Seeing Things, Saying Things

Musings About Writing, Photography and Teaching

Archive for the ‘people’ Category

Waiting for Godot? No, Waiting for a Bus

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Waiting for Godot is a play that you might expect literature or drama majors on a college campus to be familiar with.

The Samuel Beckett play is about two characters waiting for someone named Godot who never shows up. Unlike the characters of Vladimir and Estragon, though, these two students at Indiana University are waiting for something more mundane.

They are waiting for a bus to come on East Seventh Street in Bloomington. They are reposing along the stone wall that borders Dunn Meadow, a popular campus gathering spot.

Unlike the characters in the play, the bus is likely to show up — eventually.

Yeah, It’s Big All Right

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This pint-sized visitor to the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum in Tucson is trying her hand at operating a diesel locomotive.

Union Pacific Railroad donated to the museum this locomotive control stand. Of course such things were designed to be operated by adults. But regardless of your age, you can only pretend to be in control of a train going down the tracks.

In the top photograph this little engineer in training has her left hand on the throttle and her right hand on the knob that controls the front headlights. In the bottom photograph, she has both hands on the throttle. All Aboard!

The Girls on the Train

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I was making photographs of a Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad train at the Akron station. A couple of women aboard the train noticed me and began waving. So I caught their reaction. I don’t know who they are, but it was one of those spontaneous moments in which you need to be ready to react if you’re going to capture the moment.

After getting a couple images, I gave them a thumbs up and they gave me the same gesture in return. The train them departed and the two women would enjoy a brunch in a dining car as they train passed through the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Nice Day to Go for a Hike

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It was a sunny Sunday morning and I was standing along Riverview Road in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

Along came a group of what I believe were ROTC cadets from Kent State University. They were going for a hike along the shoulder of the road, but jogging is a better description for this exercise in getting exercise.

Despite the snow on the ground, it was not overly cold, which you can probably tell by the fact that the women in the group were wearing tee shirts with their fatigues.

Some Play the Piano, Some the Violin. All Wanted to be Paid.

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It’s Memorial Day weekend in Seattle in 2014. I’m staying over during a train trip that would see me cross the United States on Amtrak and across Canada on VIA Rail Canada.

I had most of the day to enjoy Seattle and set out for Pike Place Market. With so many people in town for the weekend, it was no surprise that the street musicians were out trying to hustle a buck.

That these musicians are in it for the money is without a doubt. Jonny the piano player has a sign asking photographers to give him a tip and a large blue jar perched atop his piano.

The violinists have a large plastic jug with an enlarged reproduction of a dollar bill affixed to it. There is nothing subtle about what these guys want.

Jonny has more in mind other than entertaining passersby and making a few dollars. He also wants to educate you about the dangers of genetic engineering.

As for the violinists, they just want to play and get paid. They have no political agendas to promote.

The violinists are young, perhaps college students trying to make some extra money. Jonny, though, looks like an aging hippie trying to change the world.

I’ve often wondered what the stories are behind street musicians. Why are they performing on the street rather than on a stage for customers who bought a ticket to get in.

Their stories probably vary. Some might be sad, some might be tragic, some might be pragmatic. All of them must have interesting stories to tell about playing on the street.

Whatever the case, street musicians and entertainers are part of the fabric of city streets in America and represent a purer form of capitalism than that practiced by the giant corporations that own the buildings surrounding those musicians.

Jumping, Sitting and Reflecting at Millennium Park in Chicago

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Some jump so they can see their reflection . . .


. . . while others jump to be photographed. Look above the head of the far right jumper and you’ll see a reflection of the woman in the foreground capturing the trio of jumpers on a smart phone.

As for the guys, well you find them recording themselves goofing off.

As for the guys, well you find them recording themselves goofing off.

Sitting and "holding up" the sculpture.

Sitting and “holding up” the sculpture.


Standing and “holding up” Cloudgate.

Millennium Park in Chicago is a great place to hang out if you like to photograph people.

If you stand around at the Cloudgate sculpture — which many like to call “the bean” due its shape — you’ll be treated to a daily ritual of people jumping by or near the statute.

Because Cloudgate produces a mirror image with its polished metal surface, it can be intriguing to watch how people interact with it. Everyone wants to see their image reflected in the sculpture’s shiny surface.

Some folks like to watch their reflection as they zoom skyward. Others will pose for a photograph made by a friend or stranger as they ham it up for the camera.

For some reason many of the jumpers are young women and you usually don’t have to wait long before one or a group of them will jump for joy in front of one of Chicago’s most popular tourist attractions.

But most of all, people like to sit, stand or lie on the concrete surface to photograph or admire their reflection.

Here is selection of interactions that I’ve made over the years while visiting Cloudgate. None of these were planned. You just have to have your camera ready and strike when a moment occurs.

The People You See on the Streets of Chicago

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There’s a genre known as street photography and I’ve long admired those who know how to make it work.

I’ve done some dabbling in street photography, but it has always been a byproduct of being somewhere for another reason and merely taking advantage of an opportunity.

Some of those opportunities have come while walking around in downtown Chicago. I primarily am looking to photographs buildings and urban landscapes, but here and there I’ve made a street photograph.

Street photographers need a photojournalist’s mentality, meaning they have to do what some people might see as imposing on others.

Not wanting to come off as “imposing on others” has held me back from being a street photographer. All but one of the images that you see here was made with a telephoto lens to increase the possibility that the person I was photographing would not know what I was doing.

Street musicians are, perhaps, the easiest subjects to find when making street photographs. They always seem to be out playing on the streets no matter what time of the day it is if they expect a large crowd of people to be around.

Then there are the homeless and the panhandlers, who also are ubiquitous on city streets. Not all of the former are the latter or vice versa. I’m always wary of them knowing that I’m photographing them because they might not respond well to that.

The photograph of the police with a vehicle pulled over was something I just happened upon.

It struck me that the motorist must think it bad enough that he got pulled over by the cops, but by cops on bicycles? Yes, it happens. I snapped a couple images and kept on walking.

And that is the story behind all of these images. I saw a moment, got the image and kept on going toward my destination.