Mack (#453) 11-08-13

My wife and I walked down market St., a main thoroughfare in downtown St. Louis. It was about 4PM with a moderate number of pedestrians in the park that splits Market St. From behind, I could sense more than see, someone running towards us. This young fellow, slightly out of breath, asked if I could help him. He needed a few dollars before 5PM to get his car out of a for-pay parking lot, or it would be locked up for the night. I was a bit surprised as I had never been approached like that when my wife was present. I was very skeptical about the story, but am prepared for such an eventuality.

I said, “I can help, but I’d like a favor from you in return.” Then I explained the 100 Strangers project. He brightened up and said, “Sure, no problem.” I keep a few dollars in a compartment in my pocket, so that I can retrieve it without pulling out my wallet. So, I gave him the money before photographing him. In a VERY brief encounter, I think that this builds a teeny bit of trust, and results in a more authentic portrait. After receiving the money, he was more than happy to pose for a minute.

I asked his name. He said “Mack, like the truck.” We shook hands and parted. He sauntered away slowly, without running.

Some photographers feel that it is not appropriate to give anyone money prior to a portrait. I cannot argue against that, but act as I do for two reasons:

  1. I am basically a softie, and am inclined to help someone less fortunate, even if their story is suspect.

  2. Photographers sometimes pay a fair amount of money to a pretty lady to model. So why not pay a little for a ‘regular’ person to be photographed?

That’s just how I feel.