"Smile for the birdie..." And...snap. Phrank the photographer dreamed as a kid that he'd be hiking in Yosemite or far-away regions of East Africa, shooting surreal sunsets and lions playing poker. He went on that Africa adventure and snapped his photos—but he just couldn't get paid for it. He ended up in a department store, shooting bratty kids for fifteen dollars an hour. But he still dreams.
These days, Phrank shoots in a corporate portrait studio and keeps his aspiring independent photographer dreams alive in his spare time. His "thing" is taking shots of ordinary people set against extraordinary backdrops—a couple of tourists peering over the Grand Canyon, or a hiker schlepping along in front of the San Gabriel Mountains, or a soccer mom in David Beckham's bedroom (that shoot got a little weird).
He wakes whenever he feels like it, rationalizing to himself that there's a mood or a rhythm he wants to tap into, and it'll tell him when to haul his bony butt out of bed.
Today, that special mood doesn't strike until 11:00AM (no studio work today). Phrank eats, grabs his camera, and heads out the door by noon. He takes shots of whatever moves him, especially if it's one of those situations where something extraordinary comes out of otherwise ordinary scenery.
Phrank wanders downtown for a while, where he gets a good shot of an old lady on a park bench feeding pigeons and a less-good shot of an almost-crash involving a cab and a delivery truck. Phrank had his camera out as soon as he saw that the potential accident might happen, so he got a shot off, but the edges were blurred from his quick setup. Plus, the cars didn't even hit each other. Bummer.
At 4:00PM, he meets with a friend of a friend who has a friend who owns an art gallery and might be willing to showcase his work. "Showcase" means Phrank pays for the three-by-four-foot black-and-white prints, frames them, and signs them. If he showcases, it'll end up costing him a few hundred bucks (half a month's rent), in hopes that someone will come to the gallery and pay $1,000 for one of his pictures.
He shows some of his photos to the gallery owner. "Ode to a Yak" is a somehow poignant photo of a homeless man vomiting up his dinner behind a dumpster in an alley. Yes, it's gross—but you should see the vividness of the colors. The vomit is captured in high def as it comes out and is framed beautifully. Phrank has talent.
The gallery owner looks over his portfolio and comments that Phrank's photos are good, but he might be lacking the "it" factor. He smiles and says, "I'll be in touch." Translation: "Lose my phone number."
At 5:30PM, Phrank heads down to Venice Beach and sets up a booth, doing his best to sell some of his latest work. Lately he's been making some sales on a few recent shots: "Smog over Santa Ana," "Garbage Can Fire," and "What Do You Think This Is?" He sells a twelve-dollar postcard that cost him seven bucks to make, two small photos, and some prints, totaling sixty bucks for the day's work.
Phrank has to close it up by 6:30PM, however, as he has a second (or third, depending on how you look at it) job working the night shift at Buddha's Belly restaurant in Santa Monica. He makes pretty good tips—certainly more than he's making from his photography. But he holds out hope, and keeps snapping away. One day, he'll hit the big time—he's sure of it.