June 21, 2010

Modest Moment

It didn't take more than a second to know I wanted to photograph this guy. I was visiting the co-op office and he was in line to have his green beans weighed. Background options were somewhat limited but I figured I could use the white wall ten feet away. I persuaded him over to the wall and in doing so caused a wave of laughter and playful mocking from the other farmers.

Just as I got him into place I could see the default stiffness about to wash over him. That rigidity is a rather typical reaction to being photographed that I've noticed folks default to when in front of my camera. Their arms lock to their sides, they remove all expression from their faces, and they stare blankly into the lens. I call it the passport photo effect and I've speculated that it happens because the majority of times these rural farmers get photographed, it's for official documents or similarly formal affairs. The smiling snapshot or today's straight-armed self-portraits are learned behaviors.

Anyway, I capitalized on the the laughter of the group and his own embarrassment to make this shot. In the moments before he was to get serious, he reached up to remove his hat and allowed himself to laugh. He wasn't expecting me to be shooting so fast. More laughter rolled through the spectators but he quickly got his game face on and the moment was over.

Make pictures.

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