Getting Close and Personal:Street Photography real story
portrait of a bump

      After 7 hours of staring at the monitor and designing websites for a piece of my everyday bread, I glanced at the small clock on my desktop. Huugh, it was 5 o`clock in the night, or in the morning, whichever sounds better. I lay in bed, but of course, I couldn`t sleep. So, I prepared myself a big coffee, drank it, packed my Nikon and hit the streets. It was sunday morning, sun was shining as in Lord of the Rings movie, and I didn`t have, almost like always, particular plan what or where I want to shoot.

      Streets were empty. Occasionally I saw someone going to a work or going home from rough night. In almost dreamlike walking I found myself in large central city square. It looked strange without people, almost ghostlike. I pulled my Nikon from the backpack and started to look around. Nothing worth shooting. Then I saw one small alley with nice deep shadows, and I thought, well ok, I can wait there and see if I can make one of those surreal, deep black, noir photos that people like so much these days.

– Hey buddy, do you have a cigarette? – a deep, hard voice broke my line of thoughts.

I turned around. Two guys were sitting on the bench, drunked to death, surrounded with piles of empty bottles and garbage.

– Yeah, sure – I said, pulling pack of cigarettes from my pocket while concentrating not to drop Nikon from my other hand.

– Sooooooo – big guy started after he lit up the cigarette with trembling hands – what are you doing with this serious camera so early, here?

– Good question – I replayed. – I don`t have a slightest idea… I couldn`t sleep, so I was thinking maybe I could take a walk with camera, relax my mind and see if I can take a few pictures.

– So what you gonna photograph? There is nothing interesting here, only two of us full of alcohol and bad smell.

– Well, then, I can photograph you, but you need to pretend that I`m not here.

– Why?

– Usually, photos are better if you are not aware that you have been photographed, and besides that, I`m so called street photographer, and I`m not supposed to rearrange or stage reality.

– Hahahaha, what a bullshit! – he cried with laughter. –You’re funny guy. Ok, we will pretend that you are not here…

And so, I turned on my Nikon and started taking photos, but it was almost impossible. They were very, very drunk, and the moment I started to shoot, they continued to chat with me.

– So, is there any money in this, how you said, s treet photography.

– Well, if you’re good enough, and a lot of people know you, there is.

– Are you one of those?

– No, I`m not that good.

– So you’re just shooting for the sake of it and your own pleasure?

– Correct.

– Then you are the same as we are, we drink only for the pleasure of it.

– Yeah – I said – we can look at it that way.

– Ok – he said seriously with mumbling dramatic voice. – I will show you now something, and you can take photo of it, and maybe you can win some big photo contest or become famous.

– Sure, I can try, what do you want to show me?

– I have a real worm that lives in my foot between my toes.

He looked at me as he wanted to reveal some magnificent secret or treasure. I was stunned, and thinking he was just joking me. But then he started taking away his decayed snickers and digging between his toes, non-washed for months.

– Oh, man – said his drunk buddy sitting next to him. – That`s really disgusting.”

As I sat on the ground and started to shoot his dirty foot with attitude of a professional, I said to myself, well, this must be real street photography in its pure form. Not some bullshit fake fine art that hangs in empty galleries, this is real life in all its glory and despair. How Steve McCurry called himself after they accused him for photoshopping his images? “I am not a photojournalist, I am a storyteller”, he said.

Well, certainly I will not become a member of National Geographic with photo of a worm that lives in dirty foot of a bump. But who cares. By the way, after a while, he really found a real little white worm between his toes, and raised him in front of my camera. It was very strange and surreal…

With raised voice he dropped the worm theatrically on the asphalt .

– Enough! You will no longer live in me!”

Maybe I should start one of those GET CLOSE/CONQUER YOUR FEAR workshops like Eric Kim and start to make real money from streetphotography…

I stayed with them for more than an hour, talking, laughing and shooting, and after I bought them a couple of beers and a pack of cigarettes, I left them to a harsh daylight that was coming. It was fun. It was raw and real. It was memorable experience. And what about photos? Well, here they are, judge for yourself. But one thing I know for sure, I was perfectly blended into the streets. And close.