9:05 am
Starbucks: 2nd St and Covina: Belmont Shore

Another overcast day in Long Beach in December. It’s cool out and the light is flat. There is water still on the ground from a rain a couple of days ago. Everything around tells us that a slow start isn’t an uncommon thing amongst everyone at the Starbucks where we’re meeting. After grabbing a coffee to get things moving a little faster we went to get our third word. Tension.

Tension – we can handle that. It should be easy, so we started our timer, sat down and looked up the meaning to make sure we think of all the possible angles.

The act of stretching. The state of being stretched or strained. Mental or emotional strain. This is going to be an easy one. Just looking up and down the street, we could see things that held tension. So we sat a bit more and enjoyed the leisurely start to our day.

The time came to get some images captured, so Eric grabbed his camera and turned it on. Shit! After processing and editing a job from yesterday’s shoot, the memory cards got left at Eric’s computer workstation. We have a camera, but no cards to capture anything. We let 20 minutes slip by and had time for him to drive home and get the cards, but we put one rule in place that prevented us from doing that – we can go anywhere on foot, but cannot drive anywhere else to complete our project. We are stuck with our iPhones and a timer running out on us.

We spy a Rite Aid down the street and figure it’s got compact flash cards to buy, so we run up there and find only mini SD cards. The FroMex photo lab is down the other direction few blocks, so off we go to only find that it’s not open until 10am, which would only leave us with 17 minutes after that to shoot. We had no other choice, so we decided to find what we could capture with our phones and then hit the photo lab at 10. Talk about tension.

All of a sudden, we are seeing tension all around us. We are walking faster, taking more in and overall, just feeling a rush that not even caffeine can supply.

10:00 am came and we grabbed a 2GB compact flash card for our final 17 minutes. The reconnaissance we did while we waited paid off. We captured image after image of the tension all around us. And quickly filled up the 2GB card. Now we had to trash images so we could fit better ones on. Great. Editing and shooting all in less than a half hour.

As we approached the end of our session, we came across a street musician, Johnny. As Johnny played his guitar, Eric removed image after image so he could capture this lifetime of tension that sat before us. We both instantly knew that Johnny’s passion in how he played was the result of a lifetime that hadn’t always been easy. The lines in his face were a testament to this. The way they converged into each other created a tension all their own. However, in contrast to all this, his music had an uplifting effect on us as we ended our time together. We both knew we had captured our image after all the things that went wrong this morning. Thanks, Johnny.


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