Jan 082008

Usually, when scouting the field for some good subjects, I employ the ‘shoot & run’ tactic, an effective choice if you don’t mind angry cries and blurred images.

But today, when I was skulking around Brookline in the spring-like weather, taking my new Diana+ camera out for a test drive, I saw a photographic opportunity that I just couldn’t pass up; to walk away would have plagued me with nightmares of regret. A man was leaning against the brick wall of Kribel’s Bakery, smoking a cigarette. He looked middle age with sandy hair — styled loosely in a rockabilly coif — and tattoos and he sported tube socks that would have made Christina swoon; he looked like he was trying to grasp on to the last few strands of punk mentality that life had alotted him, like maybe he had gotten married and his wife was trying to force him to "grow up" but they compromised on a few accessories.  

As I approached, I recognized him as the baker from Kribel’s; I had seen him just a few weeks ago when I stopped in to buy a cake for Kim’s birthday and I remember promptly calling Henry to inform him of my new crush. I knew I needed his picture. But I didn’t hide behind a car or garbage can. I didn’t act like I was trying to "fix" something on the camera as I strolled past, looking skyward and murmuring "Tweedle dee dee." I didn’t pretend like I was taking a picture of the awesome brick wall next to him. I didn’t distract him by baring my breasts.

No, I walked up to him, caught his eye, and asked, "Do you mind if I take a picture of you?" I wanted a real photo of him; not streaks of his blue shirt, or the ground, or the sky, as I tried unsuccesfully to be covert.

His hand froze, cigarette midway to his mouth, and he repeated my request. "Can you take MY picture?" He looked around to see if anyone had heard. I didn’t make up a story about being a photography student. I didn’t pretend to be a tourist. I told the truth.

"I just got this toy camera, and I would really like to take your picture." OK, maybe I slipped in something about a fake portfolio. And that I wanted to fill it with faces of Brookline, a community that’s so dear to my heart. But for the most part, there was no nose-growing. He said yes, and two old men sitting nearby on a bench scurried away into a store, probably afraid they were next on my hit list.

Jesus Christ: enjoying Pixar movies, mending charred bridges, and now asking for permission to photograph someone in lieu of flat out stalking? What’s next — helping old bitches across the street? Don’t worry — I was terrorizing unsuspecting pedestrians with my Holga in another part of Pittsburgh earlier today, so it’s balanced.

  10 Responses to “A New Erin”

  1. i’m so proud of you!

    i hope the photoG turns out as awesome as that guy sounds. not only for his fantastic tube socks- but his hair, too~!!!!!

  2. Technically you don’t have to ask his permission. People are usually too intimidated to do anything about it if you take their picture as long as you act like you have every right to do it. Something about a camera, it makes tough guys weep.

    • Yeah, I know. Anything on the street is fair game, blah blah. I was trying to be polite. It’s a new side of me.

      Plus, there’s the incident from last week which I wouldn’t want to have repeated.

    • that “incident” was enough to scar a person for life

      i know i’m scarred.

    • It’s the flash that got ya! Get some high speed film and you can take pictures of all the local winos with no one the wiser.

      Of course you’ll have to develop it yourself because photo labs are bitches that way. >:(

    • It definitely will think twice before taking unsolicitated photos of strangers. At least make sure there’s an idling getaway car nearby, you know?

    • Or go in large groups. You can be like the random photo gang. You’ll roam the streets in packs, cameras at the ready. Those National Geographic photographer vests will be your colors.

  3. I’ll bet some part of him was flattered.

  4. Jesus Christ, Erin. Please please please please tell me his name isnt Pat.

    Also if you happen to become friends with this guy please dont EVER mention my name around Kriebels.

    Ill explain later.

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