I’ve made several trips to England & Europe; some of them just for photo opportunities. There are so many chances to take the usual “touristy” photos but sometimes my mind wanders to the less obvious.
I love taking pictures of tourists taking pictures. I don’t like the usual gritty street photography look but I love to see people doing the normal things of life. Street markets are a huge thing in France and this market in Paris fascinated me enough that I returned several times during my visit.
I couldn’t help think about U.S. shoe stores and the excruciating experience some people seem to have picking out just the rights shoe. This Parisian walked up to the stall, plopped one show not to he concrete, slipped her foot into it and that was all it took. Sale!There’s something wonderful about that kind of decisive behavior! A person has to know what they want in order to be that decisive. To know it deep down in your soul, or psyche, or whatever you want to call that inner recess of wisdom that comes from living and paying attention to what’s been happening to you along the way. We don’t all do that. Some of us live the same life over year after year, struggling with the same decisions, making the same mistakes — even when they know they are mistakes.
I’ve mentioned in the past that when it comes to shopping I’m a buyer, not a shopper. I rarely go to a store or a mall just to look around and see what’s there. On a macro scale you, I and everyone else know what’s there to be bought: a lot of stuff, most of which we don’t really need. Oh the colors might change from year to year (Peggy’s looking for blue and yellow curtains to go with a Provencal tablecloth we have and she’s not finding them!) but the basics are there year, after year.
Maybe that’s why we rarely attend flea markets — neither one of us is much into looking for things we might want to buy. Somehow a city street market is different from the normal “idea” of what a flea market might be. You go for your daily needs. Not so much on a whim as on necessity. For today’s supper. To replace that dress that tore last night. In search of a spray of flowers for the dinner table.
My grandmother made her rounds up and down Mitchell Street in Milwaukee every day, with a cloth shopping bag in her hand, into which she put her shopping finds of the day. Enough food for the day and whatever she might need for any projects she had in mind. Peg & I typically shop once weekly for groceries. It’s become habit — but then we’re 12 miles from the grocery, not 4 blocks. We talk about where we might like to settle when we do move back North to Wisconsin — we’ve always known we would at some point. And there’s this idea that doesn’t want to fade from our imagination that we could live close enough to a grocery to be able to walk. I doubt that will ever happen — and maybe that’s why this image of someone walking through an open air market, of them finding precisely what they want, and walking away with their happy “find” makes me feel good. It’s not about the picture; it’s about the idea that even today there can be simple, easy choices if only we will allow them.