Woman and Sign, San Francisco | Mark Lindsay

The city, San Francisco or most any city, is full of small, fleeting treasures. Riches are everywhere—little vignettes of joy, intrigue, and ephemeral pleasure that compel me to click the shutter of my camera. Many are haphazard collections of life’s serendipity. Most affirm my belief that the cosmic powers that run this universe of ours have a very good sense of humor.

Finding these things requires a certain deftness, or at least the pretenses of such. I pretend to sneak around the city as if no one notices me. I imagine myself as one of my cats, stalking and tiptoeing and affecting disinterest. When my cats do this to me I almost always realize what they’re doing and I suspect the same is true with my street subjects. No one is fooling anyone and guy lurking around with a big camera is always suspect. I long for the days of spies, and their nifty camera devices that might be hidden in cigarette lighters or bow ties. Once you point a camera at a scene it all changes.

Recently I was on one of my urban adventures when I noticed a sign that had been painted onto a brick wall. It was of a gigantic hand pointing towards the left. It seemed to be one of these gems of which I write. I composed the frame in my viewfinder, aligning it all just so and then—a woman darted into the scene, juxtaposed from the giant hand and moving to the right. Click! There she was, a blur in my life, one of those mysterious beings that come and go without a word. I know not who she is, where she’d been or where she was going. But, she completed the picture for me as if it were all planned that way. With a smile, I thanked the cosmic powers of photography and slunk onward, like a cat on its toes.