Going forward I have decided to post my favorite shots from each month. Here are the shots from April 7th thru the end of the month (Photos from earlier in April are already posted)
The person who led me to street photography and taught me the most about it was my father. He wasn’t a photographer and never took photos on a regular basis.
My father was a truck driver working to provide for his family. He was raised during the depression, grew up without much, struggled, and learned to work hard. Through this he also came to have an interest in people and their stories. He would talk to people all the time, anywhere. He was a master at striking up conversations with strangers and getting to know them. He was always willing to share a story; but mostly was interested in hearing their stories. People fascinated him. He loved to talk about the people he met and the stories they had shared with him. Many of his conversations with his family started with a smile, a chuckle, and the words “Listen to what this guy told me the other day”.
(This is how my father taught me to have an interest in people.)
My father had collected some photos during his life of himself and people he knew. He would bring them out now and then and retell the stories behind them. Through these photos he could relive parts of his life and share parts of where he had been. That enabled his family to know something of the people he had known, the places he had been, and most importantly a little more about himself.
(This is how my father taught me that every photo has a story to be shared.)
My father would have made an amazing street photographer. When he was out in public he never stopped scanning the crowds, looking for things that he found interesting; and he would always share what he found with those who were with him. He would indicate something noteworthy with a subtle nod of his head and a quick point of his finger. It’s not always easy to follow someone else’s gaze to what caught their attention. When his companions failed to notice, he would resort to a quick double-finger point in the desired direction. If the opportunity was missed and the moment was gone, he would utter, “Never mind you missed it”. But if he were asked, “What was it?” he would respond with a smile and the story of what he had seen.
(This is how my father taught me to watch the world around me and to share what I saw in it.)
Of course my father taught me many things during my life...many life lessons were shared. At times I resisted, being a stubborn youth. Other times I embraced the opportunity. I didn't become a documentary photographer while my father was still living. He never knew this passion he had taught me...this part of my life he gave me; but I thank him for it. Without the influence of my father, my mother’s gift of a camera at a young age, and her encouragement to take photos, I would not be who I am, doing what I do.
I remember with both sadness and joy the last day I spent with my father. He was laying in a hospital bed. I had recently went on a trip to our old hometown...a trip he had planned to go on with me, but his failing health prevented him. I had taken a small digital camera on the trip and taken some photos of the town and our home there. We had no smart phones back then and no laptops. I had printed out the photos on regular printer paper to show him. The memories triggered by the photographs brought him happiness and some sadness. I recall him going through them, remembering the days we spent there, sharing stories he recalled about what he saw in the photos. I learned one last lesson that day about documentary photography from my father. I learned even the simplest photo can be important to someone.
This is how I became I documentary photographer this is how I learned to watch to see.
My training wasn’t in a classroom taught by some master mine was simple it was thru the time spent with my father him teaching me learning without either of us knowing it at the time
This is how my father taught me to be a documentary photographer without knowing it.
Thank you, Dad.
Husband, Father, Grandfather, Photographer, Cat Lover and Documentary Photographer