A few months ago now I was driving back to Canberra from Sydney, when I stopped in at Pheasants Nest for a coffee and some snakes to get me through the rest of the night time drive home. I had driven up the same morning and while it's not a long drive, doubling up in one day with some running around in between can make it a long day.
I saw this couple sitting in the rest spot. They were in each others' arms, smoking cigarettes, kissing and laughing. They had such an aura of love an affection for one another I was immediately drawn to, and interested in them.
I still get nervous when approaching strangers with the intention to photograph them. There is inherently something about the act that doesn't sit totally comfortably with me, but usually I am pleased when I have the courage to introduce myself to someone I don't know because more than photography it is the act of meeting, talking, connecting and growing in a small way from such an encounter that really makes me believe in what I do.
Most of the photographs I make are pretty bad. Most of the photographs any photographer makes are pretty bad, the fact is that we only usually get to see the 'good' ones. I made four photos of this couple. I didn't ask them to kiss, that was their idea. During the seconds it took to make these four photographs I felt a rush of excitement, a connection, not only to these people, but to people in general. Their display of openness towards the camera, to me, was a show of trust and acceptance, of me watching them, and of themselves. I have a very positive feeling when I look at these photographs.
We introduced ourselves (their names I did not record) and I handed them a business card. I asked them to email me and I would send them to the photo. The business card went down the bra and we said our goodbyes.
I went in to the servo and bought my coffee and snakes. When I came out the couple was gone. That is itself stunned me, as if their presence alone had given the place something special.
As photographers sometimes we think we can offer people something by showing them to themselves in a picture. But I think that some people aren't interested in what photographs by others mean. I have not yet received an email from the couple, and I may never receive one. I believe this couple actually gave me more than I gave them that night at the servo at Pheasants Nest. And by not asking for a copy of the photo, I like to think they knew it too.