Sunday, July 18, 2010

the curious case of the disappearing imaginary friend

a curious thing happened earlier this summer that still has me thinking about my relationship with my camera.  i love to plan trips.  so much so that sometimes the planning is more exciting to me than the actual trip.  i adore the research, the compiling, the sorting of locales, spots, eateries, the itinerary production and reproduction.  i read stories that are set in my intended destination so that i can put myself into the story once i arrive.  i clip magazine articles, photos, maps, brochures, menus.  people, i make a binder.  with tabs. 

being joined at the hip with the canon is relatively new to me.  san francisco was my first longer-than-a-weekend destination where i really planned out which experiences, scenes and images i wanted to capture.  this list, appropriately named, "things i want to photograph in san francisco", was nestled behind the second tab in the binder, only slightly less important than the flight schedules and information.  i figured i had time to immerse myself in tiny pieces of culture and click away, giving myself space and opportunity to get some really beautiful photos that held all the magic of those moments and allowed me to explore things that i'm curious about.  i thought that this is what really good travel photographers must do.  you have to have the time and you have to let yourself see and be in the moment, right?   this is quite different from the spontaneous method of photography that is my typical modus operandi.

the list included things like "line of kids waiting for ice cream cones outside of bi-rite", "a transvestite in full dress and makeup", "taco truck", and lots of other things that hold my interest in addition to "make touristy/landmarky shots creative and individual".  i wanted to return with my own visual story of san francisco.

although i returned with some lovely images (and many more lovely memories) of san francisco, i didn't get most of the shots on the list.  even though i stood in line at bi-rite and a taco truck and had a quick and fun conversation with a beautiful transvestite who would have been over-the-moon if asked for a portrait.  i didn't even take a plate shot at zuni.  i mean, how many food shots from everyday restaurants have you seen on this blog?  and then nothing when it comes to culinary perfection!  one early morning, i passed a person asleep on the sidewalk, covered head-to-toe in a cornflower blue sleeping bag.  a sweet puppy's face looked out from underneath the field of blue.  the moment took my breath away.  i stood awestruck at the tenderness and loyalty.  instead of a photo, i smiled and said a little wish for safety and better times ahead and walked away.

in the days that i've been home, i find myself looking at the list and wondering what happened.  i had the time and the equipment and san francisco gave me more than it's share of beauty, humanity, life and color to capture.  i think back to the reason i picked up the canon in the first place.  my life had become so dull to me and i wasn't seeing the beauty of it at all.  my camera taught me to see, really see, the absolute gorgeousness of everyday life.  it is my constant companion, like an imaginary friend.  this relationship was altered when i was in san francisco and i'm exploring the possible reasons behind the disconnect. 

it's still a mystery to me.