Photography...Airports and Excedrin February 26 2008, 0 Comments

Some of the most interesting photos can be found at the airport…I stopped shooting photos in the airport after 9/11…

Feb 2008
I have just made it through airport security and now I must re-assemble myself. Shoes, sweater, belt, driver’s license, I put that back in my wallet. Much to my surprise, I have neither been hassled nor told to “combine” my bags. Usually, it is a toss up as to whether some poorly trained TSA agent is going to try to get me to take my camera bag and combine it with my other bag because I also have a small purse. This is the point at which I educate them by taking out a copy of their own TSA regulations and show them in black and white that a professional working photographer is allowed one extra bag with camera equipment. I also carry the regulations which allow me to request a hand inspection of the equipment, something that nearly always annoys them, and which, from time to time, has caused some dispute, but only until the regulations are presented! But today this portion of my trip has taken only minutes and no-one seemed to care that I had the extra bag which is really at the discretion of the individual airlines. I tuck my Excedrin back in my bag!

As I make my way to Gate A3, announcements are shooting off like rockets…flight 1437 to LaGuardia has no plane, flight 2105 has no crew. I am more than a bit concerned because I have no seat assignments for a flight I paid nearly $800.00 for. I am shooting in Texas and Houston has weather on the way so I changed flights to be sure that I would make it to the Hill Country of Texas. Happily, I manage to get seats and make my way to Atlanta. I’ve time to sit in the Atlanta airport while I await my flight to Texas so I position myself to watch as though I am seeking images for a new collection. There are the usual folks running to gates for flights that have had final boarding calls and folks traveling with their kids who are walking several paces behind their parents.

I quickly grab a pizza which immediately gives me heartburn and then I settle in for the long wait. In another time, before 9/11, I would have had my camera out and focused. Now I think twice, even three times about it, because I do not want to alarm anyone nor do I wish to make them aware that I am taking their images. I don’t need their permission because I am in a public place but I want the spontaneous emotion, the raw, natural personalities that are in front of me. But needing to get to Texas and not wanting any hassles, my physical camera stays in the bag tonight.

I am sitting in a very open space with a wonderful vantage point for people watching. Across from me are a man and a woman who have leaned into one another as though they are the only people in the universe. They are laughing and holding one another’s hands as if they are sharing the most delicious secrets. I mentally press the shutter button. Next to them sit six army officers. Their shoes are polished like Mary Janes. Their uniforms pressed and their medals are displayed across their chests. They are talking and sharing ham and cheese subs. They are drinking Cokes. I hear them talking about getting back to base. In front of them is a foot soldier in fatigues standing at least 6 feet 3. His duffel bag is slung over his shoulder. He is alone. His face tells me he is not going back to base. In my mind, I press the shutter button again.