Photography for me is provocation. It incites emotions, feelings and above all questions. Especially street photography, because I’m dealing with a human subject. But I also experience this provocation in my wildlife and scenic photography too.
I pick my subjects intuitively, instinctively. It’s usually when I get into the processing that the real emotions bubble to the surface. The photo above is good example. I took this picture in Quito, Ecuador about two months ago. Who is this guy?
I was in Quito for almost three months, and during that time I saw this guy almost everyday while walking around the city. He was always dressed the same, and he always had these two pieces of furniture with him. Always stacked the same. A tall table (or desk) and a stool. Why?
He never sat on the furniture. He always sat on the ledge, knees together, hands folded in his lap. Why? I never saw him come or go, he was just there. One second there was no guy, the next second the guy was there. Why? What is his story? Does he have family, friends? I never saw any indication that he did.
Is he mentally challenged? He didn’t look homeless, he was always clean and tidy. But he never smiled, or even moved. Always the same, every single day. He never made any attempt to sell his furniture, it was just always with him. Why, why, why? Does this image provoke you too? Do you have questions? I think a good photograph makes you think, it sucks you in. This photo looks benign, but it won’t let me go. I will never have the answers I seek. It makes me a little crazy, and that’s the obsession.
Stephen F. Dennstedt
Photographer, Writer and World Traveler