Last June, in Paris.
It was the last part of my trip, during which I attended a 80k people music festival and even worse, I had went to Brussels (j/k). Anyway, it was my first time in Paris after a long time and my first time by myself. I had walked all around the city all day, taking photos. I was quite exhausted, my shoes and jeans still looked dirty from the festival, I had sunburns and I had a longish beard. So, I looked a bit like a homeless guy. A hobo with a Hasselblad, to be precise.
To conclude a whole day of walking around, I had bought myself a bottle of wine, a baguette and some cheese with intentions of sitting down in a park watching the sunset. Before finding a suitable spot, I took my time around Jardin de Luxembourg, taking more photos. I've got to tell you, no matter how you look, if you have a Hasselblad 500C/M in your hand, people will compliment. Not you specifically, usually the camera. Even people who have no idea what it is come down to you and say something. It has happened to me countless times and probably around 20 times just on that day.
So finally I sat down in a bench, put the camera inside the bag, took the wine&cheese out and began drinking by myself. Now without the camera, there is just about no way anyone would've guessed that I'm actually not a homeless person. Even the bag is one of those ThinkTank green canvas bags so it adds to the look. Not that I care. I'm just happy that I can finally take photography out of my mind and enjoy the wonderful combination of wine&bread&cheese. I don't even want to look at a camera for a while.
And here comes a guy, smiling towards me. I've seen that smile many times, even I have put on that smile a few times. It's the friendly-faced, may I take a picture of you look. Of course, he is not French and he doesn't speak the language (neither do I) and he assumes most people in France can't/won't speak English neither. So he tries the next sensible option and treats me as a caveman. Lots of signs, noises, wine, good wine? Showing the camera, click click noise. I give him a quick and excited nod.
He stands relatively close, sets his 28-135 or whatever equivalent lens on his m4/3 Panasonic to probably around 35-50mm equivalent and shoots. Brings the camera back to me to show off this amazing machine from future, capable of stealing one's soul into a two dimensional bright screen behind the camera. Should I act scared or amazed? He says good photo? Beautiful picture?
Oh it's good, I say to him, looking at the stopped down aperture number below the screen. As he was still trying to process the fact that I'm not bad at speaking English at all, I give him some instructions. Now could you please take further steps back, zoom your lens all the way in, open up the aperture and bend down a bit so you get a better perspective, closer to the ground? At the same time, I'll change my pose slightly so my face gets the light a bit better. He is surprised by the reaction he got from me and it turns into a small shock when he goes and takes the picture.
He flips back and forth between two photos, walks back to me and says yours turned out to be much better. I say thank you, yours is not so bad neither. Should I give him my A7 with the 135/2.8? Shall I let him take my spot at the bench and bring out the Hasselblad? Naah, I'm far too comfy. Also, I had sat down to not to think about photography for a few hours, remember?