Caribbean music plays in the distance, a refreshing breeze blows across my face. I am pleasantly warm, but not sweaty. A perfect day at the beach.
Suddenly my eyes pop open, those aren't the sounds of the Caribbean I hear in the distance, that is my alarm. I reach over the side of the bed, grab my phone off the charger and tap the screen to stop the music. I look at the time on the screen, ten minutes after five. I have been sleeping through my alarm for ten minutes. How did that happen? Then I remembered, last night before going to bed, I had set the fan on medium instead of low, to help clear the stuffy air out of the bedroom. Obviously medium is much louder.
I don't have to be anywhere early, I just don't like to deviate from my normal routine. I lie back on my pillow. I was having the best dream, in it I was Vivian Maier, the mysterious street photographer of the 1950's and 60's. She built an intriguing and sometimes haunting body of black and white street photography work over her lifetime, a body of work that wasn't discovered until after her death. I have been fascinated with her story since the moment I heard it, to have such amazing work and never share it, seems so sad.
Vivan also had a unique talent for captivating self-portraits. These were often captured in the reflections of building windows and doors. I envision myself as Vivian Maier every time I take my own self-portraits.
I recently spent the day in Michigan City, Indiana. Another place that has been on my bucket list for a long time. For the past twenty years I have made almost yearly trips to Michigan City, not to photograph, but to shop. There is huge outlet mall there, the first of it's kind in our midwest area. I would stare longing out the car window as we drove through the deteriorating downtown, the storefronts boarded up, with peeling paint, and crumbling bricks. Buildings like those give me the same rush that a heroin addict probably feels when they press the contents of the needle into the vein of their arm.
For twenty years I tortured myself by driving by those buildings in favor of bright, shiny and new. Bright, shiny and new really isn't my thing.
As I stood on the corner in front of my first high of the day, I wondered what people thought as they saw me photographing an old derelict building. Were they curious? Were they envious? Were they suspicious? As I knelt on the pavement in front of that former barber shop, photographing it from every angle, I envisioned a documentary photographer following me around for the day, capturing me capturing the things I love. Not that I enjoy having my photograph taken, I would just like to see what other people see as I photograph.
Where I deviate from Vivian Maier is that I would like for people to see my work before I die. I would like to have conversations about it, and about their work. I want to encourage others to do the things that give them those euphoric moments, just as photographing old buildings does for me.