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  • Writer's pictureFotomondeo

Story of an image - Number 9

Love and despair.....

That's the title I gave to this photo when I first uploaded it to Flickr.

I don't do enough street photography. I've spent little time dedicated to it, but when I have done some, I've captured some interesting subjects. For some it can be daunting. I guess there is the fear of confrontation if someone objects to having their photo taken. It's not happened to me, and to mitigate the risk I have on occasion actually approached the subject and asked them if I can photograph them. I didn't with the above image though. It was a spur of the moment shot.

How did I come to capture in one shot, the weary despair of an obviously unwell homeless man, and a carefree couple in love oblivious to his plight?

It was the height of summer and I was in town early one morning. As usual I had my camera bag with me. Looking at other shots from that day it's clear that I wasn't on a particulate mission, I just went out with the camera.

I was sat down enjoying my usual breakfast, a cappuccino and a tostada, watching the world go by. As I took in my surroundings I saw the above man sat on a piece of street furniture. His clothes were dirty, he looked tired and the way his fingers were swollen indicated some sickness. With him he had a suitcase, a carrier bag, and a jacket folded on top of his case. Were these his only worldly possessions? He looked so weary, so tired of his existence. A sad scene indeed.

My musings were interrupted by the sounds of laughter and happiness. A couple ambled by without an obvious care in the world. What a contrast to what I had just been looking at. Without thinking I grabbed my camera bag and swapped lenses, putting a zoom lens onto the camera. Could I capture in one shot the man's despair and the love shared by the couple?

As I focussed on the man he looked at me with a kind of detached interest. My actions were not important in his life. He watched me, as with my camera to my face I waited for the couple to come into view.

And there it is. I got it. I got what I was looking for, the huge contrast in one shot.

I put the camera away and finished my breakfast. After paying the bill I walked to the guy and wished him a good morning. He thanked me and smiled as I gave him some euros.

I hope in some way I made his day a little better. He left an impression on me, and when I see the above photograph I wonder what came of him.

If you are interested in the settings, it was 1/640th of a second at ISO640 with aperture at f5.6, shot a 200mm.

Thank you for reading.

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