I have met, and photographed, several baristas from the coffee shop, Pastry Art. Now I have moved part time to Buddy Brew Coffee, and will be meeting some of their employes. Such as Jay. He worked for Buddy Brew in Tampa and was sent to Sarasota when this branch opened. Jay is the manager.
Originally he is from Dublin, Ireland, although his brogue is minimal. While living in Ireland he visited Australia and met his future wife there. She is from Brooksville, FL. The compromised on a city to live. He, Dublin, Ireland, she, Brooksville FL, and they settled in Tampa. I think she won. They were married five years ago, and have two kids, 1 and 3. Jay is glad that she can afford to stay home and raise them. In about five months, he'll be transferred back to Tampa, his work here done. Note: the humidity in Florida is greater than in Ireland, if you didn't know.
I asked for coffee after lunch and the big pot was empty. Rather than brew a new pot, he brewed a single cup for me. Jay did not just pour the water in, he gently poured as he moved the carafe around the rim so that all areas received it the same. This attention to detail separates real baristas from coffee shop employees.
Well, now it's really hot- and muggy. So when I visit a coffee shop, I sit inside, at first at least. While sipping Joe with the camera on the table, Laura passed by, smiled, and said, “Hope you're getting some nice shots today.” My thought was, “Not as good as I will in a few minutes.
She passed the opposite way, went outside, and sat with Dan. Suddenly it wasn't so hot after all, as I followed. When I announced my intention, I was surprised that Laura didn't jump at it. Instead she was reserved, and glanced at Dan who said, “Sure, why not.” Whew!
Laura is a psychotherapist and was not to anxious to talk about her work. I get that.
Dan is from the New York / Newark area and moved to Florida in 1978. He is in finance and had plenty to say about the debt run up by college students. Many of his clients are physicians who just don't have the earning potential of those a generation ago. Yet they have (Much) more debt. He worked with a couple: both were dentists. They had a combined $700,000 debt. How can they possibly pay that off?
As I walked along River Street in Savannah, I noticed a fellow photographing a woman and (presumably) her daughter. I thought that it might be his family. Ambling a bit further, I stopped into a bakery, bought a pastry, and sat outside. The sidewalk in front of me became a bit congested, and here came the photographer again. He stopped an African American couple and asked them to take their photos. He was high energy and smiling, explaining that it was a hobby and there was no charge.
I was nearly stunned. He was doing almost the same thing I do! Unfortunately, he also got the same result I often get; they politely declined.
I fumbled with my phone, getting my Flickr Photostream ready. As soon as he was done, I shot up, showed him my phone, and explained what I do. Jamey does some studio work, but does street portraits for fun. While his wife and daughter were sightseeing, he had an hour to kill, and had made 12 portraits to that time. Jamey (who calls himself Rockit Surgeon) just gets images, no stories. Here is his website: http://rockitsurgery.com/
Of course, we exchanged cards. This posting is about three weeks later, and Jamey and I have had back-and-forth contact, including the infamous Facebook. Here is his Facebook presence: https://www.facebook.com/jamey.firnberg?pnref=friends.search
Although he has not been obtaining stories from his 'strangers', Jamey has made a very impressive video with a most intimidating character. “Boo Boo” has a sordid past and intimidating presence. I am impressed that Jamey connected with him well enough to extract very specific and troubling information. I suggest that you at least watch the first couple of minutes. Like me, you may be hooked, and watch the rest. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgMWJsU9jgo
Interestingly, when he photographed me, he had me put my chin down. Jamey automatically put his chin down for my image. We agreed that the angle of the jaw helps hide the neck. Some whiskers don't hurt either.
Walking down River Street in Savannah, I happened to look into a bar (I said LOOK!). It was quite dark, and Sarah's hair popped out. So I went in and met Sarah. After explaining the popping hair, she was happy to be photographed – one of my few indoor shots.
After introductions, I asked if her name had an 'H' at the end, and of course it does. I explained that I have to Sara(h)s in the family, one spelled each way. Sarah assured me that it is always better to have the 'H'. Sorry, Sara.
Sarah is from Greensboro North Carolina, celebrating her birthday and 'getting away' for a while. Happy Birthday, Sarah!
“What do you do in Greensboro?”
“I'm a bartender.”
“So you work in a bar and 'get away' by going to a bar?”
“I guess I go where I'm comfortable.”
Jessica has been around. She is originally from California (multiple houses), but has lived in Maryland, Boston, and now Savannah. Her parents were in schools while she was growing up: hence, the peripatetic lifestyle. After graduating from college she would like to move out west, Utah maybe.
Jessica is about to begin her senior year at The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). Her major is Graphic Design, but she really likes typography. Now there's a specialized field! I asked where one would work with that specialty. The possibilities include Hallmark Cards and Penguin (I think that's what she said).
I met Jessica at a table outside of the Gallery Expresso coffee shop. She works there part time while going to school. Jessica is very open and easy to talk to – she immediately invited me to sit with her. The open conversation is reflected on the artwork on her right arm. She designed it (of course), and reminds us to 'speak from the heart.'
I love it. I am trying to get in touch with her about buying the file. A shirt with that logo (and message) would be perfect when stranger hunting.
Linda looked like an unlikely parking lot attendant. But there she was, minding a lot that might have held 30 cars.
She only works on Sundays.
“What about weekdays?”
“I'm getting tired.”
Tommy was sitting on a public bench in City Market, Savannah. I walked around a bit to envision a shot that would put his white hair against a dark background. Finding what I liked, I approached him, explained the project and asked permission for a portrait. His eyes drilled through me as he thought about it. Tommy looked to his side as if a friend would advise him. Finally he said, “OK, for a dollar.” Every man has his price; Tommy's price is $1.
I explained hot his hair would 'pop' against the background, but he seemed unimpressed. When I showed him the pics, he shrugged. Struggling, I said, “I could remove those scabs in Photoshop.” Tommy laughed and said “I got that when I fell on concrete.”
“Oh, bet that bled a lot.”
“Yeah, hurt like hell too. Tripped over a curb.”
“Were any alcoholic beverages involved?”
“Oh, yeah. OHHH Yeah!”
Stella was walking through City market, in Savannah, with a Canon 7D. She is an amateur doing mostly travel photography. Two years ago she went to Africa and bought the 7D for that trip. Stella knows art; she went to film school for a while.
Stella was visiting from Lake Wales, FL. Small world, my niece and nephew both graduated from Warner college in Lake Wales: Stella knows it well. She is an insurance adjuster for State Farm Insurance. Her mother was with her and they were about to leave for Myrtle Beach, SC. When I pulled the camera up and asked for no 'say cheese smile', Stella immediately assumed this pose.
She liked the photos, but did not want a copy.
Early in Savannah, Mike ran across the street and approached me. There were few people about, and my dress and camera were a dead giveaway that I was a tourist. I have been asked for money before, and I felt it coming. But this one had a twist.
Mike said, “I never ask for money, and I am very embarrassed. But could you buy me breakfast at McDonalds?” He didn't want money, he wanted food. So we went to a Mickey Ds a block away and he got $8 worth of calories. He isn't thin for no reason.
He has no wife or kids. Last year he had a job in Athens, GA, delivering furniture. It paid $8/hour, but the company went out of business. Currently he lives in a tent, under a bridge. Mike insisted on showing me a picture of Tiffany with her phone number. Tiffany had two days work for him at the end of the week – he hopes that it will develop into something more. Mike also showed me a shiny new VISA card. H & R block filed his income taxes; he is due refunds from both the state and IRS. When Block receives the money, the VISA debit card will be charged up.
For most of us, the United States is a first world country. But some citizens live in the third world.
While walking toward River Street in Savannah, I saw a tall, slim woman with looong hair on the other side of the street. Walking fast, I could not overtake her without breaking into a run. Not gonna happen. So I temporarily gave up.
A few minutes later I had arrived at the Savannah River's edge, and there she was, standing still. So I immediately approached her. As soon as I began to ask, a freighter blew a prolonged horn signal, six seconds of ear splitting noise. I just looked at her, smiled, and shrugged. When I got to explain the project she sheepishly said OK. She was shy with a tiny voice.
The problem came when I asked her name; I just could not understand it. She kept saying, “D-Y-S, then 'like the singer.” Ok, Dysinatra? Dystreisand? It took a quick Google search to find the singer Shakira. That was it, Dyshakira. How could a guy of my generation miss that? I hum Shakira tunes in the shower every evening.
Dyshakira is a Savannah native, and attends Armstrong State University, in town. She works as a hostess at the Westin Resort, on the opposite side of the river. She was waiting for a ferry. That's why she walked so fast, but then stopped.
Pierre was reading outdoors in City Market, Savannah GA. He looked serious. When I asked him to be part of the project, he said, “Sure, sir.”
“Just Bob, please.”
He was just formal, and couldn't help himself.
Pierre was from Lauden, SC. During high school years he spent two years in technology school. His specialty was graphic arts. Pierre's next stop was Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). It's amazing that SCAD has become a revered art school in only about 40 years. He just graduated! The next stop is California later this summer where he will look for a job designing packaging.
I asked about his name. His father is Haitian, and he speaks creole. Pierre does not.
Ryan was entertaining with the guitar, in front of the same wall as Happy, #892. He is from the southeast coast of Florida, visiting friends in the area.
He loves Asheville. In fact, I'm not sure why he's going back to Florida.
Oh yeah, most of all he loved being photographed.