Every photowalk I go on begins like a disaster. I don’t care how prepared I am or think I am. At first, I’m shit, everything’s shit. Today was no exception.
I had a photowalk in the very urban Houston Downtown. First thing, here’s one of my better photos for the night. I learned a trick with my camera to make the train disappear leaving only the lights. I entered it into a contest, but I did not win. Shit. Anyway, this walk requires parking in a specific parking lot and riding the rail train to reach our destination. No problem. I’ve done this many times before. I lived Downtown for 4 years and have worked all my adult life in Downtown. You might say that I have the wherewithal for this journey. So, I go right to said parking lot and park. Amazing. I know it’s $4.00. Dig in my bag …. $4.00 parking, $1.25 train. I get out all my shit and bop over to pay the parking. I notice a guy sitting in the car next to me doing something to his phone. He’s intent. I go to put my $4.00 in and completely lose my mind. I do that a lot I’m finding. The machine asks for “Stall Number.” Hmmmm, I begin looking all over the machine for the “Stall Number.” Oh, there it is on the machine, “F2060.” I enter it in and I see that it has only acknowledged “60.” Hmm, okay. I grab my ticket and walk back to the truck. Get in to place my “60” ticket on my dashboard and *boing,* I realize all at once that “Stall Number” is the parking space number and I’m in “57” …. not “60!” Dumb ass, dork bitch. All checked in and ready to play! Sigh. So I seriously think to just stay put right here in “57” even though I have a “60” ticket. But ever being the straight and narrow, (i.e. never breaking rules), I proceed to move my truck …. back one and over two. Geeez, and the parking lot is virtually empty. It’s not like I’m in someone’s space and who the hell cares anyway in an empty freaking parking lot?! Anyway, I have fixed it in my typically anal fashion. I now grab my shit yet again and start to get out ……. where’s my tripod? I know I had my tripod. I begin frantically searching the truck. Where’s the fucking tripod? WHERE’S MY TRIPOD?! Oh, *DING,* it’s over there at the pay station. Remember, you dropped it on the ground and made a “mental note” not to leave it laying there? Remember? Right. I feel a sense of urgency as I walk over there. What if it’s not there? What if I can’t find it? The whole night of shooting without a tripod yawns before me. What’ll I do? As I walk, I peek around a car and there it is, laying on the ground right where I lost it. Whew!
I gather up my tripod and as I walk by the car with the “telephone guy” in it, he jumps out and says, “Oh, parking is free tonight. There’s a wedding in yonder church and they don’t charge if there’s a wedding. You can look like you are going to the wedding, right? Ha!” Shit, I come to a complete stop and promptly drop my tripod and stand staring at him nonplussed. He has seen none of my song and dance around him and his car. Now, I gather up my tripod once again and reply, “Well, at least I can look like I’m a photographer for the fucking wedding!” Yes, I said it just that way …. as I kissed my $4.00 goodbye. And to think, I almost lost my tripod too.
I now make my way over to the train station. I like riding the train. It feels so …. so New York! I search for my 5 quarters and begin to place them in the ticket machine. As I’m doing this, the train pulls up. The driver of the train is lined up perfectly behind me. He can see me getting my ticket. I’m putting in 1 quarter, 2 quarters …. I’m thinking surely he will wait just a couple of seconds for me to get my ticket. Surely …. he can see me! I feel his eyes on my back. 3 quarters, 4 quarters, 5 quarters. I almost have it! And the 5th quarter falls …. straight through, rejected and the train pulls away…. YOU FUCKING ASS HAT!! I pluck out the 5th quarter and place it in the machine yet again, and I forlornly stand on the platform clutching my ticket in my hand staring after the train as it slowly pulls away. Can’t you just picture it? I turn to look the other way …. no sign of the next train. Guess I’ll sit down and save my strength. Dejectedly, I do just that. Sigh….
Now, as I’m sitting there waiting on the train, there in front of me just across the tracks is a lovely wrought-iron bench. There are 2 people sitting there. The bench is not facing me so I am free to stare at their backs. One person is a very big bald black man (the 3 B’s). His companion is a very large (and I mean large) woman, with a lot of makeup on and wearing a strapless floral dress. Oh dear, and did I say large? The lady looks as if she took a lot of time to make herself look pretty for this man. They are arguing. She is upset. He looks bored. They are arguing and she begins to cry saying something along the lines of, “You stold all my money, you took my car and you broke my heart!” He yawns and stretches and says, “Ya, and that was just on Sunday!” (kidding) They argue some more, she’s upset, and as I’m getting up to board the next train, I hear him say something about “Gwyneth Paltrow” and I am thoroughly convinced that the man has come off with a clever “fat joke.” Oh please, let me get on this damn train! I guess you just can’t polish a turd …. him being the turd!
And that’s how I got to my photowalk!
*Gwyneth Paltrow – Shallow Hal*
Now I’m at my photowalk! I go to check in (they’re big on that) and find a spot where I can wrestle with my tripod. I frickin’ hate tripods. Did I already say that? Well, I do. So firstly, without knowing it, while I’m keeping my eye on yonder sunset (really want to get that), I pull out the attachment for the wrong tripod and try everything I can think of to put it on the WRONG tripod. Oh, maybe I have the wrong attachment! You think? Oh dear, I’m losing the sun. Search franctically for the other attachment, find it, another wrestling match ensues. Looking around, I’m the ONLY ONE that’s not taking photos of that BEAUTIFUL SUNSET! Some guy sees my struggle and comes to help me and he can’t figure it out. Tanks anyway. And I struggle, pull and there it’s on. No, I guess not. My camera just fell …….. into my hand. Damn lucky my hand was there! I feel suddenly weak in the knees, feeling faint. I ALMOST DROPPED MY CAMERA ON THE CEMENT FLOOR! I need to sit down and I will sit down after I get this damn tripod attached to my camera!! As I feel sweat dripping down my back and ass crack, I finally get it! It’s there and it’s on tight! I give it several mighty pulls, flip it upside down. Damn, it’s really on there! I race over to the edge to try to catch that sunset and “click!” I get one …. 1 …. uno …. photo and *blink* the sun is gone. And as I suppose you know, that photo SUCKED! And there it is over there. I had to tweak the hell out of it …. my sole photo of the sunset.
And now I promptly proceeded to fuck up EVERY picture I took for the rest of the night!
What made this night totally worth it was the weather. During the early part of the evening, it was hot, humid, just yuk with an overcast sky. The sky looked like it was sitting on top of the Downtown skyscrapers. Sort of a Stephen King night like “The Dome” was sitting over us. It was just as stuffy as you would think if you had a dome sitting over the city. Then as we were photowalking along and in my process of never taking a decent photo, this cool rush of air comes over us. You could literally feel it pushing the humidity away and the temperature was dropping. Awww, nice. Then came the wind, but who cares? It was lovely!
A lot of street people approach us and want to pose for us. There’s money involved, of course, and the whole group thinks I’ve lost my mind when I keep telling this rundown, dirty little man to “give it to us!” “Let’s have a really smoldering, sexy look.” “Ya, good, just like that!” The group leader looks at me and then tips the old fella and the man wanders away. Hey, it will never be said that I don’t know how to spice things up …. even if I’m totally bonkers! And there’s the ghost of a street guy over there. Why, oh why, can’t I take at least 1 decent night photo?
It’s at this point that we decide to stop for pizza and drinks and I see that when we are seated, that I’m the only one sitting by myself. Hmmmm, is it something I said? Something I did? One guy does come and sits at my table but when I get up to go get my coke, he has moved to another spot. Hmmmm. Anyway, I order my pizza, drink a couple of cokes, talk to some strangers sitting across from me and I see that my photo group are beginning to leave. So ok, I proceed to put everything up …. breaking down my equipment and stuff. And there I am once again wrestling with my tripod, only this time, I’m trying to attach it to my backpack. I struggle, I pull, I adjust straps, I curse …. and I look up …. and I’m all alone once again. All the photo group is gone, the 2 strangers have left and I’m standing there blinking once again. Can’t you just picture it?
So finally, I’m on my way home walking alone Downtown at night (Poor Pitiful Pearl) about 8 blocks all the while crossing the street this way and that to avoid all manner of spooky people. Of course, I find a Halloween Display! On toward my truck and things are as they should be I suppose. You know, I was so tired when I got home that I ate ice cream. OH MY GAWD!!!! It’s scary good!