So I was initially planning on going to a school event, and was initially dissapointed when I went to get a ticket and they were sold out, but now I am so glad that everything worked out the way it did. I'm sure it would have been tons of fun to go and see people, but instead, I called up my friend who saved my life and asked if he wanted to hang out (for the first time since the accident).
We were trying to think of ideas of what to do, and I told him I had already been planning to do a photo-journalistic essay of the "Motels of Colfax", an essay to highlight the terrible living conditions on a sketchy street infamous for prostitution that I live near a part of (I don't live by one of the overly sketchy parts, but there are some really fauking sketchy parts), and he could drive me and we could just hang out. The essay was originally going to be open to interpretation, but, I was secretly going for just showing the interesting visual motels of colfax, because many of them were designed in the 50's/60's, and they look pretty throwback, which is cool. But this changed.
We got to our (roughly) 7th one, and I was just doing exteriors of one of the doors. A woman came up to us, and asked what was going on. I explained it as we were doing a photo essay on the living conditions, and she said, "you can't do an essay on the living conditions unless you see the inside of one of these things. wanna see the inside of mine?".
I was really uncomfortable with prospect at first. A stranger woman inviting me, with over 3 grand of camera equipment, into a sketchy part of colfax motel room. So I talked to her first for about ten minutes. She seemed really nice, I had a friend with me, and we together had a pocket knife and a can of pepper spray, so I decided it'd not only severely benefit what I was doing, but it'd be amazing for the essay I was doing.
We went in. She was right, it was terrible. The bed was on the floor, there were leaks in the ceiling, she showed us the incredibly poor condition of the bathroom. She explained she had an incident with a guy desperately trying to get into her room, leading to him throwing himself through the window, forcing her to live in a motel room without even a window, and she was being forced to pay for the damages.
I feel not only really bad about this next part, but also a little bit misogynistic, and I apologize for this. The main reason I feel bad for saying it, is in case I'm wrong because I'm not 100% positive, but I suspect she was a prostitute, just based off a video interview I did with her. I asked if she wanted to say anything on video, and she explained the terrible conditions for about three minutes, but some of the things she said made me think she was a prosecute, but like I said, I'm not only ashamed of thinking this, but additionally not 100% sure.
(as a Libertarian, I believe there is nothing wrong with prostitution, and I support a woman's right to choose, but I don't get into politics here. I just still feel bad (like "im such an asshole for jumping to conclusions, this will keep me up for a while) for not knowing 100% and coming to that mental conclusion while talking to her.)
I ended up giving her some money at the end of the whole thing, just as a thank you, for the interesting opportunity. I only had ten bucks in my wallet, and I always need some emergency money, so I gave her 7 bucks, which I felt bad about, but I don't think she was even initially planning on getting money from us, so I HAVE CONFLICTIONS.
But I came out with (what I think are pretty damn good) pictures of the woman, the room, and a three minute video of her explaining the terrible conditions. She said she was cool with her being in the essay because it might help to raise Motel living condition standards, which I sort of want to make my goal now.
Aside from that I got some pretty brilliant (I'm letting myself be egotistical for once) shots of the exteriors of motels. It was close to sunset that we did all of this, so the lighting was interesting and pretty cool.
Let me tell you, it's days like these that I actually feel like a photographer. Especially days like these. I can take pictures of people's pets for money, or I can do portraiture for money, or even do exteriors of houses for money, but that doesn't lead me to feel like the photographer I did today. I usually hate calling myself a "good" photographer (because in comparison to good photographers, I'm not), and maybe I didn't take "good" photographs today, but I think I had a great work ethic, jumping on a probably rare opportunity, which yielded relatively "good" results. It just feels like more of a photo-journalistic, like a National Geographic thing (even though I know it's going to take years more of work and improvement to get even close to that level).
It was also difficult emotionally. Surprisingly, (brace yourself for sarcasm), watching/filming a stranger woman nearly start breaking down (but she was a strong woman and didn't even cry (but it looked like she was about to)) explaining the terrible living conditions she is forced to be in is mentally a little rough. I was really in the moment at the time, but, that's the kind of thing that stays with you and you think about late at night when you're alone. But that's real and that's ultimately one kind of photography I'm interested in doing when I'm older - photographing the darker side of humanity.
In the end, I hope I didn't get bedbugs from that motel room (a reminder of how privileged I am as a middle class teenager) and I cannot wait to continue this essay. I might upload progress, or I might just wait till I'm completely done and try to hit you guys hard with photography that actually has meaning for once.
As a bonus, my friend and I went to city park afterwards and light-painted for like, three hours haha. I even drew people having sex.