I’ve always loved the blues, especially when strong emotions are expressed through the harmonica. I even picked one up and tried to teach myself to play, however, I don’t possess the talent for music.
Street festivals populate many summer weekends in Ferndale, our favorite little suburb of Detroit, and in late September 2015 I had just picked up a lovely Olympus OM-1 to help teach myself how to properly work a camera. I was shooting my way through the second roll during one of these festivals when I came across ‘Dirty Dog’ playing his harmonicas. At first I didn’t have the nerve to photograph him as I was new to the idea of street photography, but the intrigue was too great.
A little while later I found him again and stopped to listen to him play as he was very good. I struck up a conversation over blues and the harmonica. He told me how he use to be in a punk band, but now plays at festivals and outside Kroger for tips due to an accident that paralyzed him.
He gave me permission to photograph him and while I did he played House of the Rising Sun, one of the songs I tried so hard to learn. I took only three frames, feeling any more would have been overstepping some imaginary bounds, and, excitedly, this one was in proper focus. This photograph is still one of my favorites from the past three years of taking photography seriously.