SideWalk Ghosts / Interview 97: “Photography Truly Is A Powerful Medium”

We finish day two of our photo shoot today. All goes well, and at wrap, two of my crew friends (for the second day, Tyler, along with the lovely Tonya) do what any respecting photographic artists would do at the end of a successful day… buy shoes.

Well, at least that’s Tonya’s plan, and being the supportive lads that Tyler and I are, we are happy to join her in a shopping tour. Plus there is a bonus; Bloomingdales has comfortable chairs for shoe shoppers. Been on our feet all day, and a term of duty in a mushy chair is looking pretty promising.

I need to tell you a little more about my work history, I was once a young Al Bundy, and yes, I’m proud of it, got me through photo school. For those of you who don’t know All Bundy, he was the subject of a sitcom that aired from 1987 to 1997: Married with Children.

In the show, dear old Al was a rather uncouth gentleman, but the premise of the comparison is funny non-the-less. I use it in gest, knowing one thing; I was a charming shoe salesman, the anti-character of our satirical Al Bundy.

So when our shoe salesman hits me with this question, “What camera do you shoot with?” I am set back. How in sam heck does he know I am a shooter? The answer, obvious, forty pounds of photo backpack on my shoulder.

Who is our man of the moment? Emerging artist, and the future of photography: Storyteller, Bradley. “I’m going to Brooks Institute (my alma mater), and am selling women’s shoes to save some money for it.”

Oh yeah! I forgot to tell you, “I sold women’s shoes through my time at Brooks.”

Bradley tells me of his past internships and of his business plans. The guy is sharp and sober in his thoughts. He speaks of his enthusiasm for photography and of looking forward to the three years of training he is about to embark on.

It does not take me more than one explanation of 365 to get his acceptance to be today’s friend. So much so, that I have invited him to work with us on our photo shoot tomorrow. If I find time, I’ll get back to you a let you know how it goes.

We walk the shoe department for a couple minutes, and for our photos, settle in an isle between a couple of sale shoe racks. Boy, do I remember this rack. Always led to a double sale in my shoe days.

The interview turns out to be no picnic. The eyes of management, and hoards of holiday shoppers are upon us, leaving us only a few minutes to shoot and talk. Bradley is stoic, staying focused and able to well manage both his photo opportunity and the several customers that he is serving.

No one really complains as we shoot, yet when Bradley and I park momentarily at a counter for an interview, we are subtly corrected via a single comment of Bradley’s manager as she walks into the stockroom. Her comment, a rather low toned, “Bradley.”

I get the message loud and clear, “Bradley, back to your sales.”  Interview is over.

Here is what Bradley quotes:

Words of Wisdom: “You absolutely have to keep an open mind, and regardless of their culture, be respectful to people in general.”

About the Future: “My hobby is Philosophy and Theology. So, in ten years I’d like to not only be somewhat established as a photographer, but more importantly, be recognized for work that brings awareness to issues in our society that causes people to stop and think for a moment, and that my imagery will help promote change for the bettering of our society.

Photography truly is a powerful medium, isn’t it?