My friend David and I went photographing a few weeks ago. I had a new camera + lens (Leica M6 + Leica 35mm f1.4 Summilux) and wanted to try out some new black and white film (Kodak Tri-X 400). I knew this whole combination would be a challenge for me: I’m not really known for my street photography, nor am I known for my black and whites. But sometimes we need to give ourselves a push towards Uncomfortable; towards mind-numbing Fear. So I did.
Together we drove out in the Canberra cold. It was grey and windy. It started sprinkling before we even got started, but we both looked at each other, said, “Oh well,” and shivered in Narrabundah.
And then we met Alan. We were driving in the dark, headed towards the local railway tracks when I saw something in the corner of my eye. Now, I’ve had lots of moments where I’d see something, wish I’d stopped, but kept driving for whatever reason. On this day, however, I wasn’t going to let resistance (in any manifestation of the word: excuses, reasons, insecurities) beat me. So I braked suddenly (probably making David wish he didn’t agree to let me drive), put the car in reverse, and pulled up to the front of this beautiful yard decor.
Decor is probably the wrong word for it. Historic relic? Someone’s passion? There was definitely a story to this object, and I was dying to know its history. Fortunately for me, there was a man sitting in the driveway, with hands as seemingly old as the wood he was carving. I took a deep breath, and physically pushed myself towards him. After a few moments of nervous banter, I let my guard down and just watched him. I wondered about his story, how it came to be that I happened to drive past his house on that very afternoon, and wished I had more hours in the day to get to know him. In our brief conversation, I learned that he was an artist in the true sense of the word: driven by passion to create works of art that he was never fully satisfied with.
It’s truly amazing what you can learn from someone in 20 minutes.
It was one of those inspiring moments. This stranger let another stranger come onto his property to photograph him and talk with him. Just ’cause.
For this moment, I’m forever grateful to Alan because it’s changed something within me: I’m now that person that can walk up to a total stranger and talk to them. And photograph them. And learn their story through and through.
Isn’t that insane? To learn something new about yourself?
What a revelation it was.
So this is Alan, stranger-turned-new-friend-who-is-responsible-for-a-Pobke-awakening. Doesn’t he look like the kind of person that could ignite something new in you too? I like to think so.