On a hot and muggy September 11th, the 2 Million Bikers to DC Rally kept one of its promises. Bikers came to DC. Two-million? Not so much. This happens of course with any protest/rally/march. (they really should stop putting numbers on it) The Million Muslim March for instance ( later changed to Million Americans Against Fear March) barely reached two dozen!
The Bikers I saw lined Constitution Avenue from the Washington Monument to The Lincoln Memorial. A rough, non-scientific guesstimate from yours truly puts the number closer to a few hundred. Not unimpressive, but staggeringly short of the promised two-million. The leather-clad Hog riders revved their engines, waved to confused tourists, and generally hung out in the cooling shade of trees. I did not see speeches from a dais, no memorial service or moment of silence for the victims of that horrible day in 2001. But then, I didn’t stick around the entire day.
Anyway, below is a shot of a man and a woman riding down 17th Street about to turn onto Constitution. She photographing me as I photograph her. I thought that was pretty cool.
On August 23, 2011 a 5.8 magnitude earthquake shook the DC region. Although the quake’s center was 80 some miles southwest of DC, it was powerful enough to set the obelisk swaying and cause significant damage to the masonry. It is now completely encased in scaffolding as workers assess the damage and begin repairs. The scaffolding itself is wrapped in blue scrim and decorative lights, which I understand is really quite lovely at night. (Yeah, I know, I should go get that shot.)
The monument is closed to the public and should reopen in Spring 2014.
Most of the last couple months has been spent exploring the city. As the weather warms I expect to be down there more and more. The other evening my wife and I were walking to the car past the monuments and the river and I don’t know if it was the evening sun casting long shadows and a warm glow or just the hint of Spring in the air, but we both remarked on what a great little city DC is. Of course we both always felt that way, but sometimes you need to walk down a different street, take a new route at another time of day… change your perspective and you see it all anew.
I once used my earbuds while on the train into the city. After making it halfway through the song I pulled them out and put the phone away. I couldn’t stand not hearing the world around me. The screech of the steel wheels on the rails. The goofy Metro voice warning the doors were closing. The giggling of high-school girls. The general hum of everyday life. I haven’t used them in public since.
The smartphone generation. Phone calls, texting, gaming, listening to music, surfing the web. Social engagement on perpetual hold.
Back on the streets again. From Capitol Hill to Georgetown. Looking for the soul of the city. What is Washington DC all about? Is there a defining characteristic?
I can’t say I know the answer yet… Even after all these years. I just keep looking.
“If you want it, you get nothing. Just be receptive and it happens.” Henri Cartier-Bresson
I was just watching a documentary on the old man and this is the line that stood out. I have felt this for sure, but never tried to express it. And yes, it’s true. Going out with a preconceived idea of a photograph almost never works. No matter if I’m hiking in the wilds or strolling city streets.
It happens, most of the time, when I’m not looking for anything. Call it serendipity, call it luck. I call it keeping my eyes, mind and heart open. Being an intuitive observer. It’s almost unconscious. You feel it when it’s happening. And you begin shooting. Really shooting… like mad. Because at that point there’s no other way to shoot. It is a kind of madness. An instinctive, visceral condition with little control. And man it feels good.
And, by the way, Cartier-Bresson would love the iPhone. (or any other smart phone with a good camera inside)