Smoking Man

Watching a rather inane street performer, his lips curled in contempt (or, perhaps, naturally), he maintained an unblinking stare--this smoking man of Arbat.  Of course, his eyes were concealed by his sunglasses and his "Lenin" cap, but, for some reason, I was convinced of it.

And as he watched on, I watched him, admittedly pleased that I could detect his smoke through my viewfinder. Then I took a second to review the existent photos, and pointed the camera back up. 

He was gone. 

Arbat: the Good, the Bad, and the Really Expensive

When it comes to Moscow, Old Arbat is a busy tourist "paradise" brimming with kitschy "folk," akin to those in other foreign metropolises. And, as such, it makes many Russians themselves feel discomfort (conscious or otherwise) at the idea of Tradition within a rather wild consumer space.

But it is precisely this quality that makes it an ideal place for photographing strangers, or what I call "the City." After all, there are the slowly walking, sometimes awkward foreigners ready to blow too much money on souvenirs that are not worth it, snooty rich Russians dressed like a single, combined high-end brand advertising heading into Starbucks for their triple macchiato, street artists forced to draw pointless Hollywood celebrities to showcase their technical skills (those of the artists', not the celebrities!), on and on and on.

Certainly,  I post a lot of nature and wildlife imagery, and my commission work often involves conceptual editorial photography. Yet, documentary images of people are one of my favorite subjects to pursue. (When I used to draw regularly, I preferred realistic portraiture, not much different from the aforementioned street artists.)

On a number of recent occasions, it happened to be Kabuki-cho in Shinjuku (Tokyo)--a delightfully trashy area--that provided excellent opportunities for "stalking the City." (Now that I think about it, I've also done the same in Nagoya and Hakodate, sans the "trash.") So when I went to Old Arbat the other day, I felt a bit like a sniper with my telephoto lens targeting certain characters I encountered in the act of, well, being themselves. 

Needless to say, I cannot wait to process the images! In the meantime, here are some mobile shots of Arbat tourism.