Latest project…stay tuned.
Stuff I Like //
Mambu Bayoh is a Liberian born Sierra Leonean photographer I’ve recently become familiar with. I’ve been following his Instagram (MambuB) for some time now and have completely fallen in love with not only his black and white portraits, but all of his work. Incredible is an understatement. Visit his website MambuBayoh.com and follow his blog StaySuckaFree.tumblr.com.
Last night a friend asked me a simple question: “If you could do anything with photography, what would you do?” I gave a simple response at first: “I would travel and photograph people. People in places.”
As I thought about the question along with my response in depth I realized my dreams in photography aren’t all that simple. I want to do more, I’ll always want to do more. No matter what point I’m at in my dream, I’ll always strive for more. That being said…I need to do more now. Why wait? I constantly complain to myself now about how I’m not where I want to be yet I’m not doing much- if anything- to get where I would like to be.
The year is coming to an end. I don’t want to make any lame New Year’s Resolutions but I do want to promise myself I’ll do more in 2014 than I did in 2013 within the realm of photography.
Photo above is a man I met on Capitol Hill in Seattle. His ferret was to keep his hands warm.
While attempting to find parking in Pioneer Square (the arts district of Seattle) I met Rudy for the first time. I had just pulled over to the curb side of the street in order to make a u-turn when he rode his bike up to my car bumping his head to the music I played. He tapped on my window, gesturing for me to roll it down. I shook my head ‘no’ but persistent he was. He tapped again this time holding up a finger to mean he only wanted a minute of my time. I knew I had nothing to give him except a few $2 Canadian coins from my recent trip to Vancouver, BC but I paused the music and rolled down my window anyway. He asked me if I could help him out to which I replied- “I have no cash.” “Well,” he said, “can you at least turn the music back up so I can hear her?” I wondered when he said ‘her’ if he knew it was Miley Cyrus that I was listening to (no shame, Someone Else is a catchy song) or if he only noticed that it was a female voice coming through the speakers. I told him I had to go because some folks were waiting for me. As he rode away on his bike bumping his head to the music that was now playing once again in my car, I thought I’d never see him again.
I found a parking spot fairly quickly a few blocks away. I got out to pay the meter when I saw Rudy ride by again. He noticed me too and came up to the meter. He asked me a few questions and I replied honestly. What I was up to, where I was going, etc. Some people are frightened by those visibly less fortunate. Like they all have done something wrong or illegal to be in the situation they are in. Rudy immediately struck me as harmless and gentle. I don’t know if the main point of his beginning questions were to get something out of me or not though. His last question after I had finished at the meter was “Can you help out?” I had not lied before when I told him I didn’t have any money to give him. We walked past a small pub and I told him I could buy him some food with my debit instead to which he agreed but first I had to put the sticker on my car and grab my jacket.
He waited outside the place for me. I wondered again if he thought I was lying when I spoke. I planned to get my jacket and return to the spot where I left him but I’m sure people probably say they’ll be right back to him on the daily. He parked his bike and we walked in together. He sat down and asked me what he could get. My return question was “what do you want?” He first picked an omelette and a beer, an odd combination. No alcohol was my only condition. He ended up getting the King Calzone and a Pepsi. He asked me a few more times if that was okay. His mannerisms didn’t surprise me though. The waitress was kind of eyeing us…we obviously came from two different walks of life. I almost felt out of place standing next to him all bundled up with my Burberry scarf and camera strapped across my body. We talked a bit more about life. He mentioned how cold it’s been in Seattle lately and how the wind and rain had ruined his tent. It’s hard not to reflect on how fortunate you are when you meet someone who literally has nothing. I don’t have the power to change his entire situation but I did what I could and to me, that’s what matters.
Rudy agreed to let me take his photo. I deliberately photographed him with his head down and a second one of his hand for good measure. The friends I was supposed to be shooting had begun to wonder my ETA so I told him I had to leave but to enjoy his meal. I wrote down my information so if he ever got the chance he could look me up and possibly find his photo online. I paid for his food and tipped the waitress well. I hope she took care of him.
FINDING MY NICHE //
I only feel compelled to shoot fashion when it’s on the streets. In fact, I only feel compelled to shoot anything really when it’s surrounded by or immersed in the grunge of a cityscape.
While working on a new project, Black Aesthetic, I’ve been shooting more people who pose instead of my usual black and white photo-journalistic take on street photography. It has definitely been fun but it also makes me yearn to get back to what I love. Broadening my scope has actually helped me narrow my focus. I hate to make new years resolutions (I tend to never stick to them) so instead I’ll just commit to doing what I love. It’s really interesting to watch yourself develop. And I’ve learned more than anything to never let anyone devalue your work. Do what you love and they can’t tell you nothin’!
Odd Streets teaser…here’s what to expect! Available for purchase 04/20/2013 on www.gariwatkins.com
It has been a long journey filled with hard work and dedication but I am truly proud to be presenting my first book of photography, “Odd Streets” on April 20th. Please mark 04/20/2013 on your calenders. My Book Release party/Art show will be held at 5pm that evening at Morning Star Creative Group Studios in Renton, Washington! This is a FREE event that is open to the public. Drinks and refreshments will be served. Your support as I move forward with my personal passion for photography will be much appreciated.
RSVP on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/515641215144933/?fref=ts