The image is very dark, I took it in my early student years on my secondhand nikon fg in 1995. I was walking through Harvard Square and as usual there was a street band playing to the side of Out Of Town Newsstand. This elderly lady dressed in a blouse and skirt with a large purse began dancing in slow, deliberate movements. She had such an intensity about her, I felt drawn to her and a bit weary at the same time. Her dancing was almost primitive and when she got on her knee and her stocking was exposed I knew she must be suffering from some kind of dementia. I was a kid, I didn’t know what I could do. So I shot her with my camera, wanting to capture the moment. I had only one shot left on my roll of film. It had to be the right moment. I didn’t have time to fiddle with the exposure. I developed it in my student darkroom.
It was probably selfish of me, it was certainly exploitive. I can be a bit ruthless behind the lens although I’ve never had the gumption to go into a person’s face on the street and shoot a very intimate portrait. I’m of the sneaky variety. My aim has never been to brutalize anyone with my camera or make anyone ugly. I actually love people’s faces and the stories I imagine about them when I see someone who is interesting to me. I still wonder about this lady today (who must not be of this world any longer by now) and if she would have minded the photograph. In her state she was so visceral and lost in the moment. She danced without self consciousness. I don’t know what I could have done to help her then. Maybe now I’d take her for a cup of tea and ask her for her address? Maybe I’d just walk away. I still would have snapped her picture.