Wednesday, January 10, 2007


Yesterday I overheard a couple of teenagers at the drugstore. They were behind me in a virtually still line.

"Dude, that'll make you puke!"

"I know. That's why we have to do it outside."

I stood there, wondering exactly what they were talking about, wishing I'd thought to listen to the part before the puke. I turned around and looked at them, friendly-like. I noticed the kid immediately behind me was buying a box of Gravol. Curiouser and curiouser.

And, because I'm nosy, I asked.

I chuckled and said, "I'm dying to know what came before the Dude, that'll make you make you puke..."

He looked mildly uncomfortable but not really (god, I'm a wrinklie buying diapers now, not a peer), and said, "Oohh, just a drinking game."

I was mildly disappointed. Seems teenagers today are doing the exact same stuff I did when I was a teenager. I was expecting something weird involving prescription drugs and alcohol and rituals under the moon. (Oh... that is still like my teenage behaviour.) Then again, maybe he just said whatever he thought would get the wrinklie to stop talking to him.

* * *

I've been noticing that there are some really interesting characters hanging out downtown in the afternoon. And the other day, I noticed some interesting teenagers smoking outside a local drop-in for at-risk teens. Yesterday, I decided to try people shooting. Which is not so violent as it sounds, but it WAS scary as hell, and really stretched my comfort zone, especially with little Swee'pea in the stroller in front of me.

Still, I learned a lot.

Lesson 1: I've been noticing strangers smile at me a lot as we pass each other on the street. Even more than the usual what a cute baby smiles, which mostly come from other women or older men. No, lately, even young men have been smiling at me. It's been very confusing. Then yesterday I figured out why.

why strangers smile at me

He's funny looking. They're laughing that his mama dresses him funny. Is it cruel for me to take him out looking like this? The thing is, this suit is the warmest and biggest of the four snowsuits we have. That's why I dress him in it. But I can't explain that to every passerby.

Lesson 2: Most people notice you taking their picture, but they don't quite have enough hubris to really believe that you're actually taking a picture of them. Mostly they look curiously at you but don't say anything.

hangin out

Sometimes they even smile.

smoke in a doorway

I wish I'd gotten closer for this one, but from where I was I couldn't tell if they were smiling or sneering angrily.

Lesson 3: Cocky teenagers will not hesitate to demand what the hell you're doing. This makes my mouth go dry and my hands shake.

Closely related Lesson 4: Do not try to take surreptitious pictures in a mall, even if it looks brightly lit. The flash will fire and people will notice.


The guy on the left demanded, "What are you doing taking our picture without our permission?" My mouth went dry and my hands started to shake. "I can delete it if you want. It's just for fun..." Another of the guys piped up, "Aw, he's just kidding." And they went back to whatever they were doing. My knees shimmied a little as I walked away.

huddle at court

I think I'm happiest with this candid shot. Clearly badasses. ;)

Other people get immediately suspicious and angry whenever a camera is pointed in their general direction, even if I'm trying to look like I'm shooting other stuff.

mean dude

Also, pictures of people walking towards or by you are not interesting shots. It's generally not worth it. Better to go after people just sitting or standing or whatever. I can't help but suspect these people are criminals or deadbeat daddies or something, imagining that I'm gonna shop them to the police or their exes or something. (Shit. Does that make me a judgmental asshole?)

man looking in jewellry store window

Looking in a jewellry store window. He spent a fair amount of time looking in the window. He would start to move away, then move back again, as if he couldn't resist.

It was until I got home that I noticed the couple in the background just about to kiss.

Next time I'm gonna try just shooting from my chest instead of bringing the camera up to my eye.

Still and all... my favourite shots from yesterday still don't involve people.


pillars of light


nomotherearth said...

Wow, and Wow (!) to the pictures. I love the people shots. If you don't want to get harrassed, you should go all "Veronica Mars" and get a zoom lens.

Actually, that last building shot is one of my faves. The lighting is fab!

BTW....Wrinklie???? Ha! Ha!

Beck said...

Gorgeous photos! People smile at babies a lot, and I really tend to dress mine outlandishly, too - mothering small people is HARD and believe me, you don't get to dress them oddly for very long. Enjoy it!

Beck said...

Oh- I'm going to email you a good, fairly failsafe cake recipe, okay?

bubandpie said...

That snowsuit ROCKS! Really - it's just awesome. (And if you're a wrinklie, what does that make me?)

mamatulip said...

I love the pics. The candids and especially that last one.

Her Bad Mother said...

I LOVE IT. I love this post, I love the photos, I loved that you asked those kids what you did.


Oh, The Joys said...

I love your photos and your guts. I am too shy to take portrait shots of strangers, but I SO want to.

Nancy said...

I really love your pictures and the stories that go with them.

Mad Hatter said...

The snow suit's great but the shoes are pure gray. The photos are really wonderful and if you are a wrinkly and BubandPie is what ever BubandPie is, then I am nigh on dead.

jen said...

Sin. what a great post. I love the pics. I love cocky teenagers. I worked in a group home years ago for drug addicted juvenile offender teen age girls...woohoo.

and then once in a while we'd get them to dance around to the Grease soundtrack, like the little precious girls they were...and it was one of the most beautiful things i've ever seen.

Anonymous said...

Amazing, amazing photos. And the snowsuit really does rock. Those young men only wish they had you to choose their clothing for THEM.

gingajoy said...

i LOVE the leopard print snowsuit--and yes, i think it would elicit a smile or two.

photos are gorgeous--and that confrontation would scare the shit out of me too.

Mad Hatter said...

"gravy"; of course I meant gravy

cinnamon gurl said...

LOL, Mad. I was trying to figure out what you meant all morning... I was like, hmmm, I kinda thought those boots were the opposite of gray. Maybe she meant gay? But that doesn't sound like Mad... So she must have been using gray ironically, but huh???

Thanks for clarifying. ;)

theflyingmum said...

Wow! I think I must visit this blog more often. I am totally envious of your ballsiness for taking all those photos - esp. of wretched teenagers! I was once a substitute teacher of said teenagers and they still scare the bejeezes out of me. But I'd better get over it, right? In 9 more years I'll have one living right under my nose!

Naomi (Urban Mummy) said...

Love the photos...looks like you had such fun!!

And as for the way you dressed your babe in the stroller...I would do the same. Seriously. Nothing beats animal prints!!

ewe are here said...

Great pics!

I especially like that last one, too -- the columns.

We take a lot of pics, but I haven't tried taking pics of strangers. I'm not sure how I would react if I was confronted while doing it; probably shake a bit as well...

Heather said...

If you were taking pictures around an Ontario court of justice it's a safe bet most of them were criminals. Don't worry, the really bad ones are usually behind glass, and I've worked with them for years and never been bitten. The youths usually have this great angstiness, as your pictures show.