Here is my submission for a daily inspiration. It is a long story, so
hopefully this doesn’t disqualify it. I used my M8 camera and a 35mm f/2
Zeiss Biogon on f/2.8. The shutter speed was 1/90th and 1/125th.
More pictures can be seen on my website troybradfordphotos.com. I
have three blogs that are all tied together on this website (the main
blog, iphone photo blog and street photography blog). Thanks for your
consideration. Keep up the good work on your great website…
So last fall I was walking around my hometown Greenville, Texas looking for old buildings to photograph and use for backdrops. I am peeking in a window when I hear this guy behind me yell “hey man, do you have some change to spare so I can get something to eat”. I am not
one to carry around much cash but I had a couple of bucks in my wallet so I gave it to him. As he started pedaling off, I realized something. He was pedaling with one leg… Of course, here I am with my M8 around my neck and I absolutely missed the “decisive moment”. I
struggled with this for some time. As much as I wanted the photo, I kept asking myself how could I have asked him for a photo without disrespecting/insulting him.
Since that time I have decided that if I ever saw him again I would approach him, talk to him, try to learn a little about him, see if he needed some money to get something to eat and ask for that picture. I am now a firm believer that both the giver and receiver can be blessed
if it is handled in the correct way. I definitely use that approach with my street photography for certain situations such as this. Unfortunately, every time I have seen him as I was driving through downtown, I didn’t have my M8 with me. That is until tonight… My son-in-law and I were passing through downtown on our way to scout some photo locations on the east side of Greenville. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the gentleman sitting beside his bike at the local Super Plaza. My heart started racing because I knew that I couldn’t let this opportunity pass without circling the block and stopping. The reality of stopping and talking to a stranger, ultimately asking them to allow you to take a picture, makes me very nervous. It is amazing how the adrenaline starts flowing in your body as you are approaching the stranger.
I approached him and asked him how he was doing. I told him the story of how I first met him and how I still occasionally see him around the town. We talked for a little bit and exchanged names. He asked me to guess his age and I came pretty close (missed it by 2 years). He was very gracious and let me take the pictures. Of course the lighting was getting very low, as darkness was approaching, and I was shaking because of the rush of the moment. But I think I still captured the moment and you can see a man who has lived through his own set of
hardships (some more visible than others). I showed him the product on the screen and let him know that his facial features are perfect for street photography. I shook his hand, gave him a little money to help him along and left. What a great experience! Every time that I meet/photograph someone who is making his/her way through hard times, I feel fortunate. Fortunate of all my current blessings and fortunate that I took the time out of my life to meet this person and hear their story…
From Steve – Thanks Troy. Reminds me of the work I did years ago with my MP here . Thanks for sharing. 🙂
What a great surprise to wake up this morning and realize that Steve posted my Daily Inpiration! Thanks for the kind words of encouragement from all of you! Molo, poor choice of a word (voyeuristic). Maybe you have the wrong word or have some other thought-up meaning. If anything, this man is a victim of circumstance. For all any of us know, it may be a circumstance that he created. Not really an important point though. The great thing is that he is not somebody who lays around in his pity. His primary mode of getting around town just happens to be a bicycle. There is no disservice done to him by taking his picture while he is taking a rest at the local supermarket. It is no different from taking a picture of anybody on the street and posting it. Everybody has a story. The real question is “are we willing to take the time out of our lives to listen to their story” (and maybe even tell others)…
The picture of him pedaling would have been the one to get. This seems … voyeuristic. Although I do not question your sincere intentions, the pictures portrait this man as a victim which is doing him a disservice. Just my thoughts.
@troy- congratulations on a wonderful, inspiring story.
@molo71- agreed, “decisive moment” missed. but, while all i may see here are two pictures of a guy missing a leg… i’m not sure how that does the subject a disservice or makes him a victim. were troy or his camera responsible for the hardships encumbering upon this man? he took some pictures of someone he found interesting, someone who walks through life differently than he does, and it interested him to do so… so what? he also, in the process, took the time to ‘get to know’ somebody who most would just walk by or hope not to be pestered by. if you see the subject as a victim, it is because you have already separated him from proper humanity in your own mind. if that scenario is grotesque, than i’d argue that the victim and the unfortunate one there, is not the subject… but us.
the only issue i have here, is that i, myself, find the pictures bland. if you approach someone, with the aim of ‘taking’ their picture, and then engage in conversational foreplay to make yourself feel more comfortable in taking that picture, then you’re probably gonna walk away with a picture that feels posed or forced, (which to me these do) because your intention of ‘taking’ something, was obvious from the time you walked up. everyone has their methods, and to each their own. but, in my experience, regardless of who you are taking pictures of or how many legs they have, if you open yourself to them, simply listen to them, and ‘receive’ them, rather than ‘take’ from them… you get more out of it.
anyways… this is my friend, michael. he is a knower of great things and yet, humbly insists that he isn’t very interesting. he is a veteran and immune to all disease. he enjoys vodka and also, orange flavored gatorade. he loves god and southern louisiana, in spite of the fact that they took his home and his wife, in hurricane katrina. he told me that, ‘she was all he had between this earth and god.’ say what you want about how much a picture is worth, i’ll never forget those words. i hope that we can all be so fortunate to feel that way about anything… to feel that blessed.
You were thoughtful and kind in your actions. When we travel and photographing people as they go about thier daily routines, I hope we remember to be as thoughtful and considerate.
Great story, Great images.
Amazing image and inspiring story.Thanks for sharing…
Pedaling with one leg? Wow, tough guy! Inspiring story, Troy!
What an inspirational story this is. Powerful images as well. Thanks for sharing.