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.

5 thoughts on “People

  1. “…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.”

    I think this is my biggest issue in all of my projects seeing the light of day. Too much thinking, too much perfecting, too much ‘what if’.

    I guess the secret is picking some projects for perfecting / thinking / taking your time with. And some projects, like From the Hip, chosen to be quicker, faster and more immediate. Then there’s the poor projects in between that suffer the fate of neither being thought about or ‘flung out there’.

    Anyhow, three cheers for ‘risking it’ with From the Hip. I think it pays off!

  2. I think it merits thinking about making this a gallery package, no? You have concept, focus and talent with a unique perspective.

    Would it not be worth somehow printing these photos out onto high-quality photo stock — say, a select thirty or so — maybe at 11 x 17 — then framing them very discreetly, then presenting the whole idea to a downtown gallery?

    If Yoko Ono can put a sign up in some SoHo gallery saying “Hammer This Nail” with a nail and a hammer under it I’m sure you can do anything you want.

    Marcel Dadi would be proud . . .

  3. Thanks, Milliner!

    Nick, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. Right now I just want to create a body of work, then I’ll think about what else might be done with it. As it is, there are only 2 or 3 that I consistently like, that I think are really “wall-worthy” (but hey! Maybe that’s a figment of my mood!). Still, I’d want to have a lot more to choose from before going down that road.

  4. @Nicholas: I’ve actually presented that idea to Ed a couple of weeks ago. There’s a café in our neighborhood that would be a great space for a modest vernissage, and the owners are friendly, so I think I could help make it happen, eventually.

    Hey, I could be his Yoko Ono! ;)

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