This story begins over a year ago. It was a cold wet winter's night on New Years Eve. I wandered the city with my Leica M3 documenting the comings and goings of the evening. Taking advantage of the free transit, I hopped on & off the street car in the NW district. It was a great way to stay warm and still be a part of the hustle and bustle of the city.
On this journey I made a friend. Her name is Marie.
My night started out with a stop into Ramshead for a celebration dinner. Celebrating a night out with my new camera, a Leica M3. An beautiful gift from a very special person. I treated myself to a delicious Portland burger before beginning my adventure on the town. Fully satisfied and energized, I stepped back out into the night and made my way to the streetcar somewhere on 23rd in the alphabet district.
It was a very cold evening.
As soon as I stepped onto the streetcar I began looking around curiously taking in my surrounds. I dialed in my exposure, still using an iphone light meter at that time and I saw my 1st photo. I caught the eyes of this eccentric looking older women across from me. My eyes must have said everything. Before I even had time to lift my camera she firmly commanded, "Don't you take my picture!" I was slightly shocked and felt quite transparent.
I was at a cross road.
I decided that I would take this as an invitation into a conversation instead of feeling defeated even before I began. I approached her and began to chat. Small talk... We exchanged names and through brief conversation we discovered we both came from Wisconsin and love to dance. This little commonalities shocked her. By this time she was rather warm and open with me, possibly even entertained by this encounter. She extended an invitation for me to go dancing with her! I think what she really meant was could she go dancing with me ;)
It was after this that she asked me this question, "Why did you want to take my picture?" I smiled inside... and asked, "Why didn't you want me to make your picture? I only choose the most special of people to photograph, especially since I am making pictures with film!" Her eyes lite up at that and she smiled. "And you wanted to photograph me... Why?" "Well because you are beautiful and I can see not only 1 but 2 of you!" She looked where I pointed and saw her reflection in the window.
I left Marie to ponder a bit and wandered around the street car. I met a couple from Seattle heading to the Portland Art Museum for a Inspire Truth 2016 masquerade ball.
After talking with them I headed back to see Marie knowing she could exit the car at any time. She started asking me all sorts of questions about my camera. "What's it called, when was it made, where is it from, where can I get one for myself and will you write that down for me?" It was quite funny. Of course I told her all that I knew about my new camera. Then I told her to call on Blue Moon Camera and Machine if she wanted to find a camera of her own, of course!
Then she asked, "Would you take a picture of me with that nice camera?" I was slightly surprised but you can guess my answer to that!
That warmed my heart! It was not just an opportunity but an honor to make her picture.
Looking back there were many choices I could have made that would not have brought me to that point. I could have given up the moment she very loudly rejected my nonverbal photo advances (definitely received through mental telepathy, lol). I decided at that moment she was not my target. I decided I would let the picture go and instead invest a bit of energy into getting to know her. She seemed interesting after-all. The photo was no longer the reason. She was.
This is only the beginning of the Marie Story.
A while later I was contacted by an artist arranging a gallery showing at the Hillman City Collaboratory in Seattle, WA. She was interested in a handful of my street portraits after scouring my social media collections. One of those images was the photo of Marie on the street car.
I printed and frame the image of Marie as a 16"x20" piece. It hung in Seattle at the gallery for over a month. During that time I wondered what Marie would think of her face hanging on a wall for people to ponder at. Part of me considered contacting her to tell her... but I didn't. I did have her information, somewhere... She wrote it down for me that night on the street car. I had intended on giving her a print of the photo. Life just got too busy. It was in the back of my mind, haunting me really. But where did I put her information? I couldn't locate it when I tried.
New Years Eve 2017 was fast approaching... almost a year had passed.
To Be Continues