I drive by a little barbershop near work, when it's still dark out. It always catches my eye. The lights are on and there's always someone in the chair. I'm oddly fascinated.
So today I stopped my car and snapped a few photos from outside. Then I went in and blurted out, "I'm a photographer and can I take photos of you and your shop!"
The barber immediately laughed and said "As long as your not collecting evidence, sure!"
We ended up talking for a while. He's hilarious! I'll be stopping back on random mornings. I told him he's my new project. He replied, "It's about time I was someone's project!"
A week later I passed a similar barbershop a few blocks away. Abandoned. It must have been the original. I got excited to have found it, to show him, but then I thought, it might make him sad.
I stopped by a few weeks later to give him a few prints of the photos I'd taken. He was so excited to see the photo I took from outside, of him cutting someone's hair. He said, "all these years, and I've never seen myself at work!"
We talked about where he's from (Yugoslavia) and he offered to cut my hair for free. Because, "I'm a barber and I have better tools for cutting short hair!"
We also talked about the neighborhood and how "Asian Town" has really helped so many small family owned businesses.
I work in an area of Cleveland known as Asian Town. As Steve the barber told me, the neighborhood was dying, until the Asian merchants and families came to the area. Now it's, not thriving, but surviving. (And I am now working in walking distance of 3 Phở restaurants!)
I went to lunch with coworkers today, at a Pho place in a building with a large Asian grocery store. I love walking around the building and made sure to bring my camera.
i stopped in a store selling fancy blankets and met a nice indian gentleman (a Sikh) and we talked and he let me take his portrait.
The thing about him and the barber, they are just older people working in tiny shops and they don't get much excitement. So I think it's fun for them to have someone notice them and want to take their pic. They are people most of us don't notice.
This morning I drove by the barbershop and there was Steve, and a customer in the chair. i like looking over and seeing him there, every time. It's comforting.
But someday he'll be gone, like this cool mural on the side of a night club. It was there one day and I took a pic on my iPhone. I went back a few days later and it was gone, painted over with ugly beige paint.
Or like the man in the blanket store. I went to give him a print of his portrait, and he was gone...
So I guess I'll just keep my camera with me at all times, and I'll keep looking for those "hidden" people.