The photo is from a New York Times Travel assignment. The story was called something like “Hip Oakland” the basic idea of the story was Oakland has long been overshadowed by its larger or more famous neighbors; San Francisco, San Jose and Silicon Valley, Berkeley, Marin, Napa and Sonoma Counties etc. This photo was made at a street festival called something like First Friday, hint, they do it on the first Friday of each month. The band was set up in a very dark ally and as I was walking by I noticed the little boy runn
ing around the band as they played (the band seemed quite happy that he was enjoying their music). As I raised my camera to my eye to make the photo, the boy stopped and stared at me. He was not posing, he seemed as curious about what I was doing as I was in what he and the band were doing.
I had been to Oakland many times, but usually for a very specific reason, photograph someone or something there and go back to SF. I never spent a lot of time there, not for any reason other than I do not know the area that well, and having to go all they way across the Bay Bridge or on the BART Transbay Tube, is just so far (I am lazy). Once when my friend Tim lived in Oakland I spent the afternoon with him around Lake Merritt, it was great to see Tim and get to know the area a little better.
For the Hip Oakland story I had a list of places the writer thought was worth noting and I was amazed at every stop. When I am doing such photos, and for a recognized and well respected client like the New York Times people seem to be a whole lot nicer and willing to let me experience their lives for a bit. However, as I have begun this journey into better understanding the creative process, I am realizing that people in general like when someone is interested in what they are doing, regardless of why you are shooting the photos or just talking to them. The expectation that shooting for a national publication will be better received than me shooting for myself is false. The key is being upfront with what you are doing, be genuinely curious, and smile once and a while.
My kids are on Spring Break and we will be going on an unstructured road trip to Las Vegas, to see their mother, and back. I want to take them to Death Valley, look at the once-in-a-lifetime spring flower blooms. My goal is to only have the vaguest goals, get off the main road and see whats out there.
An unstructured day is a great way to add structure and discipline into your work life.