Often when I travel, I enjoy observing people. I like to walk around and just watch what they are doing, wonder what are they thinking and somehow I’ll try relate to their daily lives,dreams and struggles.
Last time I visited NYC, I made an experiment to stare at peoples eyes while walking in the streets of Manhattan. I noticed many would first be surprised, maybe of being noticed, maybe feeling uncomfortable or just because the eye contact would somehow reminds us, even if for a split of a second, that we are all the same.
There are some strangers that have left an imprint on me, specially when I look through my pictures from the places I’ve visited. This old gentleman was sleeping in the streets of Meatpacking District Manhattan when I took this picture. I was touched by the sad reality of being homeless. It was a cold autumn day and the idea of him not having a place to go really made my heart heavy.
I was walking on the old cobblestone streets of Prague when I noticed this old lady working on the back of this ancient church, caring for the plants on a garden with the a beautiful Virgin Mary statue in the center. I stood there observing her for a while. I could sense all her love and kindness, probably centered by her faith, which touched me deeply. She noticed my presence and we made eye contact for a moment, smiling at each other. I took the picture and left. That was a moment of beauty and connection.
When I visited Paris, I was amazed to see all the artists sitting around drawing, painting and sketching. I noticed this beautiful lady sitting on the Jardin de Plantes in a beautiful sunny spring morning, the flowers were blooming everywhere, the nature colors were bright, that scene looked like a painting. I stood there for a while, contemplating, in a total state of awe. Eventually she noticed me, we smiled at each other and she went back to her drawing. I took this picture and left. What an fantastic moment.
If there is a picture that could represent time, this would be it : a lifetime of struggles. Love. Hardship. Companionship. All showing here. This was at the Essaouira port in Morocco. While I stood there observing them, waiting for the right moment to take this picture, I couldn’t help but to imagine what would their real story be? I will never know. But they looked at me, probably wondering the same.
I saw her in the streets of Chinatown Montreal. She was probably in her 70’s, talking on the phone having a very argumentative conversation in Chinese. I first noticed all the odds and ends on the floor, which she was trying to sell hoping to make some money. I wondered: what’s her story? When did she get here and from where? Why is she struggling today ? My thoughts were just an open question. She didn’t acknowledge my presence. I took this picture and left.
For all the strangers that I can remember, the ones that I have somehow made eye contact or taking their picture, the ones that noticed me and the ones that didn’t, I can certainly relate to them.
We are all here, we all have the same DNA. We love, we lost, we hustle trying to survive, one way or another. We are all the same, either we accept it or not. I carry some of them somehow. I was touched by their sight and that is, without a question, a beautiful thing.