Thursday, April 17, 2008

Cindy and Steve

So John decided that he wasn't going to burn his house this week, which meant that we had to go find some other awesome people in order to have something to turn in for my cultural sensitivity project. So, Tracie (in her usual incredible self) took me back to Watts on another feature hunting excursion where we met Cindy and Steve.

They live in a field with a lot of trash and trailers sitting on it. It's quite a ways from the road, but Cindy waved at us anyway, as she does to every vehicle that passes. So, we drove up to meet them.

It went something like this. Tracie gets out, calls the man over and says:

"Hey. Is this Watts? Do you live here? We're photographers, and we're doing a story about the area, trying to find some cool/interesting people that live around here. We heard that you were the best people to talk to, so here we are."

And somehow, it worked.

Of course, they were a little skeptical. They apparently couldn't shake the feeling that we were cops. When they asked for credentials, Tracie replied, "Credentials for what? Being nobody?"


Cindy is a sweet older woman in her 50s who just likes being able to sit, smoke and drink beer on her porch made of particle board and plywood. And that's about all they do. She's had six children; four of them are living, but not with her. Her husband is in a retirement home, and she lives with her best friend Steve, but they're just friends. She promises.

She collects lots of random crap and puts it on the mantle that her television sits on. Everything, she says, came from overseas and is very old and expensive. She tells me this as she holds up a plastic horse that was part of a popular toy set when I was younger.

"This comes from North America, but they don't know how old it is," she says. I smile and nod.


Steve is in his late 30s, and graduated from Siloam Springs high school. Anything Cindy says, he contradicts. "This place fucking sucks," he tells me while Tracie and Cindy are inside the trailer. If he had it his way, he would open up a mechanic's shop because "95 percent of the time he can fix anything that doesn't run." He and Tracie later go on a beer run for some Natty Light because, of course, that is what Cindy and Steve do.


It can be fairly frustrating to shoot with Tracie because she always gets great stuff while I'm so on-again/off-again that I often have problems just making a correct exposure. But it's so good for me at the same time, because she helps me see what I could have done with the situation instead of what I did do. And ultimately, I really am enjoying it.

It's a process. Taking it a step at a time. Focusing on something I'm good at. Doing it. Then taking other things to improve on in steps. Clean backgrounds. Lighting. Composition. It will get better.

1 comment:

Marley McAfee said...

don't be so hard on yourself. i think these photos are great.

it's great that you can get outside of yourself enough to get out in the world and meet real people with real stories. it's not ignorance that blinds most people. it's simple fear.

i applaud you.