If you think about it, cameras can serve a multitude of purposes. Obviously, they can be used to chronicle special moments in the photographer’s life, or someone else’s life. They frequently are used to capture images of scenic vistas that one has not seen before and might never see again.
But cameras can be so much more. In the wrong hands they can be a tool of annoyance. Don’t believe me? Just take an unflattering photo of someone and slap it on Facebook for the “world” to see. Cameras in the right hands can also be used to make people appear far more handsome or beautiful than they do ordinarily.
During my recent vacation to the Charleston, S.C., area, I used my cameras to record both special family moments and an assortment of memorable land and ocean scenes. But they also filled another role, serving as a bridge between myself and other people.
From the ocean-front house that we spent a week In, on most afternoons we were treated to a spectacle known as kitesurfing. These athletes stand on a board and are harnessed to a large, controllable kite. They use the kite to catch the ocean breezes which propels them and their board across the water.
While most of the kitesurfers were simply content to glide back and forth, one afternoon a man appeared attached to a kite whose exploits had land lovers like me standing drop-jawed in amazement. This kitesurfer would not only skim across the ocean, he would occasionally hit a wave just right and propel himself a good 30 feet or more into the air.
While I’d photographed kitesurfers on a previous trip to Isle of the Palms, I couldn’t resist taking images of this talented individual. Apparently he spied me taking photos as he came into shore to ask if I would share some of my images of him. Without my cameras, I would have never met this talented man, who turned out being a local attorney who took up the sport as a stress reliever.
My most interesting camera acquaintanceship was yet to be made. It happened one morning after I’d gotten up early to reach the Charleston oceanfront in order to take photos of the rising sun.
As I stood on a pier taking photos, I was approached by two men, one of whom had started chattering at me when I first came within earshot.
The younger of the two, who was probably in his late teens or early 20s, just stood and smiled while his companion, who I guess was in his 50s, rattled on about a multitude of subjects.
“I’m homeless. I get stuff out of the trash to eat, but that doesn’t bother me,” said the man, who held a skateboard under one arm and a plastic bag in the other. “I always bring something I find down to feed the birds.”
Shifting gears, he bragged that he has a wide assortment of jokes, some suitable for the entire family and some not. He mentioned with pride that one of his jokes had been printed in the Charleston newspaper.
Not only was this gentleman a comedienne, he claimed to be a rap singer of note.
“Someone recorded one of my songs and put it on YouTube. I’ve been told it’s had over 250,000 views,” he beamed.
Before we parted company, he asked if I would take a photo of him and his companion, who still hadn’t spoken a word. I was more than happy to oblige.
“Don’t forget me,” he shouted as I walked away.
It will be hard to forget Benjamin King, but if I ever do I’ll always have a photo to jog my memory.