Thursday, January 20, 2011

Maybe Somebody

"No offense," a nice gentleman told me recently, "you're impressive, but you're nobody."

I laughed. I tried to look on the bright side. Impressive was a nice compliment, no matter that it was followed by the huge insult, the huge insult that is both true and untrue.

Of course, I'm somebody. The way The Doors were somebodies before their band took off, before photographer Henry Diltz took the photo above and the one of the group in the window of The Morrison Hotel, a famous photo for which the cool Soho gallery he co-founded is named. I visited there today to find inspiration, and gave the friendly staff gold stars.

We are all somebodies. Only in hindsight can there be a line between when "somebody" still somewhat inconspicuous becomes a "Somebody" people have heard of and even speak of in common parlance. John Dos Passos captures this idea well in his U.S.A. trilogy, which follows a variety of people's stories at the turn of the century, regular people like a boy who liked to build whose name was Frank Lloyd Wright.

Photographers are gamblers of a sort, gambling that their subjects might rise to fame and fortune and, with them, the value of the photograph taken of them, the quick flash of a moment back in time.

"Are you going to be famous?" Isak Tiner, the photographer I met in a cafe and hired to take my photo for this blog asked before he trained his camera on me.

I laughed then, just like I did at the man who said I was nobody. "Maybe," I said, "one never knows."

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