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October 12th, 2009

Picture Trade

We were looking for a bowling alley, I really needed to knock something down, I needed that joy. On the way, the technology passed us by a carnival but I kept driving, I wanted that alley. We got to the address but the alley was not there. I turned us around and drove back past the carnival. As I approached an intersection to the left was a tree making a shadow on the side of a gas station and on the right, away from the carnival sitting alone on the curb backlit in the low yellow sunlight, was a clown. It was a moment, a moment one could be blind and make this photograph moment.

The streetlight changed and we kept driving, stopping only when we hit the lanes and then we bowled. We bowled the best we could and then we went after our cameras, drove back to the carnival racing the setting sunlight and hunted that clown.

We arrived and went our own ways in the blinking lights and setting sun. I didn’t want the clown, I didn’t want the strangers; my mind was on my photographic task that brought me here now only hours away and I craved its start.

I sat on a bench, my big camera in my hands, my little cameras spread on the bench around me and I stared at my feet as the couples and children raced around. Then I saw him.

He approached me shy and slow with his hand outreached, in this hand was a silver snapper with the manufactures advertising stickers still all over it. He didn’t speak English well but I knew instantly what he wanted. He wanted me to take his photograph and I accepted without a word. I made two frames with his snapper as they stood together not knowing quite what to do. I handed the camera back to him and he smiled, he smiled big. As he turned to share the images with her, he looked back at me one more time and smiled with a nod of gratitude.

When I saw this I pointed at my camera and at them and said, “My turn?” His smiled dropped away and he placed his camera on the bench and then went to her and took her bag so it too would not be in my image, he knew this was now a different story. Having placed their items on the bench he stood next to her and awaited my words. I didn’t give him any, I just made a motion of an embrace… then they did.

I raised my camera and took one frame and then whispered, “Thank you, don’t forget your items on the bench.” I then turned and walked away… The dark was coming.

Rogers, Arkansas | October 10, 2009 | 04:43:41 PM & 05:03:50 PM