It’s easy to tell myself stories about some of the photos I take. In looking at this one, for instance, I might imagine the woman is smiling at the man, happy at the prospect of surprising him in the middle of the workday … perhaps it’s his birthday … or maybe their anniversary.
In real life, as far as I know, these two people – the man smoking and the woman carrying the bouquet of flowers – are not connected. There’s another woman (stage right) not included in the image. I believe that’s who my flower bearer is looking toward, not the smoker.
“I didn’t want copies of objects — I wanted the ephemeral connections between unrelated things to vibrate,” Joel Meyerowitz, a masterful street photographer who has thought long and deeply about his craft, said in an interview. “And if my pictures work at all, at their best — they are suggesting these tenuous relationships. And that fragility is what is so human about them. And I think its what is in the ‘romantic tradition’ — it is a form of humanism that says we’re all part of this together. I’m not just a selector of objects.”
I understand what he’s saying, even if many of my images are, in fact, selections of objects. I frequently photograph what in the moment strikes my whimsy. With growth as a photographer and storyteller (and, perhaps, more importantly, as a person), I’ll enjoy increased ability to single out commonalities among disparate things and people, and make more – not just take more – photos.
As I age, these tenuous relationships, as Meyerowitz describes them, seem more and more important. Making sense of the world isn’t easy. Believing we –- all humans, or most of us, at any rate – have fundamental commonalities and similar needs is as good a starting point as any.