then I began shooting photographs at the merry-go-round. I must have shot two dozen images of kids there before I captured this young girl. She was looking directly at the camera with a look of such maturity — I told John that it was like she was making love to the camera.

And he paid me a huge compliment during the review. He stared at the image projected on the screen, silent for a moment — then he said, "If you sent a Vogue photographer to get a shot of this little girl, he could not do a better job."

I wish I had obtained the email address for her parents — I would love to give them a copy — but I did not know what a treasure I had until I began sorting through my shots much later back at the dorm in Santa Fe.

And then serendipity again! This little boy had wondered off from his parents — and began to cry — even though they were only 10 feet away. I instantly dropped to one knee and snapped the photo. A moment later, his dad recognized his plight and picked him up.

Only time for one shot and fortunately, the automatic features on my camera worked because there was no time for adjustments. One of my fellow students remarked that I shot the photo first and worried about helping the kid second — I guess I am a true photographer.

And then I captured this lovely lady — probably a grandmother with her grand kids at the park. Again, I experimented with B&W and suddenly, this sweet, lovely grandmother had been transformed into a strong, forceful woman. The latter woman was certainly there all the time but the color photograph did not review her true self nearly as well as the B&W.

Friday afternoon is when the instructors, with help from the classroom assistants, compiled 80 photographs from the week’s work, sequenced them and set them to music for the Friday night slide show. To keep the students out of trouble (and to make sure we did not get any sleep), we were assigned to take additional photos at the location of our choice — with suggestions provided by the assistants.

I had found such satisfaction with the “older” faces that had photographed and thus wanted to visit a facility like a Senior Center or Nursing Home. Unfortunately, I called but discovered that I would have had to make arrangements earlier in the week — it could not be arranged on the spur of the moment. So I went back to the Plaza.

The weather was dreary, threatening rain and I was experiencing difficulty spotting any interesting scenes or faces for my assignment. I sat on a bench for some 45 minutes until I finally noticed a young boy playing the violin — a seven-year-old street performer. So I rushed over to where he was playing and captured this image.

Young Leon has been playing the violin since he was three. His mom said that she has trouble getting him to practice but he will willingly practice at the Plaza — since he gets to keep 10% of the money people throw in his violin case — the other 90% goes to his college fund.

Unfortunately, I forgot to get his mom's email address — I know she would love to have these two photos. I will try to find them again when I return to Santa Fe.

Now feeling refreshed, I found this guy by the name of Daniel Moreno who is the percussionist with a band that had played in the Plaza the night before. He was a little reluctant at first to let me take his photo but began to warm up as we sat and talked.

Eventually, I discovered that he had lived on Maui for about seven years — and we had some great discussions — not just Maui but I Love Lucy (because Ricky played Conga drums as does Daniel), digital vs. analog music recording, modern society in general. We must have chatted for 45 minutes before it started to rain and we both scattered to seek shelter.

But when I began working on the photos I took of him, of course I tried one in B&W. Wow! That was all I could say. Then I happened to reflect on the juxtaposition of my two images of the young musician, Leon, and the older musician, Daniel. The freshness of youth with a potentially great future contrasted against the ravages of time that a music profession can inflict. Sweet innocence versus the vices of the hip music professional.

But I wasn’t finished yet. The rain shower subsided and I again ventured onto the Plaza. And I spotted these two lovely ladies in their hats with the brightly colored bows sharing a cell phone. Absorbed in their private conversation and oblivious to the foot traffic around them, they are lighting up the dreary overcast afternoon.

Almost time to return to campus when these two young girls caught my eye. Also sharing, although what they are sharing remains a mystery. John said that he thought this might have been my best image of the week. I don’t know — best is so hard to pick — but if I had to pick one, my favorite was the girl on the merry-go-round. Feel free to let me know your favorite.

For those of you with a broadband Internet connection, you can view the Friday night slide show here. Note that the music does not start immediately — so no need to adjust your computer. Enjoy!

I do know that it was a great week with another great instructor — and with great chemistry among my classmates — despite differences in age, profession, experience and even country. For the first time in my Santa Fe excursions, it was hugs all around when we prepared to disperse back to our “real” lives. I hope that we can stay in contact — our shared experience was so rich.

Thank you John!

And now off to Santa Fe again — this time for A Natural Eye: The Summer Landscape with Eddie Soloway. I am being told that this may be the best class yet. Hard to believe — but my expectations are definitely high.

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com