As many of you know I work a lot in Central City. Not only do I photograph second lines and abandoned stuff, but I try to talk to, and photograph, the people who live in the neighborhood. For a long while, I was working on a very long form project there. That’s sort of fallen by the wayside, but you never know.
This man is Roosevelt. My new buddy. He lives in the building next door to the old Dew Drop Inn. Given that he’s 78 years old, he’s been around a long time. He knows a lot of stories. He hung out at the Dew Drop when music was actually played there. He was stabbed after winning a lot of money playing pool. He was shot in the upper chest during a robbery attempt on him. He talked to me for a long while. He told me to knock on his door if I want to see the inside of the Dew Drop, which is finally being renovated and restored. That’s a great thing. Not only would I like to go inside, but it is one of the landmarks of music. Everybody played there. Ray Charles. Fats Domino. Dave Bartholomew. Little Richard wrote and worked through “Tutti Fruiti” there. This is one of “those” places. It’s like the old Club Desire, except that it isn’t falling in on itself. By the way, the original lyrics to “Tutti Fruiti” are as nasty as any song you’ve ever heard.
His big advice to me is to not trust anybody on the street, no matter what they look like. See the guy sort of in the background? He looks like a version of me. Except I don’t wear baseball caps. He was walking up the block. Roosevelt gave him a long look and decided he might be okay. When he saw me he was walking on a side street. I held my camera up so he could see what I was doing. I guess I’m okay. We talked for about fifteen minutes.
The picture. One of my favorite ways of working. It is a sort of street portrait. So many people claim to be street photographers these days that I just have to take a break and really look at what’s been posted around the internet. Most of it is junk. No engagement with the subject. No decisive moment. No graphics. No photojournalism. Most of it is made from behind the subject. Or, of a bunch of unrelated people doing very little on a street. Most of it looks like it was made with a long lens from about a million miles away. I could write a lot more. But…