Showing posts tagged Street Photography.
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faces of men project

Ask me anything   I’m a semi-pro (mostly amateur) digital photographer with no formal training and no pretentious philosophies. Just a passion for picking up the camera and roaming the landscape of urban spaces. These are the faces of intriguing men I've met along the way.
Chris - San Francisco (June 2008)

Chris was the first man I ever approached in San Francisco for my Faces of Men Project. I was walking around Fisherman’s Wharf snapping shots when I discovered him sitting on a bench all by his lonesome. Curious, I sat down beside him. A few moments of silence passed and although I was uncertain how to ask the question, I knew a portrait of this quiet, kind-faced man would be perfect for my project. I realized that the worst that could happen was he could say “no.”  With that in mind, I turned to him and asked if I could take his picture.  

"Sure, why not?" I was delighted by his response.

Chris told me he was from Portland and was on his way to Mexico. I didn’t ask him how he planned to get there because it was obvious he was hitching rides and jumping rail cars wherever possible. That day was unusually hot in the city. He told me the sun had zapped his energy and that’s why he was there resting on that bench.  He planned on leaving the city soon. 

To this day, whenever I find myself in Frisco with a little extra time to spare, I head down Fisherman’s Wharf in search of that bench where I took this portrait. It’s as if I have this odd unrealistic expectation that I’ll find Chris there where I left him. It’s a place I go back to again and again. 

I wonder if he ever made it to Mexico.

Chris - San Francisco (June 2008)

Chris was the first man I ever approached in San Francisco for my Faces of Men Project. I was walking around Fisherman’s Wharf snapping shots when I discovered him sitting on a bench all by his lonesome. Curious, I sat down beside him. A few moments of silence passed and although I was uncertain how to ask the question, I knew a portrait of this quiet, kind-faced man would be perfect for my project. I realized that the worst that could happen was he could say “no.” With that in mind, I turned to him and asked if I could take his picture.

"Sure, why not?" I was delighted by his response.

Chris told me he was from Portland and was on his way to Mexico. I didn’t ask him how he planned to get there because it was obvious he was hitching rides and jumping rail cars wherever possible. That day was unusually hot in the city. He told me the sun had zapped his energy and that’s why he was there resting on that bench. He planned on leaving the city soon.

To this day, whenever I find myself in Frisco with a little extra time to spare, I head down Fisherman’s Wharf in search of that bench where I took this portrait. It’s as if I have this odd unrealistic expectation that I’ll find Chris there where I left him. It’s a place I go back to again and again.

I wonder if he ever made it to Mexico.

— 1 year ago with 3 notes
#San Francisco  #Street Photography  #Portrait  #Photography  #Drifter  #Man 
Habtu - Columbus, OH (May 2008)
A few years ago I took a street photography trip to Columbus. As I was walking around downtown snapping shots with my camera I got a bit turned around. Fortunately, Habtu, a doorman at a swanky hotel, was kind enough to give me directions and pose for a quick portrait. 

Habtu - Columbus, OH (May 2008)

A few years ago I took a street photography trip to Columbus. As I was walking around downtown snapping shots with my camera I got a bit turned around. Fortunately, Habtu, a doorman at a swanky hotel, was kind enough to give me directions and pose for a quick portrait. 

— 1 year ago
#columbus  #street photography  #portrait  #face 

Joseph - San Francisco (June 2008)

It was the last day of my San Francisco trip and I had been hitting the pavement all afternoon taking pictures. I was exhausted, my feet hurt, and my face was sun burnt. I was about to call it a day and head back to the hotel. That is, until I spotted Joseph on Market Street.

He had one of those exotic faces that would be burned into my mind forever, and I knew that if I didn’t stop and ask for his portrait it would be an opportunity I would regret for a lifetime.

I offered him $10 for a few moments of his time, and at first he seemed a little embarrassed by the attention. Because of his intense facial features I imagined that Joseph was a popular muse for San Francisco photographers. I asked him if anyone had ever stopped him on the street for a picture before; he told me that “as a matter of fact” he was out with his “baby mama” just the week before and was stopped by a guy working on a photo book. He was paid $10 then, too. With a face like that I think Joseph had better get used to attention from shutterbugs.

— 1 year ago with 5 notes
#San Francisco  #Street Photography  #Portrait 
Unknown - San Francisco 2008
Unfortunately I don’t recall his name, but I do remember taking a stroll around Fisherman’s Wharf and snapping shots of the street performers. Before I knew it, or could object, he and his buddy charmingly conned me into a shoe shine. Of course I gave him a tip and asked him for a snapshot. He gave me a great smile. And that’s San Francisco for you.

Unknown - San Francisco 2008

Unfortunately I don’t recall his name, but I do remember taking a stroll around Fisherman’s Wharf and snapping shots of the street performers. Before I knew it, or could object, he and his buddy charmingly conned me into a shoe shine. Of course I gave him a tip and asked him for a snapshot. He gave me a great smile. And that’s San Francisco for you.

— 1 year ago
#San Francisco  #Fisherman's Wharf  #California  #Street Photography  #Portrait 

Brown - Chicago (August 2008)

copyright: Aaron Douglas

I didn’t get spend much time with Brown that day, maybe five or ten minutes at the most, but it was interesting what I learned about his life in that brief encounter. His story is typical, but nonetheless compelling. I happened upon him as I was walking by the United Center (home of the Chicago Bulls), he was talking to a couple of Japanese college students. They were visiting the U.S. on break and were looking to snap a shot of Michael Jordan’s jersey. Unfortunately, the display had been moved and was no longer visible from the street level.

Brown emitted such a friendly persona that I felt comfortable jumping in on the conversation. As it turns out, Brown, a war veteran (I’m guessing Vietnam), used to work at the United Center. He was one of the guys who layed out the basketball court on game days. He told me it was killer on the shoulder. And like so many war veteran’s he’s now unemployed and carries a bottle of Crown Royal in his back pocket. As I was about to ask my next question, a bus came along and Brown rode right out of my life.

— 2 years ago with 3 notes
#portrait  #chicago  #street photography  #chicago bulls  #michael jordan 

San Francisco (June 2008)

copyright: Aaron Douglas

I met Richard in San Francisco a few years ago. This particular day I chose to stake out the Powell Street BART station to people watch with my camera. This is the busiest public transit station in the city, so I was bound to encounter some interesting people.

I must have spent about 10 minutes watching Richard wander among the crowd of eclectic city dwellers and mesmerized tourists. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but there was something powerfully captivating about him. Perhaps it was his unique vagabond couture, or the distinguishing hint of gray hairs that peered out from under his bandana. He moved with such an unassuming presence and I was inspired to get closer.

When I approached Richard to ask for permission to photograph him, he studied me for a moment, and with neither a smile nor a look of disapproval he said “sure.” He told me his name and that he was from L.A.  He told me how he preferred the milder climate of San Francisco over his home town.  And those were the only pieces of his life he was willing to share. It was unclear whether he planned on staying in the city, or he was just passing through. And I got the sense that Richard was uncertain about his journey too.  So, I spent a few moments snapping pictures as he remained silent, staring past me into the droves of swirling people. My other questions were met with nothing more than a slight nod of his head. I think he was as unsure of me as I was of him.

For me, these images depict the vulnerability I experienced with Richard that day. When I look at them I’m reminded of the responsibility that comes with holding a camera in my hands. It’s the responsibility of treating my subjects with the sensitivity of compassion.

— 2 years ago with 1 note
#Street Photography  #San Francisco 

Cleveland, OH (September 2008)

copyright: Aaron Douglas

As you know by now, I just love having people in front of my lens. When a complete stranger allows me to snap a picture of him a rush of adrenaline shoots through my body, and I am overcome with a euphoric sensation. That’s how I felt when Charles, a Cleveland public transit operator, allowed me to take this picture of him. I was taking a walk on a Sunday afternoon when I spotted him sitting at a bus stop. His bus route was on layover and he was on his break. The time of day was right, the sun was hitting his face just so, and he was a willing subject. It couldn’t have been a more perfect scenario.  What captivated me about him was the certain sensitivity I detected in his eyes.

These portraits were taken in 2008. Interestingly, I spotted Charles just recently on the train where he is still an RTA operator. I regret that I didn’t say hi.

— 2 years ago with 2 notes
#Cleveland  #Ohio  #Public Transportation  #Charles  #Portrait  #Street Photography 

Oakland, CA (August 2008)

copyright: Aaron Douglas

My encounter with Menhuam seemed to be one of happenstance. Not to say that all of the men who have been so generous to stop and pose for one of my street portraits hasn’t left a unique impression in their own right. It’s just that I discovered an incredible wealth of wisdom to be gleaned from Menhuam, and I left this interaction with the sense that I gained a friend, perhaps even a brother.

I was walking down Broadway in downtown Oakland (California) when Menhuam seemed to pop up out of nowhere. He was carrying a large canvas bag full of books and he asked me if I would like to hear about the book he had written and self-published, I Can Do Anything I Put My Mind to Black People: A Manual for Renewal.

As an artist, there’s something to be said about those of us who take a grass roots approach to spread the word about our work. Of course, this gave me cause to want to stop and learn a little more about this intriguingly striking man with the innocent freckles and curly salt-and-pepper hair. Throughout the course of our 45-minute conversation I learned quite a bit about Menhuam’s thoughts on the correlation between the distribution of wealth in America and the current state of the African American community.

Not only did I learn his ideals and opinions on black culture, but I also found out some interesting things about his life. Menhuam is 31 years old and is bi-racial.  His biological mother was white and his biological father was black. However, when he was four years old he was adopted into a family where the mother was black and the father was white. I found it interesting that a white father-figure could raise such a strong black-identified man. 

When he’s not writing books or making waves as a leader in his community, Menhuam makes a living as a certified Journeyman carpenter and is also a student of environmental architecture. He resides in his native city of Oakland with his wife and their three children.

He told me his first name is pronounced “men-who-aim.” …fitting, isn’t it?

— 2 years ago
#oakland  #street photography  #california  #portrait 

Cleveland, OH (August 2008)

copyright: Aaron Douglas

Like many, I tend to be fascinatingly attracted to the “bad boy”. He’s the type of guy with the hot temper who looks like he could take a hit. And when it comes to having these guys in front of my camera this attraction couldn’t be any stronger.

I met Indian at a bus stop on West 25th Street and Clark in the heart of Cleveland’s Latino neighborhood. I studied him precariously as he bumped fists and exchanged head nods with all the dudes that walked by. It was obvious that he was a well-known fixture with a reputation in his community. His hyper-masculine stance intimidated me, but I eventually worked up the nerve to ask him for a picture.

Clearly I was a misfit in this neighborhood and he told me he didn’t want any of his buddies to see him posing for a picture. So he led me to a condemned, boarded-up house behind a porn shop. I followed him with apprehension but was too intrigued by the thrill of capturing his portrait to have second thoughts about my surroundings. We squeezed through a hole in the  wooden fence surrounding the property and shot away!

He told me he got the scratches and bruises from a fight, and he worked in a bar. And that was all I got to learn about Indian on my street photography adventure that day.


— 2 years ago with 1 note
#cleveland  #Street Photography  #Portrait