On a Palm Sunday years ago, I was walking the streets of New Orleans with my camera and Donna, the woman who would later become my wife. It was my early days of photography and I was shooting film with my traditional Canon Rebel. As we were walking through the French Quarter, we passed a man on the sidewalk who caught my eye.
Standing about 6 feet tall, he had salt and pepper dreadlocks, tattoos all over his face and arms, and earlobes so stretched from ear gauges that they split in two. He smelled like week-old smoked hemp. I could barely see his blue eyes behind his squinting. I knew I had to photograph him.
Donna was quite surprised that without warning I approached him and asked if I could take his photograph.
He was initially reluctant, but said that he would do so if he could take a picture with Donna, who was standing innocently by my side with palms in her hand. He would also oblige for a few dollars, so I handed him some and started snapping away. He was quite comfortable in front the camera, posing with a bit of a swagger and a slight smile revealing pride in either being a worthy photographic subject or in the fact that he just scored some easy scratch from a silly tourist.
After a few minutes, he quickly seemed to have had his fill of his brief solo modeling career and grabbed Donna, put his arm around her, squeezed her shoulder tight, and smiled for the camera. Donna, red-faced with embarrassment and the man’s pungent smell, laughed nervously as I took a few more shots. He leaned down to kiss her on the cheek for a few more shots.
Afterwards, he bid us goodbye and walked away along the sidewalk. I told Donna how good a sport she was and apologized for having her go through that. I teasingly asked how it felt for him to kiss her on the cheek. She looked at me shocked of my ignorance and exclaimed, “Are you kidding me?! He tried to shove his tongue down my throat!”