It’s 210 am here. I just got back to my hotel room. I will not be able to sleep tonight. I have to be out of the hotel and onsite of a hunting club by 615 am. So I am going to try to some-up day two for everyone. Todqay I started my photography assignment, insearch of a gun culture on main street, USA, a small town, Liberty NY. This was no easy feat. Gaining access was the most difficult I have ever experienced, yet somehow I pulled it off. Originally, I looked at this topic as an outsider looking at gun culture as one of violence. I quickly realized, after talking to many people, including local law inforcement, that Liberty, NY has no gun violence, or gun crime. I was stuck, and worried. Now what? It was hard to believe that business owners didn’t have guns under the counters or strapped to their hip for protection, or in the car for hunting. I decided to find out. My first stope was a cab company. I went in and struck up conversation with the cab dispatcher. I asked if there was any record in his company of his cabbies be ingn held up at gun point. He had never heard of it. He also reinforced the fact that there is no gun probloems in the small NY town. Ok, next stop, came by accident. I stopped for water when a lady, crossing the street, walked up and askeed if I needed a store to photograph. She had no idea who I was,or what I was doing. She was extremely friendly. I explained the assignment. Before I could finish she was pulling me across the street into a meta physical store to introduce me to the owner.
At first the owner was hesitant to speak with me. I got the conversation going and she soon relaxed and opened up. This is where the project gets interesting, and my assignment shifts ina new direction. There was a time when this business owner considered buying as gun to keep in her store for protection. Her upstairs neighbors were drug dealers, and there were always shady characters hanging out in front of her store. After the drug dealers were evicted she decided not to go with the gun. When asked, she explained that she is a gun enthusiast, hunts, keeps guns in the house for protection and for hunting. She lives out in the boonies, so feels the need to keep the gun locked and loaded. She let me photograph and record audio of the interview.
She then directed me to another business owner down the street, antique business. She gave me a heads-up that he was retired NYPD, but not to mention it. I made my way down there and paid this guy a visit. He had no problem talking with me, but he would not allow me to photograph him or record the conversation. I would regret not pushing this more to get it. In the conversation he didn’t directly say that he was packing, but he did refer to shooting people if they broke into the store or threatened him. He was also the person who explained how a gun can be a tool, not a weapon.
Another interesting person that I spoke to who would not agree to be photographed or recorded was the liquor store clerk. I wish I could have captured the info. He told me that he had a gun. He said that if you have a liquor store in NY you have a gun!
As the rejection started to pile up I began to get frustrated. I decided tog o to the bar and have a drink. I figured that there are always interesting characters at the bar who love to talk. I sat down ordered a beer and asked the bar keep if she owneda gun. With a crooked smile she answered, “yes.” She has rifles at home that she uses for deer hunting. She does not use a gun for self defense. She was a character, but friendly. Actually, she was a good sport. She answered all of my questions and let me photograph her.
Overall It was successful. Though, the photographs are very dependent upon the audio.
Tomorrow, I m headed out to a hunting club.