The day before I knocked on the door and persuaded a caught-off-guard Kelly to let me spend time with her husband and her newborn baby, I parked my car in a cul-de-sac in McDonough, walked to the front door and was promptly greeted by David and Melissa. Unlike Kevin and Kelly, this couple was expecting me.
“What do you need pictures of?” they asked. “How can we help you?”
“Just go about and do whatever you need to do,” I answered. “I’m here to make pictures of what you’re doing today, so I’ll just be a fly on the wall and you can completely ignore me.”
And that is exactly what happened.
The reporter met David at a government jobs fair and decided to feature him in an unemployment article. David has been unemployed for about a year since January 2009 — with a few three-month stints here and there — and I was sent to make some pictures. Expectations, I later learned, were not high.
So, for the first time ever, I walked into somebody’s home, became invisible and made pictures of everyday life. For almost three hours.
Coincidentally, in those almost-three hours, David received two important phone calls: He got an offer for a job interview, and a traffic attorney finally called him back.
Many of the people I’ve photographed — in public, at their workplaces, wherever — have been extremely self- or camera-conscious, which makes my job a little more difficult. I was very pleasantly surprised that David and his family were completely comfortable and okay around me. They didn’t ignore me altogether — I asked them questions, they asked me questions, we chatted — but they never tried to make their house look cleaner or make themselves look better or do anything to change the environment. Especially since this was my first time as a photographer in someone else’s home, this was wonderful.
And it was a good exercise in becoming a fly on the wall in someone else’s home, too. The next day, I did it again. And the next Monday, I did it again (for a story that I’ll post in a few weeks).
Thanks to David and Melissa for being so warm and welcoming, and for immediately understanding that I needed to capture them in their candid, everyday life.