Old Box #8: Snap, Snap, Snap, Synaptic Slapstick Sneak Thief

You want to discuss the photograph, to hear about it. Ear Art. I want to discuss the creative process, visual timing, the galaxy behind my ball clock eyes. Equipment, don’t even mention it. The equipment disappears. The photographs (or pictures) are fifty percent content, fifty percent atmospheric conditions. Like a shady friend boosting a martini, I’m just mid-century enough to dodge the kind of light born to bully. An impossible predicament, partially German, the way Leica loves an aftermath. Flat aspect ratio in effect, as if I snapped all three images from my knees. What a sport, dribbling the camera between my legs––crossover, spin, hesitate, a frame within a frame like a double backboard, choose a lane like a lens, reverse layup. I compete with my sneakers when I am out shooting. One on one in the paint. Get out of the way. Bench me, my usual way of seeing, to get the image.

Uniform: black tee, black pants, black boots. The black camera vanishes, as if camouflaged, against my chest or resting (like an extra eye) on my hip. Cut down the net when I am out of film. I’ve gotten better at guessing distance, the turn of the ring to the flaw of near perfect focus. By the time the subject hits the spot, I’m already there. Real sight, radical judgement. No different than the way I steal things from sleep. I’m mirrorless not a DSLR, quiet as a rangefinder. The way to thief without getting into beefs. The way to split the gap in the personal space of strangers, no fear, camera strapped. A Pick 6 for the streets, the end zone glow of glory. Offensive coordinator yelling, “Rule of thirds, protect the blindside. Rule of thirds, protect the blind side!” So very focused on the middle of the image, the action under center. Everyone knows what happens if you shake a Coke then untwist the lens cap.

The Coke Bomber / Second Frame / St. Petersburg, Florida / TSE / 2024

Like mine, the father is into race cars. Like me, the boy has an imagination and can turn a plastic bottle into a hammer. Perhaps he has a dangerous trickster brother. If he ever goes on tour, his kid mop-top will protect him. His mother’s stretched legs are sharp enough to slice an eye. A photograph needs discrete charm. One of Hitchcock’s mechanical pets flew into the frame. She kicked at it but I missed the shot. Fence as wallpaper. Ponytail as moody violin bow, black and white concerto. A house could drop on us right now and we’d still blame the gold standard for having to walk all the way back to our cars once the plastic bottle has disappointed the molotov cocktail. Either way, this unconventional family portrait is about to explode.

The Coke Bomber / Third Frame / St. Petersburg, Florida / TSE / 2024

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