One of the best parts about living where I live is that I’m only a stones throw from the Venice Beach boardwalk.  Venice is seething with images just begging to be made and time after time when I head down there, close to sunset with a fresh roll it never disappoints.  Whether it’s the freak show or the skatepark or whatever random event occurring in between, you find images–even if they’re not the ones you thought you would make.  

Such was the case with this one.  On the way to the skatepark there had been only a handful of scenes that had caught my eye.  I had managed to get off a couple of frames but missed equally as many.  I was feeling off.  Something wasn’t hitting right.  As I walked, my mind wandered from this to that.  I was taking in the world in front of me but more and more at a subconscious level.  It’s that phase for me between attention and recognition where I can make out shapes and tones but context slowly recedes, dripping silently away, and I’m left with a purely abstract impression of the events unfolding around me and an unspoken narrative running in my head.  

Usually something happens to snap me back–a scene predicates an image, shooting an impulse down the nerve to my right hand, forcing a hard-break from the on/off switch mantra of left/right/left, and into bringing the camera up to my eye so I can interpret the events unfolding in my mind’s viewfinder.  Usually.  This time I snapped out of it because I almost got run over by a woman in a bikini on 80’s roller-skates wearing pink-heart-shaped sunglasses amidst a fury of red curly hair.  I whipped back to reality just in time to jump out of the way but not early enough to make an image.  I had wandered on to the bike path by the skate park without noticing.  

I was struck at the rush of being so close to a fast moving human being.  I crouched down next to the path and framed up to the sky catching the skaters and joggers and cyclists as they zoomed by but I wasn’t getting close enough–again that feeling that I was off.  Venice always makes me think of Winogrand but the frame made me think of Gilden, so much so that all of a sudden everything felt very wrong.  The frame was to wide, I was seeing to much.  I looked through the viewfinder at the lens and realized why.  The night before, after more than a couple glasses of wine, I had vowed to be braver and get closer and make 2018 the year of the 28.  In the sobering daylight of the boardwalk the decision felt unsettling and uncomfortable.  I knew the image I wanted so when I saw the runner coming down the path, I took a deep breath and leaned in close.  I dropped my knee to the concrete and got in low.  The whole movement was fluid.  The lean to my knee while shifting weight forward than right into the pan and punctuated by the smooth click of the shutter–all in one continuous gesture–fully articulated and connected.  Nothing felt more natural.

I have a good feeling about 2018.  I have a really good feeling.  

“Low” shot on my Leica M7 with the 28mm Elmarit on Kodak Tri-X 400 pushed to 800 at the Icon.    

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