Because reality can be a little dull, and also because I’ve watched far too many movies, I often get the two mixed up. And so it was last weekend when I was working on some family portraits. Being able to make a connection with people isn’t something you find in books about how to take pictures, or not in enough of them anyway, and yet it is the quality that allows me to make half decent images. It was the same when I was a teacher, working in Prague. What a job. Rolling around a beautiful, cultured city by tram, passing the working hours in the company of people who, by and large, just wanted to chat in English. It sounds easy. It was pretty easy. But it was mainly easy because I could find ways into their lives; remembering children’s names, or stories they had told months before. I did need to move on from that life though, so here I am now, doing pictures for a living, as opposed to just for an obsession as it was back then in Europe.
Looking at the images of the families, I can see that qualities learned from the teaching are still in play today. People look comfortable, relaxed, hopefully as they would like to look. The situation has nothing to do with the movies of Al Pacino, but as I said before, reality isn’t always that fun, and in my head, I’ve always wanted to be a gangster. So me reaching back in time to use skills I didn’t think I would need again put me in mind of Pacino’s character Carlito, from the 1993 Brian DePalma movie, Carlito’s Way. Carlito’s been in jail, he’s out now, and he just wants a normal life. But something always pulls him back. He can’t escape what he was. It’s a great film, you really need to see it. If you haven’t already. So for Carlito unable to move passed his past, well that’s the same as me trying to move beyond chatting for a living and getting pulled back to more chatting. Isn’t it?