During Charles Traub’s lecture entitled “The Sweet Way,” I found the story behind his book lunchtime interesting and the idea of whether or not it could be duplicated again in modern day intrigued me.
When he was first started showing the pictures in the book, I was surprised that he had asked before taking all of them because they did not look posed, and in some cases if the person being photographed was the first to look at the picture they probably would not have thought that it was a wonderful picture of themselves. Since the pictures were not taken in a studio but instead on the street, during his lunchtime break, the backgrounds, which were mainly in cities but were also on some beaches, of the picture seemed to be just as important to the picture as the people he was photographing. For example one pair of pages contained images of similar looking redheads while another pair of pictures had people who looked dissimilar, but the photos appeared to have been taken with the person in the exact same spot. It was also surprising that it was not obvious which city the picture was taken in until after he informed us.
It was surprising how much he guessed about the backstory of some of the people, and how confident he seemed that his guesses were correct. He seemed to know, or at least thought he knew, the backstory of almost everyone he photographed. This surprised me because he never interviewed any of them, and all he had to guess what their history was is based off one interaction and a photo.
I was also fascinated by the idea that he preferred to take pictures of ordinary people, and even when given the chance, he passed up the opportunity to take pictures of multiple famous people. He made an interesting comment about how when he was looking for people to photograph, his main purpose was to find people who looked interesting, and he was once so focused on looking at interesting individuals to take pictures of, he almost did not recognize his own mother.
The discussion on whether this could be done again was very interesting, and although points were made that may seem like it could be possible, the way in which it would be done would still be quite different. He said that when he asked people if he could take their picture they seemed flattered, and he was only turned away once, but the consensus of the room was that if this project were done again today the majority of people you tried to photograph would be suspicious. Although when he did it he was just dressed nicely and only had a tripod for his camera, even if you looked the part with multiple cameras and lenses people would think you had an ulterior motive for taking a picture of them which would lead to photos that would not be nearly as relaxed as the ones of the people he took pictures of and to much more rejections then he encountered.