This image poses the ever-present dilemma for me, color vs black and white.
I was attracted to Mike because of the luxurious red beard. I told him so, and he smiled and said “OK.” This was in Clearwater, and he works in a bike shop a couple of blocks from where we met. “I live and breath bicycles.” I asked what kind if biking he likes. The answer was all of it, road bikes, BMX, mountain biking, anything.
I told Mike that my son (now 40) used to be big into BMX racing. Mike and I knew some of the same people associated with the sport. In fact, Mike used to work for J&R Bicycles in St. Petersburg. I remember the family that owns it, the Morrisons quite well. We recounted the individual family members, it was a trip down Memory Lane for me. Small world.
I first prepared the image for color, demonstrating the beard. But just for the heck of it, I made a B&W version too. Wow, what a difference. For me, Mike's personality just comes forward in B&W. The image is about HIM, not his beard. It just more accurately portrays what I want to see in strangers. It's like Steve McCurry says – a little piece of the soul.