I have been intrigued by a particular row of shotgun houses ever since I started working at The News-Star. I see them most days depending on what route I take to the office.
I am not sure if it was the color, the grouping or the activity that always seems to be in front of them that first caught my attention.
I finally stopped there today after months of debate. I met George, a very nice retired man that allowed me to speak with him a bit and eventually bring out a camera, much to the dismay of his neighbor who started yelling and then ran inside his house.
George dismissed him with a wave and a, “Pay him no mind.” Not wanting to wear out my welcome I just snapped a quick image, putting the emphasis on establishing a bond instead of becoming a paparazzi.
I tried to explain why the houses appealed to me, but I think I failed. I asked if he would mind if I returned to document the lives that inhabit the green houses. He seemed a bit thrown by the question but acquiesced.
I understand that is is a bit odd for people to randomly interject themselves into one’s life. The thing is, I am genuinely interested in listening to people’s stories… How can I explain this? The last thing I want to become is someone that is viewed to be using another individual’s life as just another shot for my portfolio.
George’s life is not hard news, yet I am intrigued by people that have lived in one city, one community, one house their whole life. Does art justify this process?
How can I explain this to someone? Especially not even knowing one thing about them before I walk up and introduce myself?
I guess it can also be said that you might never know unless you start somewhere.
Meeting George was a good start. I hope I can share this sentiment to him without sounding crazy.