Friday, February 18, 2011

Fast Portraits.

Sigillum Civitatis Novi Eboraci is latin for Seal of New York City. I found the most amazing stamp with this spelled out upon it, on Wednesday while cruising with Leo downtown. Stamp Centrale is a stamp shop, one of the best I have ever seen. The stamp I picked up caught my eye as we hopped out of the bus. I can never resist a good crest.

French radio is ON. I made myself a mean latte (espresso machine at work? PARTY) and some porridge. Life is good, today is Friday, day one of my work week. Oddly enough, I am looking forward to my kitchen shifts this weekend. Olive, Dayna and Gareth are making a Montreal appearance from New York! I have also decided to finish my portfolios come hell or high water BY SUNDAY.

Moving on.

Now I am at Leo's house after the greatest day off yesterday. Yesterday morning I woke later than usual (hallelujah for a good 9:00 am sleep in) to chirping birds and blue Montreal skies. I puttered around the house, wiping walls, cleaning this and that, and enjoying the simplicity of a shower in the morning light (never happens). Actually it was completely wonderful to spend time in my home during the day, something I haven't done at all since moving in to Casa Clark. Busy lady, these days. My day off was long booked to get my printwork done for the photography portfolio. I had it printed by a handsome French man bright and early leaving me footloose and fancy free for the entire day. I blasted downtown in the late morning, under the warm sun, filling up a third roll and shooting fast portraits along the way. I just felt sharp yesterday, not sure where it came from but it was welcomed. Took quite a few fast portraits of dudes on the street in front of the PA grocery (one of the dudes was wearing a dirty butcher smock; ten points for bloody photography), of an old woman in a bus shelter, of ongoing street work, of the Great Melt!

Come to think of it, I woke to Spring! How nice, the day that winter broke: February 17th, 2011. Once I was downtown, I stopped in at Gap, picked up a new shirt as my wardrobe has been ultra slim these days. A nice pink smock for Spring, how lovely. Went to pick up a fresh crop of prints but they were not ready, damn! I walked so far just for that. Oh well, good thing I did! On my way back to Mile End, I rounded the corner at St. Catherine and was hustling up McGill College when a beautiful Mercedes Benz school bus against a well-lit city/mountain facade caught my eye. I ran into the street, took my shot and was heading onwards when a little man with a round head waving maniacally from inside the bus caught my eye. Snapping an imagined camera. Normally, I am wary of this type of frantic waving, especially when shooting someone who does not want to be photographed! Yikes, run. I have before. But this little man looked kind so I hopped aboard the giant Benz when he threw the door wide for me.

There is something about busses these days. I love busses (maybe such fondness comes from my time in the bush). AMAZING things can happen in a bus, trust me.

To my great delight, sitting inside the bus were two gentlemen. Paul and Jack. They were so curious about my analog camera, about my entire look which they thought was hysterical. "Where is your winter coat?", asked Jack. "She is from Winnipeg!", said Paul. Yes, I am. No need for a hat or gloves or Gortex yesterday, it was balmy as hell! I hung out with them inside Paul's bus for a good half hour, laughing my head off, peppering them with questions. Turns out they were dog fucking, waiting for their Granny Group to file out of the big Cathedral where they were currently being serenaded by an afternoon opera. Or something.

We talked shop, talked bus driving (they loved a story I had about driving a Crew bus for the first time in the bush, high as a kite and having to keep up with Birdman while bombing down logging roads), about Winnipeg (bless that town), about their little wives, life as a young anglo in Frenchtown. With that said, I have really been struggling with my lack of language here. No more tears are to be shed over not being able to communicate, it is time to take action and do something about it. French class! Anyway, they were so incredible kind to me as proud Quebecois themselves, encouraging me to learn while I am young or to simply be proud of the language I do speak.

We ended our bus hangout with some serious portraits inside the big Benz, one of Paul at the wheel (I ran out of film on my way there [dummy, always pack film] and was shooting over a roll I had already shot over, triple exposures are always sloppy, but I was desperate to take their picture). Who knows if Paul and Jack's BFF portrait in front of the huge bus turns out. I am praying it does. They were such amazing sports. At one point after I had lured them out of their spot in the bus, they were arranging themselves for another shot when I asked Jack to put his arm around his friend. Jack yelled out to me, his english french heavy, "Mon DIEU! We have worked together for thirty years and never touched before!". I asked them to hold hands. They refused. I forget what I all shot, lots of them laughing.

As I blew through film, laughing and charmed by my two surprising subjects, I thought of Aunty Marj and how she was able to orchestrate the craziest wedding party tableaus, organize huge group shots down to the most intimate baby portraits. She could make ten babies in a row laugh, never mind getting two old gentlemen to agree to holding hands in front of a bus. I am learning that I too have this ability to charm and relax people while shooting. It is in me, I learned it from watching her and my own photographer ma (I miss shooting weddings with you) put people together and make magic happen. Camera magic wand.

Paul gave me his business card when I asked where I could send their portraits to. "Here, send it to this address. Andrew will make sure we get it". You got it! Jack was embarrassed to tell me he didn't own a computer but I assured him I was more of a snail mail woman myself. This is why I shoot. Yesterday is why I shoot. Paul and Jack's kindness affirmed something in me that I had been questioning for a while: can I really do this? Most definitely.

Photos to come.

And to Lisa, Maude and Giles, it is only now (10:28 am) that I remembered our fourtop conversation last night. I was fast asleep, lost in dreamland, sighing and laughing along with you. Sleep came so quickly afterwards, your voices in my ears. Miss you all so dearly.

1 comment:

  1. "I am learning that I too have this ability to charm and relax people while shooting."

    This may be your greatest photographic skill, and the one I'm most jealous of.