This Thanksgiving weekend I decided to do a little street photography and one of the most interesting places to do that in Bakersfield is downtown. There are a lot of locally owned stores in downtown, and you find a lot of different and interesting people who hang out there. Sadly, it also houses a lot of homeless people as well. Although sad, photographing some homeless people, showing their signs of struggle and also survival is a photographic portrayal of impact.
This particular weekend was meant to support small local businesses in the area. Since there are so many in downtown, it brought out a lot of people shopping locally. Especially at a lot of the thrift stores that sell second hand merchandise. These types of stores are usually very cost friendly to a consumer who doesn’t have a lot to spend, especially during the holidays with Christmas right around the corner.
As a street photographer, I will find many interesting people to subject for my photography. I look for people who can tell a story. When you can tell stories through images, those are the best because it gives people a visual understanding of why the photo was taken, and what the meaning was behind it. It could just be a simple photo of a family walking together going shopping. Just every day people doing every day things.
The day was a Saturday on 11/25/18. It was rainy, wet, and cloudy. It was not very cold, considering it was a rainy winter day. I knew just by the setting that it would be a good day for some interesting street photography. Luckily, for me, it didn’t disappoint. I got to talk to some really nice people and also met a couple of folks who stopped and posed for a photo. : ) The first start of my day came with the photo above. This woman, finding a way to stay warm, notices me as she walks by. Warm coffee in hand, not sure how she would react, she smiled and walked by and said “Hello, have a nice day” and I said “You too!”. She could have just given me a dirty look or just didn’t say anything at all. Obvious she didn’t mind being photographed and was quite cordial in the process. : )
This guy above was a lot of fun. I saw him with his funny festive headband and took a photo of him walking by. He stopped and smiled to pose for a photo when I recognized and commented on his interesting head attire. : )
While I walked around downtown Bakersfield, I decided to check out some of the local antique/thrift shops. They have quite a few of them in downtown. One in particular was inside the old Woolworths building and is called the Five and Dime Antique Mall. This place is HUGE. Upstairs, and downstairs filled with a lot of vintage second hand stuff. I could have spent a small fortune there if I had more time, and also more money. But that would be for another time and another day. However, while I was inside visiting this Mall, My husband and I ran into this older gentleman pictured above. We started talking to him and he shared with us stories about some of the stuff he was selling there and the history behind it.
He shared these two Geisha dolls with us. He talked about how old they were and how much they meant to him and his wife. He explained how tough it was to get rid of these two dolls and the other items he was parting with. But he mentioned that it was time to downsize. Due to their age, and the amount of stuff they had, he mentioned that it doesn’t go with you. Which he is right. It doesn’t. It just keeps building up throughout the years and he didn’t want to leave it all into the hands of his son whenever it is time for him and his wife to pass on. We ran into him again later when we were sitting outside for a rest. He stopped and smiled for a photo and talked to us some more. Such a sweet man. He was definitely the highlight of our day.
I wanted to get some photos of The Fox Theater before we ventured off to another thrift store. Walking by was a local public figure, politician and city councilman Andrae Gonzales. He stopped and smiled as soon as he noticed me. Then he shook my hand and my husbands hand. He asked me for my name and where he could find this picture. I said Instagram and he asked for my Instagram and sent me a follow. Nice, handsome guy with a great smile. : )
Our next stop during our antique shopping was a place called the Merry Go Round Antique Mall. It was right across the street from the Five and Dime Antique mall. Merry Go Round was not quite as large, but still had a lot of great stuff inside. Especially if you are a collector. All decked out in holiday décor, they featured for one day only, an opportunity to get pictures taken with Santa Claus. During a time when they weren’t being surrounded by kids, Santa and Mrs. Claus asked me if I would take a photo of the 2 of them together. How could I say no? : )
This man was standing in front of a business that was closed and greeting people as they passed by. He had some interesting reading material that he was handing out about how to cope with, and handle grief. He was a Jehovah’s Witness. He handed us one of his booklets on the subject of grief. Since I lost my dad I was interested in reading what it had to say even though I was not a Jehovah’s Witness myself. But I related to the grief subject he was discussing. Which he did with us briefly.
Street Photography also gives me an opportunity to capture the not so pleasant part of downtown Bakersfield. The homeless which is rampant around downtown. As sad as it is, it is impactful photography. It is reality and it showcases struggle and also survival. It is a reminder for us not to forget about these people and to help them when we can. It also can remind us to feel grateful for everything we have when these people have nothing and are grateful for everything they do have and get. I wish there were more places for these people so they have shelter to stay in without having to rely on the streets and enduring brutal weather in the summer and winter months. Especially during rainy days like this.
These photos show why I love street photography and why I continue to do it. I am strongly introverted and not real good with approaching people. This gives me an opportunity to by anonymous with my camera and also meet some interesting people like the ones I met this holiday weekend. It teaches me that not everyone is opposed to having their photos taken and that some actually like it. This particular day actually allowed me to be a little more open and creative. It was more than just shooting interesting people from a distance. It was also about talking to people who had stories behind the images. That is what street photography is about and what makes it unique.