A Sweet Stranger Who Said “Yes”

By: pbcmedia

Aug 19 2009

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Category: Aging, Creativity, People, Personal, Photography, THE SERIES, Working


Focal Length:50mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:Canon EOS 5D

As I begin this process of learning to photograph people, may my days ahead be graced with more sweet folks like this young man.

He is the first person I’ve ever asked permission to photograph.  Underneath his big yellow bill of his Boston Celtics hat, his eyes rounded and he said, “OK” and then just went about his business of drying my car, only once peeking in to see what this ol’girl was up to.

I posted previously some other “people” shots from this car wash, a train station and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston:





But, this one includes his direct gaze, so I post it–the fourth in my series, “Working”.  (How many photographs can one post of people from behind them or headless?  We are about to find out.)

I’d like to take photographs of folks who are working behind the scenes who are usually invisible to us.  Those people we see only through a drive-thru window or blurry windshields or, as in the case of my most recent post at Waving and Drowning, my illustrated  photo blog for caregivers, senior citizens who struggle to lift their arms to greet the day.

I invite Brian, a wonderful writer from The Cheek of God, who has just been laid off for the third time this year, to write a story about this sweet stranger in the car wash who said, “Yes” and then sell it to Hollywood for big bucks so he can never worry again about his family’s future AND finally get paid for what he loves to do.

So, a little bit of everything here.

A photo with a human in it.

Some career counseling and some links to the wider world, mine and others.

And, the day has just begun.


©Pat Coakley 2009


This is also “post” day for my competitive, talented flyboy colleague in learning to photograph people, Photos4u2c.  Details of this can be seen here.  Dave, calm down.  Have fun.  It’s just me not Henri Cartier Bresson.

16 comments on “A Sweet Stranger Who Said “Yes””

  1. What a great photograph. I love the water/window appearance.

    • Thanks, wildstorm…love your name, btw. And, thanks for your comment on Singular Sensation as well. I just went to your site (it was not included in your comment on the other blog) and loved your Gratitude photo and quotes. I’ll be back to visit.

  2. it is really gorgeous. how does a photo exist in a painterly and sculptural and journalistic and literary and historic and practical significant space?
    Fine Art, that’s how.

    • Tipota, I’m making a card of this for the young man and going to drop it off at the car wash. If Don, below, is right, I think they may be thinking of me as “kinky”! What the hell…sorta fun to think of me that way! Time for a change! Just kidding. I’m going to designate a pocket on my photo vest (when I get one), the “tipota” pocket so you can go with me on my wanderings!!

  3. I like this. He’s looking right at you, no malice or anything, just looking. And you are looking back. Love the framing, painterly background, yet clarity of his face.

    I just hope you don’t spend so much time hanging around the car wash that they begin to think you’re a little “kinky”.

    • Don, I just told tipota that I’m making a card of this photo for the young man and bringing it to the car wash later this week. The thought of them thinking of me as “kinky” didn’t even occur to me! Good God!

  4. Thank Pat for the invitation. The photo is gorgeous. I imagine his mind reeling with all sorts of thoughts that seldom see the light of expression. Things deeper than wondering what he’ll have on his lunch break. Or was this perhaps one of those fundraising events, where a group of teens stand on street corners holding hand-lettered signs above their heads and yell out for your patronage? If so, what is it that he hopes to do one day that at the moment of this photograph seems like a thousand years away?

    I need a challenge of this sort right about now, and leave it to Pappy to step to the plate . . .

  5. O, goodie, Brian! Your thoughts already show the beginnings of the arc of the story. Go for it, my friend. This was a regular car wash but the scenario of teens raising money is a good one, as well. Also, Don’s comment above suggests that he might think me “kinky”! If you want to take the story in ANOTHER direction…but, in that case, you can’t use the photo on your book cover or the DVD!

  6. I love the questioning look that some people give when they look straight down a lens. It’s almost as though they are trying to read the viewer. I think that too often, many people shots seem to treat the subject as a thing and there is no engagement. When the subject looks down the lens, there’s no doubt about their engagement with the viewer.

  7. Professor Buffnik! I was trying to explain to myself why his look appealed to me. Your take explains it. And, if I had not asked his permission, I don’t think the look would have been as engaged, so you? More surprise or irritation or something other than what it was. Treating the subject as a thing…well put. I truly am going to try and avoid that and i think that is why taking photos of people without their permission has always been a problem for me.

  8. I like the framing of this picture, and the fella’s gaze also is very penetrating somehow, very nice feel to the image.

    • So innocent looking. Like how a baby looks at you without any screening of thought. You could be dressed up like a hyena and they’d just look and go, “Mmm…what’s dat?”

  9. Wow, nice Wednesday people photo. Your Photoshop skills are crushing me. Don’t worry, I’ll bounce back in a couple of days. Don’t let yourself get lulled into a false sense of security.

    • Ok! Let me see….who is the one who gives Photoshop Tutorials?

      Ah, that would be you!

      But, Bravado Dave is baack in the house and so conjugate our differences however you want! ! I don’t underestimate your talents one bit. I enjoy them and always enjoy looking at pxs of San Francisco! So, you were a slam dunk with me before releasing the shutter!

  10. […] series, I had one image of two humans from behind them, and  two images of car wash attendants, One and Two with permission, and one without, seen through suds and […]

  11. […] it out of my head and into the laptop. This section is inspired by my blogging buddy Pat who issued this challenge a while back. After a couple months of, well, procrastination, I finally found a place to take her […]

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