Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Houseless, but happy

"Mr. Campbell" by Wes Aldridge

All things considered, tonight was pretty good. A new photog friend wanted to go out and shoot. We headed downtown and decided to try and help-out society. There are always homeless folks sleeping on some heating vents down by the Ryman Auditorium on 4th Ave., so we went to Tigermarket and bought sandwiches, bottled water, fruit and coffee to take to them. When we got to the "usual" spot, much to my surprise, no one was there. We literally drove around downtown Nashville for more than two hours trying to find people in need of the goods we had to offer. It was unbelievably difficult to give away free food and drinks tonight. After giving out a couple of items to a pair of men, we headed to Hillsboro Village to meet some friends.

We parked and saw a gentleman that looked as if he could use a warm drink and something good to eat. We offered, but he kindly denied the help and said he had some food and he would be OK. He told us two of his friends were over at the Acklen post office and they needed food more than he did. I thought that was true human compassion exemplified by him. He obviously didn't have one of the loft apartments above the Pancake Pantry and doubt his Porsche was in the shop tonigh. But none the less, he told us to take the food to his good friends.

This is where we met Mr. Campbell, or Scotty, if you will. He was a hoot. Some might say it was from the beer on his breath, but he seemed to have a pretty happy outlook on life. He laughed, chatted, sipped his beer... and we all just talked and talked. He did say that he was "houseless," rather than what most people would consider "homeless." I think I undestood what he meant by that. A house is a structure a person dwells in, but a home is where the heart stays. I think Scotty's heart stayed with him, no matter how tough things got.

This shot really ironically worked out very well tonight. Scotty said that he had worked for the Postal Service in the past. Tonight, he was seeking warm shelter in a post office. His photo turned into what I consider a perfect, true environmental portrait of Mr. Campbell. I love the position of his body in the frame and the post office kiosk behind him blurred out from shooting the 50mm at f/1.8. But really, the thing I love the most about it is his smile from having a good time talking to a couple of new young photographer friends and knowing that he had something to put in his stomach for a day or two besides a 40-ounce IceHouse beer.