Thanks Candy Man...

2008-05-14

Hi everyone-

Today I want to talk a bit about inspiration and learning to live without "storms" or issues that we don't need to. There are a few hang ups or issues that I have with my photography or actually more within myself but that effect my photography.

I have been aware of these issues for some time and have made an attempt to free myself of them and to allow myself to open up to people and create better images and really just allow myself to have better experiences in life.

That isn't always as easy as it seems. Several of the exercises what we were assigned dealt directly with some of these issues. So I knew that during this workshop there would have to be some soul searching and some learning about why I set these limitations to myself.

On the morning of the second day we set out to one of the beautiful squares in Savannah for our next assignments. It started out with some basic work shooting other group participants but then once that was completed we headed out on our own. I had to approach people in a different way than I would normally so there was some anxiety building about the exercise.

Apparently that was visible on my face and in my body language. As the group split up Craig pulled me aside and we talked about some the issues for a while. Then leaving and not really sure if I felt better about it or not I set out. I knew what I had to do but I was really unsure if I would pull it off. So I set out and had some mild success with the first two people I came across. But the images weren't great. As I was walking I came across someone who I had heard so many wonderful things about from Craig and others in previous groups, Hayward.

I was walking along and there is was. This was one of three experiences I had at the workshop where the right person showed up at just the right time to help me deal with something that was holding me back or just to teach me a little more about me.

Hayward is from Savannah and is a local legend. Know in Savannah as the Candy Man, he walks throughout downtown selling bags of peanut M and Ms and Skittles for a dollar. But his real gift is the conversation that you can have with him if you want to.

Many people pass him by or just purchase their candy and move on. But what they miss is a potentially life changing conversation with someone who has faced so much adversity in his life but feels none of it.

Hayward is completely zeroed in on living the life he wants to, free of "storms" or adversity. Hayward has been blind for 40 years of his life. He grew up in the south and faced all of the issues that a black man would have in those times as well as a degenerative eye disease which slowly left him blind.

But he is completely self actualized and does not let anything bring him down. I had the opportunity to talk one on one with him for some time on that day. We talked about who we were, what we do, our families (his lives close to me), and some of the issues that I face within myself as a photographer.

He gave me his thoughts and lifted my spirits at a time (of several) when they were down because of what I had to do. This is a special man. If you ever get to Savannah you will not have truly experienced the town and what it has to offer if you do not have a conversation with Hayward. It very well could change your entire outlook on life and belief system.


You can not help but have a great day after a conversation with Hayward...

5 comments:

Nick said...

Great images and an interesting story. I think I have seen Hayward before somewhere.

Dale Jr.(Wally) said...

Brian is is my first time on your site,,it's great...Well I add it to my list in the morning right after looking at Brad's,, you gentleman a great with your camera's,,, you guy's got me carrying my camera every where I go now,, it's relaxing,,trip to the mtn. watching the trains,etc.
Keep up the great work on the site,,

Brian Bastinelli said...

Dale-

Welcome to my blog, I am glad you enjoyed the site.

I find my camera is an appendage now, like a new arm or something. LOL

Ted Byrne said...

It's the third image which seems to escape the artificiality of "introduced street portraits". I fully understand Craig's approach to penetrating the privacy shell people understandably build around them. But the problem with asking permission is to picture only the heavily guarded and fully arranged features of the subject. They are not candid shots.

Okay. they are still character studies. But they rarely capture a sense of someone interacting with his/her environment. The person pulls him/her self out of the surrounding into an idealized reality that they imagine.

Now that is still valuable to capture, God knows that Dianna Arbus created classic character studies that way.

But... candid photography has always interested me the most. Cartier-Bresson purposely used an inconspicuous Leica to capture the decisive moment.

Now, you might argue, that I cannot actually publish my candids since they lack model releases. And of course I throw that back at you and the street portrait people. My guess is that no one came away with model releases.

The fact is that if you choose in this country to use images taken in public places for purposes of journalism or non-commercial publication you will not run afoul of privacy laws. So both sorts of images are equally protected for the purposes of fine artists.

It's the last image in this series which best seems unguarded and in synch with what the subject is there for. I wonder to what degree his blindness bridges the gap between street portraiture and candid photography? Hmmmm.....

pnfphotography said...

EXCEPTIONAL your work is just beautiful work.... such character.... very very nice!!!