Spitting out Mouthwash

Speaking of street photography…

When I first began doing “street photography” I used to take my camera to work with me each day (Canonet) – and it was a pretty long walk, about five miles. One day, I was about a half block behind this guy who was gargling with a small bottle of Scope (right hand).

It struck me that he would have to find a spot to spit it out, and with that in mind I ran up behind him, paused, and clicked just as he spit the mouthwash out in the sewer. No, not a beautiful thing to watch, but I did manage to get “the moment,” – first by being curious about him, and second by wondering what was going to happen next. It was the beginning for me of many years of trying to anticipate what people were going to do next.  And now – having divided the store front up into so many categories I am putting things like this which are important to me – in the store.  I’ll file this under, “people spitting.”  But even if you weren’t sure what was going on – I think the posture would draw you in at first.  And maybe you’d skip by it, but maybe you’d study it a bit, and eventually see the small bottle of scope in his right hand, and have one of those a-ha moments yourself.  At any rate – for better or worse – that’s the state of mind you get into when you photograph people on the street.  Sometimes it’s the usual stuff – mostly it’s the usual stuff – but once in a while it moves a bit beyond the usual.

I like to wonder about things like this.  Was he late for a big meeting.  Was he going to make a presentation.  Had he just had a drink and was trying to get rid of the smell.  And someone else might look at it, and flip by as fast as they can because the whole thing is sort of gritty.  How you get from that to beauty infrared shots of the park; that’s easy – I have a pretty esoteric range of things that interest me.

For example, I’m a confirmed atheist – but one of my favorite things to watch on Sunday morning are the t.v. preachers even though they have all assured me that there’s no way I can go to heaven because I haven’t accepted Jesus as my personal savior.  Which is true.  I’ve accepted photography as my personal savior.  I wonder where the good and bad photographers go after they die.  I have a feeling that they end up in one of Dante’s circles of hell – not near the center rings, but on the outside with the pagans who didn’t have a chance to accept the one-God deal since there wasn’t one God in their day.  Or maybe you go in the circle with the painters and poets.  I think that’s the place to be anyway.  Heaven, as far as I can figure has had to turn away some pretty interesting people.


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My name is Dave Beckerman. I am a fine art photographer working in New York City.

5 thoughts on “Spitting out Mouthwash”

  1. I’m not into the Sunday preachers, but I do watch reruns of “The Holy Rosary with Mother Angelica and the Nuns” (not a punk rock group)on EWTN. These are not live because Mother Angelica suffered several strokes nine years ago, but not too much has changed in the Rosary for hundreds of years. I don’t why I watch this, especially since I’m Jewish, but there is something very soothing about the repetition, much more calming than listening to Nancy Grace screaming about the latest murder on CNN. I also must confess that I find the close-ups of the young nuns in their habits very erotic. I mean in a spiritual way, of course.

  2. And one other comment about great nuns. One of my favorite TV shows of all time (not the “Flying Nun”)starred Sister Wendy Beckett, the British nun with a beaver-like overbite who did a superb documentary series about art on PBS. She is presently back living the comtemplative life in a monastery in England, but maybe if we start a letter-writing campaign, we can get her to come back again and do a show about the art of photography. For those of you who’ve never seen sister Wendy, check out some clips of her on YouTube.

  3. Lester, Dave:

    I’m all for the letter writing campaign to bring back sister Wendy! What’s the address?

  4. Lovely image Dave. If it wasn’t for the contemporary graffiti on the shop grill behind him that has a real 50’s look about it.

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