A few weeks ago, I was reading a stellar submission by Stephen Flounders (coming soon in the magazine, don’t miss it!). He talked about his experience doing a 365 project – the challenges, the lessons. It was a great article and got me thinking about street photography projects in general…and then it hit me. I suddenly remembered a street photography project I started when I was 16 years old. We’re talking early 2000’s. It never registered before, I never made the connection – probably because when I started it, I had no knowledge of photography and certainly no idea what street photography was. In fact, my only tools were a collection of disposable cameras and the neighborhood drugstore photo developer.
As I pondered this revelation, I realized I probably had the photos stashed at my Dad’s place in an old photo box. And as luck would have it (Whether good or bad luck is still TBD) a few South American bugs ended my long run abroad and forced me to take a break and head home a couple of weeks ago. Now was my chance to see what kind of gems were hidden away…
Before we get to the images let me just tell you what I remember about my “project.” I remember stocking up on disposable cameras and making a proposal to my little group of friends. We were all to buy our disposable cameras and then stay on the lookout for interesting people or places around good ol’ Orange Park, Florida. Orange Park is not a big city by any counts, and while it has a pretty high population count – most of it is spread out across a large patch of suburbia. One of the places I consider today to be a most challenging backdrop for street photography. The funny thing is that as I looked over the images I dug up I realized I still had that 16-year-0ld, just got my license (a.k.a. freedom), everyone and everything is new and amazing point of view, which resulted in some fairly interesting images (even if composition and technique isn’t that great).
So here is what I dug out of that dust covered box I was able to recover from the deepest, darkest closet in my dad’s house. I’ve added what I remember about each photo – when I could remember something at all.
The following images were taken in St. Augustine – where my brother and I would go to surf every weekend. St. George street was the place to grab a Coke and a slice of pizza afterwards and it was always full of interesting characters like these:
Since my friends weren’t so enthusiastic about photographing strangers, my disposable camera shots dwindled and I eventually upgraded to a little point and shoot (although I have no idea what kind it was). A couple of years later, I started traveling some – mostly South and Central America, where it seems my love for “interesting characters” continued, judging by the contents of the dusty little photo box:
And so as far as I can tell, street photography was always there in my life, even though I’d forgotten about it. Sometimes it was carried out with more or less purposefulness, but it was there. I’m sure most of you have had similar experiences.
And if I learned anything from digging up this old box, it’s this – even if you don’t make a classic work of art, don’t stop taking street shots. Years down the road they’ll revive experiences, moments and people that you might have otherwise forgotten about.