Pictures of a Bus Stop

I think images should require something from the person who is looking upon them. A photograph doesn’t or shouldn’t have to be obvious in order to be something that holds some value. I think this image could be taken as an example of that. I don’t want to say much more about the picture itself. It either makes a statement to you or it doesn’t. It made a statement to me.

Now it has a sequel. The top image was shot almost a year ago and was taken with the Zeiss 50mm Sonnar 1.5. I think the color representation of that lens is evident in the image. That lens is just stellar and classic. The second image, the one at the bottom of this post, was taken with the Leica 50mm Summilux 1.4 ASPH, and I think the color signature of that lens is also amazingly evident in this shot.

I call the color I get from my 50’lux ‘comic book color’ and I mean that as a high compliment, although some people have taken issue with that characterization. I think you can see what I mean by that description, however, by looking at this image in comparison to the Zeiss image.

The 50’lux  does the most stunning job of slapping an abundance of the primary colors all over the film plane. I love it. I’m addicted to it. I’ve never seen anything like it. And I couldn’t live without it at this point. 😉

Both were taken with (shhhh!) Walgreens 400 ISO film. Light was much different, though. The first image was taken in sunlight, and the second was taken after the sun was down behind the buildings. Aperture opens up and everything here in Los Angeles at that time is bathed in a fantastic blue glow, I’ve always imagined because of the close proximity of the mighty Pacific.

My plan is to shoot more images like this that are attempting to make statements (even if only to me) that express the humanity of my subjects and hint at some of the complexities of their lives and their predicaments and the costs of their struggles as shown on their faces.

There are so many cliches surrounding the largely Mexican American immigrant base in California and the United States.

I’m not expressing a political perspective with what I hope to be an ongoing photographic project. But the Hispanic population, their families, their contributions, and their various ‘roles’ in what makes up Los Angeles is so complex that the cliches and the level of understanding around the country of their presence here amounts to an affront to true cultural understanding.

Being Mexican in Los Angeles, or El Salvadorian or Guatemalan, be it as an illegal or as a someone born of legal immigrants, with rare exception, is to live a life that makes you collectively part of the cheap labor engine that enables so many of the rest of us here to live crisp clean unburdened lives. Los Angeles is a story that is built, not just historically, but every single day, upon the labor of this population base.

There is a flip side to this story, of course, which is the effect that having such a massive cheap labor population base made up of one ethnicity has on other, even American-born, ethnicities. But these pictures can only tell the story that they tell, and it is, I think, an important one to tell.

Thanks for looking, and long live FILM.

21 comments

  1. The second image makes more of a statement to me. I’m not even sure what that is, to be honest, as I’d need to stare at it some more – but it definitely strikes a certain note with me. Not every photo is going to make a statement to everyone. If even one person finds a story in my photos, I’m happy – it’s that simple for me!

    I’ve stopped buying “expensive” film ages ago. For colour, I only use Fuji Superia 400 – which is about $12 for three roles, at Shoppers Drug Mart! I like the colour quality from that film – nice and vibrant. Happy Sunday to you!

    1. Wow. If I told you what I was paying you would be sick. I would wait for sales at Walgreens that brought the price of a four pack of 24 exposure rolls down to under $6 bucks. 😉 Like a buck and a quarter a roll. I have a bin in the fridge bursting with film right now and don’t even bother looking for more sales at this point. I probably have a hundred rolls right now. Once I got the M-E I stopped shooting film. I’ll get back to it, but I’m not in any hurry. I really am enjoying this camera.

      Anyway, thank you. The top picture was shot about 10 months or so prior to the second one. So that shot had a lot of time to sink into my mind and heart and honestly it reached kind of an iconic level with me. I think it’s the ‘praying hands’ of the young man that gives the image a depth and weight. Anyway. I also think, or believe, that living here and seeing class, culture, and race etc. in Los Angeles maybe causes me to imbue certain scenes or visions with certain associated emotions or impressions.

      Anyway, thank you for looking and commenting, Mike. As always it means a lot to hear your input.

      Thank you.

      db

  2. Donald, these photos always show desperation to me. I want everything to be green grass and picket fences, so it’s hard for me to digest these images. I don’t want to have to ever go to a 7-11, or wait at a bus stop (I did when I was young), or try to find health insurance to cover a growing family, or call some crappy lawyer to get rid of a ticket that I probably deserved. The photography is good; what it says makes me sad.

    1. I agree. I try not to be maudlin or capture too obvious images though. I think, as I said, there is more of an impact/reward when the person viewing an image has to bring some things – realizations, implications – to the viewing of a shot it can give the image more of a quality impact than an obvious image would. Anyway.

      I hope I don’t drive anyone’s emotions downward to much, however. I do try to mix it up and honesty have never been shy about showing images that capture great joy as well. And there is a lot of joy in LA, believe it or not. somehow people are very happy here. 😉

      thanks for commenting!

      db

    2. Hello kerbey! Hope you don’t mind but I really started to wonder what kind of ‘world’ you’re living in when reading your comment if you find these images already hard to digest (as the majority of the world population has to deal with situations that are much worse). By the way what’s wrong with waiting at a busstop? At least in Europe that’s completely normal. Probably more (white?) Americans should do that, it defenitely reduces smog. I myself find it hard to digest to see people that never walk, and ‘need’ to take a car to go somewhere. 🙂 Have a nice day!

      1. It’s hard to see people who look like they are struggling, have their hands full, having hard times. I know that’s reality; I rode a bus to work for years. People were usually in bad moods, in a hurry. But you can same the same in a car. Riding a bus is tough w/ kids and getting groceries, etc. I just hate to see people looking sad, but I enjoy seeing all types of photographs. I won’t comment anymore, if that upset you. I was just saying I like the ones w/ people who look happy.

      2. That was crazy Rosa! 🙂 , and I love to read your comments, kerbey, sorry for being so ‘direct’, it wasn’t meant to be rude 😉 (shame on me, will try do it better next time, English is not my first language). Abrazos.

  3. I am sure the sign on the bench in both pictures has nothing to do with why these people are actually taking the bus, but I think it does really add to the photos.

    Also, I know that some people see sadness in the second picture, but as someone who sees people take the bus on a daily basis in my city, I see a family making their way through the world. It may not always be the easiest journey, but they are together. I really like these. Well done.

  4. Terrific post, Mr. Barnat. You are right about photographs that mean something tothe pphotographer. Without that I don’t really see a point to pursue/indulge in photography. Just my opinion.

    We are a conceited, ungrateful lot, aren’t we? Everything and everyone is dependent on each other. Like this phone I’m using to type this comment on your blog. Those smarphone designers and engineers can come up with as many blueprints as they possibly can but if they don’t have people to do the tedious job of putting all the pieces together. . .

    Let’s learn to be grateful. And tolerant.

    Thank you for this great post, Mr. Barnat. All the best for your project.

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