The people I take photos of on the street must wonder who on earth I am sometimes, pointing a camera at them. Nobody ever asks though. I wonder about them too. Where they are going, what they are thinking, how they are feeling, it seems clear at times from their facial expression, the tilt of their head, the way they walk and interact with the environment but I never truly know. I freeze a moment of them but in that moment I remember the whole sequence that made me lift my lens in the first place to snap a piece of their life into permanence and there is a kind of love for the human world in that seeing. I offer a smile and perhaps some significance in return for the image I take and the transaction is made.
You can know, I believe, some truth of a person’s inner state at any moment in time, simply through observing the detail of their essential behaviour. That’s something I trained in for many years through acting but it’s a basic human ability in everyone to sum up fairly accurately what we see in others. It’s not guessing, it’s deduction, communication. The clues are there to read. These people don’t realise just how much of them I see in the moments they notice and discard my presence. They stay with me in the years afterwards, my street people, my images of their moments, moments when they were ugly or beautiful, moments where they stood out from those around them. I remember their faces, their style, their setting and their attitude long after I am gone from their conscious memories. So as I take a piece of their life to keep, so too I have given them claim over part of mine. Only they never know it. They move along through life, party to and yet oblivious of the pact made in the instant the shutter opens.