Shooting What’s Out There

I don’t go too far afield for my photos: there are people everywhere, and they are my primary subject — washed, unwashed, tattooed, or plain. Even for the lazy observer they’ve got a story to tell, though they may not always want to tell it. Sometimes people with strong folk traditions don’t want you to steal their souls with your camera. Sometimes tough guys don’t want their tattoos photographed because the cops know them too well. Sometimes parents don’t want a hairy old guy taking pictures of their kids. Or sometimes, seeing a big camera and an intense focus, people (always young) will beg to have their picture taken. In any case, you gotta shoot.

I want to document the life in my city. I want to show humans (and dogs) in all their spontaneity. Here is our seaside park in the summer — the kids careening; the teenagers on their urgent missions; the old folks savoring the moment; the care- or work- or passion-driven wage earners taking a break. I want to freeze their souls for an instant and store that one slice here.

Other venues I shoot include the venerable me&thee coffeehouse, where you can hear live music every Friday night from the fall to the spring; the Museum of Printing in Haverhill, Mass.; the City of Angels (aka the magnificent Pine Grove Cemetery); a RAW Arts exhibition; and, indeed, the entire city and environs, from above. Not to mention the most colorful place of all — my old neighborhood.

These pictures were taken over the last five years with a Canon Rebel XSi or Canon EOS 7D, and a Canon 50mm 1.4 lens or a Sigma 17–50mm 2.8 zoom. I learn as I go.

Cliff Garber