Walking the streets of Bedford, PA, I saw a coffee shop waitress on break, having a smoke. I introduced myself and asked if I could take her picture. “Oh, no, but one of my co-workers, Lisa, will do it” So I stepped inside the shop, and I met Lisa, and her response was “Oh no, not me, but meet Bob, he’s a photographer too”.
So having lunch at a table was a very senior citizen who invited me to sit. I did, and was thinking how I could get his photograph in a couple of minutes, and leave. But I quickly realized that this would be an unusual encounter with a very interesting man, one of the perks of street portraiture. Bob described himself as a curmudgeon – I’ll leave it at that.
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Bob started telling me how his career was in government foreign service, and he lived, and photographed all over the world. Lisa brought a couple of Bob’s prints that were displayed in the shop. They were travel images from Europe and Africa. Bob asked Lisa to bring a laptop, which she did, but his failing eyesight and the obstreperous trackpad made operation difficult for him. I took over the laptop driving chores while Bob told me where to click. We went to his son Bob’s website (I’ll call him Bob Jr. – too many Bobs here), which is devoted to his vintage camera collection museum, and all things Leitz optical. See it HERE. One portion of the site is for cameras that Bob Sr. had used throughout his career, with slideshows of images captured with each camera. That can be seen HERE. Most of the images are of the travel and landscape genres, with few containing people. One exception was a portrait of his wife, taken several decades ago. I did not have to ask about her status.
Lisa clearly has a fondness for Bob Sr., and is a character in her own right.
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This encounter reinforces the relevance of my favorite W. B. Yeats quote that appears at the top of the page:
“There are no strangers here; only friends that you haven’t yet met.”