I walk around the neighborhood a lot, usually with my camera. Sometimes I catch myself wishing I were in a more exotic place but often I’m just happy to be outside with my camera. Some of my most cherished photos were found within blocks of home. The ritual of regularly making images in the neighborhood is a good reminder that familiarity can dull the senses. Every exotic place can become mundane if you’ve been there long enough.
On my regular routes there are several old cars. About six of them. They are always parked in the exact-same spots. Either their owners lover their routines as much as I do or the cars haven’t been started up in awhile. This has me thinking.
I want to know more about these lovely old machines and their owners. The cars, even when in decay, have so much proud character. They defy aging, laugh in the face of rust and the old leaves that are attempting to render them into compost. These old cars are now dear friends to me. I stop, say hello, and photograph them. I want them to know that I care.
One car has a chrome-plated jet as its hood ornament. Another always has golden leaves stuffed up in its windshield wipers. A green Impala seems to be forever waiting for its owner outside the post office. I suspect its driver works inside. There is an old emerald truck with almost-flat tires, its rust ever invading the old, faded paint. It grows lovelier with every storm, its tired finish renewed to a glisten with every raindrop.
I see these cars as living sculpture, art pieces that have seen many miles and are now tired yet still alive. I’ve never seen one of them actually move, yet I’d recognize them instantly if I saw them around town. I hope they are here as long as I am.
I often wonder what the neighbors think as I stop and photograph the old beauties. Do they see the cars as eyesores? Do they wonder who I am and if I’m some kind of nut? Maybe they love them as much as I do which is why the old cars are still on the street despite their condition. Maybe they say, “There’s that old photographer again—I wonder who’ll go first, him or that old car.” I figure I have a lot of miles left so they shouldn’t hold their breathe.