As I walked up the stairs to cross the City Center footbridge, I pulled my thin sweater tighter around me, hoping to cut the cold wind that was chilling me to the bone. I looked up and paused to take in the brightly lit skyline of Vegas lights on a velvety black backdrop one last time, and allowed my mind to wander through the past week. The city, the lights, the casinos, the hotels, restaurants, the conference, the classes, the people…there was so much.
And then I heard him.
His voice was young and strong, matching the chords he was strumming on his acoustic guitar. I looked up, surprised. A musician no older than 25, with blond curls escaping from his hat, sat playing his guitar and singing passionately about life and love, an open guitar case lay open next to him, littered with a few $1 bills and shiny pennies.
I paused again, this time paying less attention to the lights and more attention to the music. The cold seemed to fade and I stood a few feet away and listened. Pedestrians continued passing, and some tossed their applause into his guitar case in the form of coins and dollar bills. The world passed by, and few seemed to even notice him. But he sang, and he played, and he smiled.
And I couldn’t not photograph him. When I finally got up the guts to ask his permission, he smiled, and asked my name. We talked for a few minutes and I learned that his name is Jesse. Jesse Lopez. And that he is a musician, and he enjoys playing in the street. In fact, he even told me, that he prefers it to playing gigs in other venues.
So he played, and I photographed.
And this is the result.
I found Jesse’s myspace page…check it out!
*Having traveled quite a bit with my camera I’ve learned the importance of asking permission to photograph. I understand that it depends on the situation, but I always tend to be more cautions. My hope is that I can build someone up and tell their story with my camera…never demoralize them. I’ve spoken more than once to people on the street who cringe when they are photographed, because they feel used. Photographers and tourists, please be oh so careful of the message you send with your camera.