Life as an Itinerant Photographer on the Festival Circuit
I’ve given a lot of thought to the good people that come into my booth on a summer’s afternoon to look at my work. Some of my images reach out and grab them by the heartstrings, or remind them of a life-changing event. Some of my images conjure up peaceful feelings in the viewer. And sometimes they are looking at a photograph for reasons they can't even fathom. They stare at a piece not knowing for sure why they're staring at it. Some see an image that perks their interest because it reminds them of a place they might have been with a loved one in the past. “Of course, I don’t mind if you look around”, I say. Sometimes they purchase a piece without even thinking about it: an impulse buy on a perfect afternoon. The memories so thick they have to brush them away from their faces. The one constant through all the years is art is a part of our past, It reminds us of all that once was good and could be again.
Here is the story behind just one of those images that happened at my last show. I was busy talking to a few folks that wanted to know about a photograph I had on display. While fielding their questions, a second couple who looked like they were in their forties were in front of my print “Gone Fishing”. The man was making hand gestures and the woman had tears running down her eyes. I was hoping that this wasn’t a spat, an argument in the making, but they left before I could ask them if they had any questions. This was Saturday afternoon. Come Sunday morning I’m back in my booth, sipping a cup of coffee while the festival got underway. The same fellow, minus his female counterpart was the first person to approach me. Pointing to the framed piece he said, “I’d like to buy this”. While I was wrapping up the photograph I casually remarked that I remembered seeing him in the booth yesterday. He told me that he had persuaded his wife to leave the house and get some air. Her father had passed away three weeks ago and she hadn’t left the house since the funeral. While strolling the show, they stopped in my booth to browse and it was upon seeing this one photograph that led to her emotions to overtake her. She had loved her father dearly, and ever since his retirement at age seventy, his constant mantra was “Gone Fishing”. He loved fishing so much, my customer said, that his daughter had the words, “Gone Fishing” printed on his mass card, which he took out from his wallet to show me. “She’s at mass and I want to have this hanging on the wall for when she comes home”, he said.
I photograph for a living. I’ve been shooting to make ends meet since I left school. It is my way of surviving, of earning a living and of navigating this world. It is my way of bringing something to the table, contributing what I believe is the best thing I have to offer for others to enjoy. I am also in the business of storytelling. I always have been, always will be. Telling stories, bringing life to characters, devising plots, visualizing scenes and staging sequences of events, images that tell a story. All in exchange for a penny, a smile and a little of your time and attention. And in this instance, a tear.