As we are neck deep in this quarantine, I’ve been busy training to grow my craft and doing mounds of boring business necessities that hardly keep a creative inspired…necessary evils though. One benefit of housekeeping is a chance to review some of my personal projects that continually take a back seat to client work. So today I have time to share my next installment of People of Intrigue. For those unfamiliar, it’s a project I began to tell the stories of people who intrigued me, who would likely never be clients. If you’d like to see more, just search “people of intrigue” in the search bar on the blog page.
I was attending a Nikon training in Philadelphia and fell in love with the city. Much more relaxed and friendly than my experiences in Baltimore as of late. Their city hall building and courtyard around it is magnificent! I walked around in awe looking all the part of a tourist! I would love to take a few of my JDP senior models there to create portraits and then head to Terminal Reading Market for lunch and a chocolate peanut butter dream milkshake! Maybe when this quarantine lifts?!?
While exploring this gorgeous historic building, I heard a flute echoing throughout the courtyard and was intrigued. I quickly realized it was coming from a homeless gentleman who was playing for money. I walked by, maybe not so nonchalantly, a few times hoping to get a chance to ask permission to photograph him. Visually he was arresting my eye.
It didn’t take long before I was able to strike up a conversation with Felix. He told me he was playing to earn money to get a ticket back home to Panama. Then he said I could find his story in the tourism office located right next to where he was playing. Lo and behold, there were two newspaper clippings in about Felix, the well known street performer.
Felix is a retired music professor. He performed and recorded with some of jazz’s greatest. He taught music at several colleges and the National Institute of Music. He was a composer, a musical director and arranger in Panama. He resided in New York for a while, where he studied computer programming and banking to help fund his musical studies. He received a music degree from Brooklyn College in 1977 then went on to teach music there as well.
Most people will walk by Felix and just think ‘bum’…they will miss his story that preceded his homelessness. The rush of life rarely allows the luxury of seeing beyond the urgent. I don’t know how Felix lost it all, that’s not my business. He suffers from a back ailment that may be connected to his current lot in life. Regardless, what I do know is this: there but for the grace of God go I. I know how quickly anyone’s story can change on a dime and look markedly different from what they ever imagined. Felix, thank you for the beautiful music, sharing your story and obliging a wide eyed photographer who you intrigued. May you be seen.