Angry Rant

Today was one of those days. Everybody I asked to take a photograph said no, with one exception. The first person I asked said yes, so that built up my expectations. Some people were cool about it, most of them weren’t. I asked one guy, “What do you think I’m going to do with your picture?” He said, “I don’t care what you do with your little pictures.” I replied, “You don’t have to be so rude.” He was surprised. He didn’t seem to realize that he was being rude. My stars must be out of sync because usually if I go at it with determination, I get several subjects to pose for me. Instead I was treated with hostility and rudeness by a number of people. This causes me to become misanthropic. “People suck!” becomes my battle cry. By then, the whole excursion becomes a waste of time and energy. Just what do people think I’m going to do with their image?

© Russell Smith, Stale, 2012

The people I approach are random and quite frankly most of them should be flattered. I was standing on the corner the other day and there was this young guy waiting for the light to change. A car pulled over and said something to him. He brushed them off. I thought they wanted directions, but he said, “They asked me if I do modeling,” as if he’d been insulted. I said, “What a nice compliment.” He just scurried off like he thought he was really hot shit. What a jerk! To take a compliment like that and turn it around into some kind of insult. That was the vibe I was getting today.

It makes me question what the hell I’m doing trying to get people to pose for me. I should just take their pictures and say fuck it if they don’t like it. I’ve used this approach before and it produces good photographs. One trend: young people and elderly people usually say Yes. Today was an exception. Every young person I asked acted as if they had a stick up their ass. Young people are supposed to be open and exhibitionistic. But then I remember. This is Los Angeles where the young people are cynical and more than a little creepy.

So I took pictures of people here and there. I was sly in some situations. In other situations I just said, “Screw it!” and snapped the pic before the person could turn away or cover their face. It’s a free country and anybody who is walking the sidewalks of Hollywood has a reduced expectation of privacy. This brings up another point. Maybe Hollywood is getting stale. I should take the subway downtown and approach people there. I’m sure I’d get better coöperation. Fresh stomping grounds, and all that.

Well, if it were easy, everybody would be doing it. I have to remember that people are interesting. Each person, with the exception of identical twins (and triplets) is a unique expression of the genetic code that makes us people. The endless variety is stunning. Even people who are fat and ugly are transformed by the magic of photography into unique works of art. I hope my photography celebrates this individuality among humans. Lovely as they are, if you’ve seen one Monarch butterfly, you’ve seen them all. Humans on the other hand are chock full of characteristics that make them seem alike on a superficial level, but if you look closely, people are a glorious cornucopia of traits and attributes. Now you understand what Walt Whitman was saying when he wrote, “I sing the body electric.” Let us revel in our individuality. I must exude my love for humanity if I want people to coöperate with me. I guess I was wrapped up in my discouraged selfish need and people were repelled by it. Sometimes you eat the bear. Sometimes the bear eats you.

Creative commons (google image search)


About Russell Smith

I was born at the American Hospital in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France. I find inspiration in the lives of so many people from Joan of Arc to Oscar Wilde. While my primary avocation is photography, I also enjoy philosophy, theology and most of all, history. My beloved wife, Robin Anne Smith, who passed away in 2013 is also an inspiration to me. My beloved partner, Dana is also a great support and inspiration to me. I'd be remiss if I did not mention my cats: Natasha, Maxwell, Tigger and Nigel.
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4 Responses to Angry Rant

  1. Mimi says:

    It’s true. I’ve had days when I seem to be attracting negativity & the harder I try to be “happy,” the worse it gets. When I just work at being, really focused on where I’m at, what’s going on with me, I seem to have a better response from the world at large. I love your portraits. They really do express a love of individual humanity, with all our blemishes. Your portraits are works of art.

  2. rumpydog says:

    I know that feeling…. I’m having that feeling today actually.

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