Faces of Kissimmee

Street Portraiture: Faces of Kissimmee, #35

We moved back to Kissimmee last September after spending nearly 10 years in Salt Lake City. Driving out of our new Kissimmee neighborhood one day, I noticed an individual standing in his front yard. Although I only saw the back of his head, there was a twinge of recognition. I started paying attention as I would pass that house on my trips in and out of the neighborhood, in hopes of seeing him again and getting a look at his face. I saw him a couple more times, but in neither instance did I see his face. Still, I had  a growing sense of certainty that the man I was catching glimpses of had been a favorite coworker during the many years I spent working for Disney in Information Technology. I hadn’t seen nor heard from Tom since I left Disney 15 years ago.

Then finally, as I was heading out one afternoon to work on this project, I got a clear look at him. Pulling the car over to the curb, I got out and called his name. There was a brief look of puzzlement upon his face as he looked at me. That expression turned to disbelief as he spoke, turning my name into a question. It was a fun and somewhat comical reunion; one in which it never occurred to me to grab my camera from the car.

Recently, as I was returning from a downtown photo shoot, I again found Tom in his front yard. This time, he was hard at work on a house painting project I would never want any part of. Thinking it would be merciful to get him away from his miserable chore, I pulled the car over to the curb once again. I didn’t get out this time. Instead, I called him over to the car, raised my D800 and shot him.

“Tom”, Nikon D800, ISO 1250, f/16 at 1/320 sec., 85 mm

Wow. Tom’s the 35th “face” in the on-going Faces of Kissimmee series! Over the time I’ve been dedicating my blog posts to this project, I’ve shot a lot of other photos – some of which I’d like to start sharing. I typically capture 2 or 3 of these street portraits per outing, because there are many days I don’t get the opportunity to go downtown to take photographs. Thus, I’ve been thinking to intersperse the Faces of Kissimmee posts with some other photographs just to break things up a bit and return to more regularly-spaced posting intervals. So, if you are really enjoying following this series as much as I’m enjoying doing it, don’t fret. I’m not abandoning the series; if it were a doughnut, I’d just be adding sprinkles. And you can always filter and view all images in the series using the “Faces of Kissimmee” tag.


Street Portraiture: Faces of Kissimmee, #34

Clarita is a nail technician who has worked for many years out of the space she occupies downtown at 205 Broadway, in the back of Butterfly Impressions Gifts. You may recall that Terry, the owner of that gift shop, was the subject of Faces of Kissimmee, #31.  When I approached Clarita asking to take her photo, she was in the midst of massaging a woman’s feet – part of a pedicure in progress. I was a bit tickled when she asked what I wanted her to do for the photo, but only because she was already doing it.

I learned Clarita has done my mother’s manicures for over 10 years and has built a loyal following of customers. I liked that she was so comfortable in front of the camera; so easily able to forget I was there and go about her work.

Thanks for the photo, Clarita.


“Clarita” [Click on image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 2500, f/4.0 at 1/200 sec., 85 mm

Street Portraiture: Faces of Kissimmee, #33

Ryan was sitting on the street bench at the south-most end of Broadway, just outside of Jammers Music Center. He had his earphones in. If you were stretching to incorporate a bad joke in your dialog, you might say he was jammin’ to some music outside of Jammers Music. But I’d never stoop to bad jokes here…

I could see as I first approached him that behind Ryan’s glasses, his eyes were closed. Though he opened his eyes as I drew closer, I walked past without disturbing him. Upon reaching the end of the block, I turned around, then passed him a second time without saying a word. I often liken that little voice in my head to the GPS in my car, warning that I’ve made a grave error by ignoring its directives as it announces in a barely tolerant tone, “Recalculating!” Except the GPS in my head isn’t so nice: there would be no recalculating. It commanded me to stop, turn around and take the photo that was right there waiting to be taken. I finally opened my mouth and introduced myself…

I know I’ve said it here before: some days when I’m in search of street portraits, I find it can be difficult to ask the question the first time. You just have to push through it and do it anyway.

As a side note, I am very pleased with the quality and low noise of this high-ISO capture on the Nikon D800. You can see from the shutter speed that the high ISO wasn’t required, but as I’m still getting to know this camera, I’m still asking and playing with lots of “what if….?” scenarios.

“Ryan” [Click on image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 2500, f/3.2 at 1/8000 sec., 85 mm


Street Portraiture: Faces of Kissimmee, #32

211 Broadway is the home of L’oveMARvelous Art Gallery 211. I walked through the gallery for the first time last week and was impressed by the broad collection of artistic works and the variety of genres it spanned. I first spotted Lex – “…as in Lex Luthor”, he clarified upon our introduction – as he sat at a small table in front of the gallery at work on an airbrush project. When I asked if I could photograph him, he insisted that the person I should photograph was Lamarr. Lex explained that Lamarr’s gallery had really been a blessing to local artists and he stepped inside, returning a moment later with Lamar at his side.

Lamar & Lex [Click on image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 6340, f/7.1 at 1/200 sec., 85 mm

Lamarr & Lex [Click on image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 6340, f/7.1 at 1/200 sec., 85 mm

The friendship and level of respect that runs between these two men was quite palpable. Lamarr was more interested in examining what Lex had on his bench than he was in the guy with the camera. I liked that, and clicked the shutter in hopes the resulting image would accurately convey the intensity of Lamarr’s examination of Lex’s work.

Lamar [Click on image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 640, f/4.0 at 1/320 sec., 85 mm

Lamarr [Click on image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 640, f/4.0 at 1/320 sec., 85 mm

Lex appealed to my cat fanatic side by the mere fact that the airbrush piece he was working on was a beautiful tiger. You can see some examples of his talent – including a pretty incredible Spiderman chopper – on his website, www.lexnfx.com. Lex does custom work out of his local airbrush shop.

Lex [Click on image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 640, f/6.3 at 1/200 sec., 85 mm

Lex [Click on image to enlarge/reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 640, f/6.3 at 1/200 sec., 85 mm

Not a bad outcome from a chance street encounter: 3 photos and introductions to 2 really great, friendly people. My gratitude goes out to both of them.

Be sure to visit L’oveMARvelous Art Gallery 211 the next time you’re downtown.


Street Portraiture: Faces of Kissimmee, #31

You won’t find another place in Central Florida quite like Butterfly Impressions, located at 205 Broadway in downtown Kissimmee. Osceola County’s first and only butterfly store, owner Terry Miller has created a very unique, one-of-a-kind shop. The shop offers butterfly-themed gifts from all over the world: kites, balloons, jewelry, books, shirts…and a whole lot more. They can also arrange live butterfly releases for events through Butterfly Dan’s – another local who is the former president of the International Association of Butterfly Exhibition. (Who even knew there was such an organization? Certainly not me.)

I found Terry to be quite photogenic, and she was gracious enough to let me take her photo for inclusion in Faces of Kissimmee. You can visit her website at www.totallybutterflies.com.

“Terry” [Click image to enlarge or reduce its size.] Nikon D800, ISO 1250, f/3.5 at 1/80 sec., 85 mm

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Street Portraiture: Faces of Kissimmee, #30

I recently discovered that my favorite place to have breakfast is Mrs. Mac’s Restaurant, located at 215 Broadway Avenue, in the heart of downtown Kissimmee. In business since 1945, it’s a very popular and dependable destination for a simple, home-cooked meal. It’s perhaps not the place you want to go if you’re concerned about calories and cholesterol, as these are standard components of the Southern-style menu. I’ve typically come here for lunch with my parents: an earlier post made note of the amazing homemade pies offered here (see Faces of Kissimmee, #7 if you missed my accolades for the oh-so-delicious lemon meringue).

Joyce is the owner of this family business and she rules the kitchen. One often sees her standing in the window that separates the kitchen from the diners, putting up food orders and ringing the bell to alert the ever-pleasant servers to come-and-get-it. Sometimes she’s there just surveying the goings-on and ensuring things are to her liking. Mrs. Mac’s is open Monday through Friday from 6:30 AM to 6:00 PM. Their Facebook page notes they are “…closed Saturday and Sunday so we may spend time with our families.”

Warned by staff that I’d never get a photo of Joyce by asking for one, I was instead reminded that “forgiveness is often easier to obtain than permission.” I sure hope she likes the photo; I’d hate to lose my access to those awesome pies.

“Joyce” [Click image to enlarge or reduce its size.] Nikon D300, ISO 800, f/2.8 at 1/45 sec., 85 mm


Street Portraiture: Faces of Kissimmee, #29

I had been hoping to run into Charlie again for a few weeks now: I had a print of his portrait from “Faces of Kissimmee, #2” to give him that I had been carrying around in my backpack. When I saw him sitting and chatting with another man, I thought it might be a chance to capture a new street portrait, too.

Joshua was seated such that deep shadows were behind him, while the morning sunlight was striking his face. It was the perfect setup, and one I thought would allow me to really capture him in an accurate and telling way. Joshua granted my request to take his photo, so I quickly dropped to one knee and took the shot. I love it when things just naturally and effortlessly work out. I also realized that all three photos captured that day were of men whose names began with the letter “J”; an interesting coincidence.

“Joshua” [Click image to enlarge or reduce its size.] Nikon D300, ISO 320, f/3.3 at 1/8000 sec., 85 mm



Street Portraiture: Faces of Kissimmee, #28

Getting Joseph’s street portrait took a bit of a different course than the others in this series, so far: Joseph stopped me rather than the other way around. He wanted to compliment me on my standard footwear: well-worn Converse All Star “Chuck Taylors”. My shoe-of-choice since the late 1970’s, there are currently six pairs in my closet, ranging from black to camouflage; hi-tops and lo-tops. I immediately noticed he had a kind face and a wonderful, natural sparkle in his eyes. Instantaneously, it became my goal to capture it to share with others.

Though he told me he didn’t have a computer and would probably never see my blog, Joseph was happy to let me take the photograph.

“Joseph” [Click image to enlarge or reduce its size.] Nikon D300, ISO 1250, f/6.7 at 1/500 sec., 85 mm


Street Portraiture: Faces of Kissimmee, #27

It was about 9:00 AM. I needed a cup of coffee. Badly. Stiff and zombie-like, I made my way down Broadway to Quokka Coffee. The aroma of fresh coffee filled my nostrils as I walked in the door; it smelled like hope, if hope has a smell. I waited patiently for the two women in front of me to place their orders (“Oh, would you please make up your minds? I’m desperate here!”) and receive them. I had already decided I was going to ask Justin for a photograph; but like the coffee I craved, it was a matter of timing.

With coffee at last in hand, I found a nice indentation on the couch and settled into it. It wasn’t long until the delicious nectar revived me, instilling me with the energy I needed to ask Justin if I could take his photo. This isn’t the first time my caffeine conviction has driven me through the doors at Quokka: one of the first street portraits in the Faces of Kissimmee series – that of Shaina – was also captured there.

Thanks for the photo, Justin – and the much-needed caffeine.

“Justin” [Click image to enlarge or reduce its size.] Nikon D300, ISO 1250, f/1.8 at 1/90 sec., 85 mm


Street Portraiture: Faces of Kissimmee, #26

Nick walked up to the corner where I was waiting to cross the street. On their way to the lakefront, he and his infant son, Hayes, were out to enjoy the beautiful afternoon. There was a nice breeze helping minimize the high levels of humidity we typically swim in as we move about here in Florida, so it was a nice day to be outside. Striking up a conversation, I learned that Nick had relocated from New Orleans to Kissimmee after the devastation of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. He met his wife here, and he works hard doing restaurant remodeling jobs. Nick is another person I found it both easy and a pleasure to meet and speak with. I hope he likes his street portrait as much as I enjoyed taking it.

“Nick” [Click image to enlarge or reduce its size.] Nikon D300, ISO 320, f/2.0 at 1/8000 sec., 85 mm