Monday, August 16, 2010

Strange Situations

Here we are with another installment of photos that I've taken of random strangers.
Well the first shot isn't a stranger at all, but yours truly, though agreed, I may indeed be stranger than the strangers. Taken by my son Gavyn, I had no idea he was taking my photograph because as you can see, I'm busy doing my own thing. Looks like we might have another secret agent on our hands?! Again for me though, this type of photography has become something that I really love. Those little vignettes of life, scattered all around us, unfolding at a moments notice. Often they may go unnoticed, but for me when I not only get to witness, but also capture these moments, well, it brings me a lot of joy. A little visual documentation of some of life's simple pleasures.
People are always aware of wanting to freeze life's big moments in time, a wedding of course, as one always hopes it will be a once in a lifetime event. And who hasn't turned into a full fledged paparazzi member once they have kids....especially with the first born and their first few years, we can't get enough of recording each milestone that they reach. All absolutely valid reasons to become a little camera crazy!!
Granted these are big moments that you want to capture with photographs that usually speak loud and clear to what the image is trying to convey.
For me, a large appeal of photographing strangers, aside from being at the right place and the right time, I love not knowing the whole story behind the image.
To some degree, the image will tell part of that tale, but there are also so many variables that it keeps it interesting for me. I guess, that's why I'm a writer as well. I like to imagine the story behind the image. To me, capturing these simple little moments are just as important and I think more often than not, they give you a better visual record of that person's life. Ever since I was a kid, this type of photograph has intrigued me. It was always cool to see a perfectly lit, staged promo shot of someone famous, but I found I was even more drawn to the casual image that showed a glimpse into what this person may really be like. Here are my thoughts on these images that I have taken.

This photo was taken in Tofino last fall, and I swear I've never seen two people so excited to see the water as these two women. It was pure joy to witness their excitement as they raced towards the waves. Maybe they came here as kids, and hadn't returned in years, or perhaps best friends reunited again after years apart. No way of knowing for sure, but the joy that they shared in that moment, was without question.

This next image was taken in Vancouver during the Olympic Games. I took my older son down for the day to take in some of the atmosphere, and with hopes of taking some good photos while we were there. As luck would have it, weather wise, we picked the worst day. At a time when we'd been having almost summer-like weather, we go on the one day that it rained. No, I can't really say poured!!
So much so that my winter jacket was soaked right through. It was so grey and dull that you couldn't even see the mountains. I said to Gavyn, 'OK, so this will be a challenge for me to get good shots, but we are going to have a great time today'. It was so much fun, Vancouver normally offers such spectacular scenic views, so this time I enjoyed finding something other than the natural scenery to photograph. When you're not distracted by it's obvious beauty, you may also find yourself dazzled by it's simple beauty. Interesting shop displays, public art, people and just objects in general. I loved how this guy was going to wave his flag, despite the weather. He rode back and forth several times along Coal Harbour, and it seems each time he did, I'd have my back to him shooting something else. Finally, on his last lap before disappearing into the sunset?, I quickly turned and got this shot!

I found this scene very amusing. Many times over the years, I've seen various tour buses pull into Stanley Park near the totem poles and let it's occupants out for a photo op. Never though, have I seen so many get into pose or shoot mode so quickly!!
It was so cute, bus doors open....oodles of people appear and within about 2 minutes, half go and pose, while the other half stand back to capture!! Nobody seemingly, not sure of their position, it looked as if each one knew exactly where they were going. Almost like a graceful choreographed dance!

Off to Bear Creek Park now and I see this very familiar scene. I wanted to capture this image because I've always admired the sense of community. I love how all of these men have gathered at one table, to play games, get caught up with friends or just shoot the breeze. I like how some are doing their own separate things, but yet everyone still looks welcomed as part of a group. I thought it was a sweet scene, especially as you'll notice the one man has his arm around another.
The whole scene to me is very inclusive, which is lovely.

Still at Bear Creek Park, I spot this lone man on a bench, again for me, I'm always amazed at how relaxed people can be reading in public. I've tried this on more than one occasion, mostly when I've travelled on my own. I get too distracted by my surroundings and find myself daydreaming more than reading....I tend to have to read a paragraph over several times before I really take it in. I think I'll stick to reading in bed, as peaceful as park reading looks, I fear it would take me a year of daily visits to finish a book!

This last image was taken a couple of weeks ago, on top of Burnaby Mountain. It was one of those nights that we'd been having where the sun glowed an incredible vivid red, a beautiful, albeit unfortunate result of the forest fires in various parts of the province. Again it was just a sense of community that struck me. These men were all happily hanging out together staring with amazement, like everyone else on the mountain, and this spectacular glowing red ball. A simple gathering to share in this natural delight. Each time the kids and I passed them, they would all smile and nod at us, as if to acknowledge that yes, we are all part of this together. I've been up the mountain many times over the years, and usually people come and go, doing there own thing, but this glowing red sun had this odd force to it. It was obvious that we were all up here for the same thing, everyone chatted with each other and marvelled in awe and the sight before our eyes. Incredibly peaceful to watch that sun go down.
But as my stories often seem to peace went away about fifteen minutes after the sun when down....I had asked the kids to take their ice-cream wrappers to the garbage that was located about 10 feet behind us. As I chat away to my mum, we hear this loud sound...the *ping* of heavy metal being hit!! Before I can even turn my head I hear Owen screaming and then as I turn, I see the metal post, that moments ago was in the ground, is now lying on the ground!! As he runs to me crying, I'm trying to piece together what has just happened....I thought he must have run into it on the return...10 foot trip!!
Turns out, he grabbed onto it to spin around as he passed it and it came off it's support he quickly tried to put it back in before we could see, he clunked himself in the head with it!!! The serenity I had felt from the gorgeous sunset now seeming like a distant memory and I'm snapped right back to my regular crazy life!!
Ha, speaking of snapped.....yes, before we left, I also took a picture of Owen standing next to the offending post!! Sometimes being a hard head can be good, so I wanted the visual evidence!


  1. story in a story in a story.. truly picture says a lot....and u indeed are a very gud story teller:)

  2. Yet again Secret Agent Mel, has delivered! Well done.

  3. Thank you Harpreet and Rachel for your lovely and kind words of support. They are very much appreciated! xoxo

  4. Fabulous-I will read your writing anyday-
    Keep it comin'.

  5. Thanks so much Amy!! You're so sweet - your support is really appreciated! xoxo

  6. To freeze the actual momment is a talent on its own, but to blanket it with descriptive words puts you in a catagory on which only few people manage to do,, great job,, thank you!!

  7. Thank you so much Carlos! Wow - I'm really touched by your words, I appreciate you taking the time to check out my blog, it means a lot to me. xoxo

  8. I am so looking forward to your next writings you've got me hooked. Great job S.E.M!!

  9. Thanks Jody!!! I need all the regulars that I can get - your support is very much appreciated!! xoxo

  10. Great story mel love it keep them comeing

  11. Thanks for reading, it's very much appreciated Janice!! :-)
    More coming soon!! xox