three from the street: St. Patrick’s Day, Chicago, 2012

OK– there are four here, actually.  I just liked the photo of the fire truck trying to squeeze down Milwaukee Ave.

I captured these from the second floor of the Flat Iron Building in Wicker Park on St. Patrick’s Day.  It was about 10:45pm– and the street had actually calmed down a bit.

What compels me about these photos is the relationship (and the tension) between the people in them.

In the first photograph, look to the top left:  What’s going on between these two guys?  As a writer, this kind of photo is a great inspiration for a free-write– my silly name for a 10 minute writing exercise that’s inspired by a sentence, image, or idea– that gives me a place to begin; I make myself write without stopping for ten minutes– even if it’s only going to be thrown away; I like to think of it as doing my scales.

In the second photograph, top middle: It took me a while, even at super close-up to figure out whose hand that belonged to.  Finally, it was evident that it belongs to the man with his back to us.  Another great inspiration for a free-write.  The man with his back to us is gesticulating– perhaps out of frustration?  The woman looking to the man on the right holds her hands together in front of her– possibly because she’s pleading with him, or asking a question he refuses to answer?  Really, their conversation might have been no more dramatic than trying to remember where they parked.  But– that can be pretty dramatic.

In the third photograph, top left:  Not much needs to be said.  What a great, dramatic position that guy’s in.  Who is he looking at?  And– is he inside, or outside the cage he’s holding onto?  I love that the woman opposite him– down far right– is in a completely different world.  Every time I look at this photo, my eye ping-pongs between the top left man– and her.  What I love most about crowd photographs is always– necessarily– the relationship of the people in them– and seeing their worlds spinning just next to each other, but in different directions.

The fourth photograph:  The fire truck came charging from a distance, the siren overpowering conversations inside the Flatiron Building.  It came out of warp speed as it threaded the needle of Milwaukee, North, and Damen– and then just crawled.  Though I used a 135mm lens– which usually compresses the background to make it look like everything is part of one large stage set– for some reason, the fire truck looks like it has a lot of room.  It finally lumbered away to I forget where.  Someone told a joke– or made a funny noise behind me– so my attention was diverted elsewhere.

The mood of the whole night was raucous and nutty– and the hairs on the back of my neck told me that anything might fly at me from any direction.  A sheep winging over my head wouldn’t have surprised me.  I heard stories later about angry crowds (angry?  at what exactly?  their beer wasn’t green enough?) throwing bottles at police.

It was fun to be out for a bit in the chaos– but it was really fun to finally make it home.

…I’m old.


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