Paris Hawken - Travel Diary
I am a morning person, and my American travelling partner was not. We had a good understanding of each other though – I would be up early, head out and entertain myself for a while and then arrive back for Sarah to start her day at noon. One of these mornings, I headed out early for a walk in a local park in Savannah, the Deep South with just my film camera. I'm a pretty shy person normally, and I am definitely more introverted than extroverted. This morning I challenged myself to go up and talk to strangers, and ask to take their portraits. To me, taking someone's portrait is one of the most intimate things you can do. It's like trying to get a vision of who this person is when you don't even know them, in about two minutes. So I walked around this park and got all these photos of people. Groups of guys with boom boxes on their shoulders drinking at 11 am, a little boy, and an elderly man named Charlie in a red suit sitting on a bench with his red bike next to him. He asked me to sit with him for a while before I took his photo, and he asked why I would bother talking to someone like him. He said people like me don't talk to people like him around those parts. He said why wasn't I on a tour bus learning about the city that way with everyone else, and I said because I would prefer to learn from him. He told me about his life, and it was a sad one. I knew that I had taken the most beautiful portraits of him and I couldn't wait to go and tell Sarah and get them developed. He said he would be there at the same time the next day so that I could take Sarah back to meet and write about him. I took the film to a local lab that afternoon to get developed. It turns out that I never actually loaded that roll of film correctly into my camera, and so when I was firing off all my precious shots, I wasn't actually taking a photo at all. I was pretty devastated, to say the least, but I knew that I would see Charlie again tomorrow with Sarah so I could get more shots. Charlie never showed up the next day. He had given me his number too, so I called it, but he never answered. I could be pretty upset about that day, but I just think there's something so ironic in the fact that all those little moments I captured because I got brave, will only ever exist in my memory. There's something pretty special about that.