It’s hard to be inconspicuous while standing on a busy street corner with a 4x5 camera on a tripod and a black cloth over your head. Few pass by without making a comment or asking a question. Some seek assistance or information. Others are simply curious.
Here are a few of the questions I was asked yesterday morning while photographing the old courthouse in St. Louis where the Dred Scott case was tried:
What are you doing? Is this Broadway? Is that a camera? Could you spare a few dollars? Are you shooting wet plates? Do you know why they built the arch? Am I in your way? Which way is Market? Does that use real film? How old is that camera? Do you have the time? Who are you? Could you help me out, please? Aren’t you cold out here? Is this the courthouse where you file for social security? Are you a surveyor? Where is the nearest shelter? Why would you want to use a camera like that? Would you take our picture? What are you looking at? Do you work for Channel 2 or Channel 8? Why don’t you use digital? Does that thing make long exposures? Can I see?
I love people with a sense of curiosity.