People

One of the driving forces behind From the Hip — Montreal is my curiosity about people. As I walk through the city and the subways, I’m always looking at people — usually, but not always, sidelong — wondering who they are and what they’re about. Particularly so if there is something notable about them (unusual clothing, very tall or very short, unusual gait, etc.) It’s something of a clandestine activity, as city people don’t take kindly to strangers staring at them.

From that grew my From the Hip project, which is basically a way of preserving my brief curiosities about the people I see in passing. There’s only one problem; sometimes I don’t give a flying f**k about people. I get moody now and then, and it makes me want to retreat from the crowds and to avoid people. When I’m in a mood like that I look at my photos on From the Hip and think “what a bunch of crap! Why do I waste my time taking fuzzy and crooked pictures of banal strangers doing banal things?”

Fortunately, I get over it. Then it swings the other way. Sometimes in the evening when I’m reviewing a few day’s worth of hip-shooting efforts I find myself enamoured with almost every image. I re-live the moments when I’m shooting the clandestine photos and hoping I’ve gotten something that brings together a bit of a moment among strangers. I look at the blur and think “action! drama!” A couple of days later I look at the same images and think “Blurry! Out of focus!”

In the end, I try to choose photos for From the Hip that combine a sense of the dramatic, the aesthetic, and the inquiry. But I don’t let myself edit too much, which is contrary to the advice I usually give. I want there to be a sense of the letting go, of the flinging it out there, without it being overly thought through.

Some work better than others. On some days they’re all good and on other days they all suck. But they’re out there, and that’s already ten steps ahead of the dozen or so other projects that I never got around to because I thought about them too much.