“Are you taking pictures of me?” he asked somewhat curiously, somewhat annoyed. I was. He spontaneously struck a pose, I quickly took the shot. “They stole one of my guitars,” he candidly shared. “It’s okay: I have two more, motherf*ckers!”
I lamented the unfortunate turn of events. Seemingly unfazed, he replied, “I only need one thing, know what I’m saying?” Digging underneath his shirt, he pulled out a crucifix necklace, held it high and paused for my affirmation. “No doubt,” I said, perhaps a bit later than he expected.
It was early Summer in Virginia Beach, Virginia and my guitar-playing friend and I were only a handful of people on the beach before sunrise. I was visiting from San Francisco, California, equipped with my trusty Hexar RF camera and a brand new Voigtlander Ultron 35mm f/2 MC Aspherical Type II lens attached.
I wondered about that portrait I just took of the unnamed man, directly backlit as he was, and how the lens would handle the flare of the rising sun. Quite well, it turns out. Inside the camera was Portra 400, a film I had not shot in quite some time for no particular reason but was glad I had loaded on this beautiful Summer’s morning.
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He motioned over to a new location to pose for another shot. “I’m not a photographer or anything, but this looks like a good place to take a picture,” he directed. I asked for his email address to send him a copy of the pictures. “I don’t have email, they stole my phone too.” It was obvious they were assholes. He asked if I could run to Walgreens, a local drugstore, and print out a copy for him. “I’ll be here all day,” he informed me, as he pointed to the massive tent canopy he had erected before sunrise. Unfortunately, I was shooting film and it would be weeks before I would see the developed results.
As I continued to stroll down the beach I noticed a group of chairs piled high, waiting to be unloaded and dispersed for the inevitable deluge of guests for the day. Just then, surfers approach the ocean as the sun enters the final arc of its easterly ascent. As they get closer to the water’s edge, I dart over looking like a crazed city slicker, removing the camera from around my neck, and opening my aperture as wide as it goes. The shot goes off, the sun is up and as the day begins, it’s time to continue to explore all Virginia Beach has to offer.
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