So I found myself unexpectedly in the middle of a joint exercise in restraint, being ready and being personable.
It was on Saturday, I was scheduled to work an event. I was supposed to be capturing video and photos of the owner of racing company as he participated in a drifting demo at the Xtreme Autofest in Los Angeles, but unfortunately, he was unable to show up, so I found myself at a street racing and modified car auto show, with an all access pass, my camera gear, and, well, quite frankly, enough stimulation to keep many people happy all day, but for some reason, I just wasn't feeling it. A huge part of me was saying "take pictures…it doesn't matter of none of this is really doing much for you…TAKE PICTURES!!!," but then another part of me was saying, "well, why force it?" So I didn't. I simply walked around, and enjoyed a free day at the festival, eating barbecue, scoping out cars, watching the drift demo, snapped a few shots there, saw a train of at least 35 tricked out Impalas roll around the grounds…was very pleasant, and didn't really think about photos even though I had the camera strapped around my being all day for 9 hours. So 6 o'clock rolls around…and at a time when most would tell themselves to stick around because the sun is falling, and the light is getting better, and this is when the good stuff happens, something inside kept telling me to leave. Usually, I'd brush it off and give into convention, but this time, for some reason, I unapologetically told myself, "screw it, I'm leaving!"
I was planning on going directly to my parents home an hour south to spend the next day, Mothers Day, with the familia. So I got in my car, and started driving. I rolled into Temecula about 40 minutes before the sun was going to dip behind the valley hills and disappear, so figured I'd drive around for a bit, with no expectations, and see if anything caught my eye…and boy did it…I came across a blueberry farm on a street that was once closed to traffic, and just as I turned the corner, I saw the light falling on it…pink, orange, pastel blue skies, it was gorgeously inviting. So I pulled onto the farm, no one was around, jumped out of my car, and started snapping shots. The tractor, the fence, the barn, the horses…I got there right in time.
A man came out of the farm house and seemed a bit irritated, explaining to me that "We're closed. We re-open on Thursday. I don't have liability insurance on you until then." I tried to tell him that I just saw the sun setting, the beautiful farm, didn't know they were closed, and couldn't resist really. He said something along the lines of "you should have at least asked." And I know he's right, but with 20 minutes left of light and trying to find angles and shots, that's where most of my mind was. I was torn at the moment between trying to be nice and cordial while knowing full well my attention was on nothing but the shots I could be getting while I was talking to him, so I started pointing things out and genuinely showing my excitement at the light and the opportunities.
So as I was trying to explain myself, my eye kept drifting to what the light was dropping on, knowing right well that there were only a few minutes left of this…my attention darted from the light bouncing off the horse tails, the fence, the barn, the gravel, and back to him, trying to explain that I didn't know they were closed and that I profusely apologized for being there after hours, but that I was 'chasing the light.' It was then that it hit me…he's just standing there feeling like I don't care, and most of the words he was telling me were going in one ear and out the other…and that was completely disrespectful to him. That''s when the photographer in me stopped for a moment, and the human in me woke up.
I slowed my roll, walked over to him, looked into the farmer's eyes and apologized again, and I saw him release a bit of tension when he saw that I was genuine for the first time since he came out and saw me trespassing on his property. I took a moment to show him a couple of the images on my camera, and he stepped back a bit and said, 'Wow, that's actually pretty nice. Is this what you do for work?' I told him I did, in various conventions, make my living (if you'll call it that) in photography and photography related work. That's when he took a few steps back, sat down off to the side on a tree stump, and then just watched me, letting me do my thing. I think there was a moment there that he knew that I meant absolutely no disrespect, and realized my intentions were quite the opposite…to do my best to capture the beauty that they built here at the Temecula Berry Farm.
I couldn't have been there for more than 30 minutes or so, but walked away with a few images I was pretty happy with. 9 hours at the fair, nothing. 30 minutes on the farm…boom!
I gave him my card, told him I'd gladly send him the photos, he appreciated that and we went about our separate ways.
So that was my exercise in being ready, being real, and paying attention to the gut.
Now just need to practice it more…