I tend to take pictures in my native New Jersey, sometimes close to home. I mainly shoot 4×5 color so I’m chasing the light in the very early morning or very late afternoon. For this particular shot I knew it had to be taken at night. After setting up my tripod and view camera, painstakingly focusing in the dark and then figuring out the exposure I was ready for my first shot which was going to be about 9 minutes long. After minute 2 the front door of the bar opened and a drunk man staggered up to me, partly threatening but mostly curious and stood next to my camera. “Whadayadoowin”? Oh geez, I was now engaged and there was no way out but to talk to him. “I’m taking a picture of the bar”, “Why” he asked “is it for the newspaper”? “No” I said, “It is for my own purposes” This he couldn’t grasp and proceeded to ask me why would I want a picture of a bar. The only response I could come up with was that I was doing it for art. “Oh for Art, OK” this he seemed to accept without hesitation. I felt that I had finally made my case for being there and more importantly he would leave. That was until he asked me how much Art was paying me to take a picture of his bar. I managed to close the shutter and flip the film holder during this Abbott and Costello routine and get set for my next exposure. At this point my drunk friend was very interested in large format photography and night exposures in particular. He told me about his honeymoon night pictures at Niagara Falls and I tried to explain reciprocity failure to him. I was this close to finishing up and leaving when I got my second visitor of the night. You can see her cruiser’s tail light trails in the foreground as she drove right through my shot. “What are you doing” the woman officer asked. “I’m taking a picture of the bar”, “Why” she asked “is it for the newspaper”? “No” I said, “It is for my own purposes” At this point drunk guy chimes in “he’s doing it for Art” to which the officer replied “No he isn’t Art called us and said there’s a guy outside taking video of his bar” I clarified that it wasn’t video and it wasn’t for Art the man, but for art as in artwork. “Your taking a picture of a bar as art, photography isn’t art! It’s not like drawing or painting” she said. I told her that photography was art and that the Museum of Modern Art settled that one over 60 years ago. My drunk assistant agreed with me. After some radioing back to the station on her part she left me alone and with some advice. “The next time you’re out around town at night, phone the Milltown Police Department before hand so we don’t bother you while you’re making “art”.

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