#findthebumdog: A Homeless Man’s Development as a Street Photographer While Living on the Streets traces Bumdog Torres’ path from having a faint idea of a single project, to being a fully realized art curator, filmmaker, and photographer with multiple gallery shows, feature-length films, and a handful of photobooks to his credit. If, like me, you live a life of relative luxury, with the Masters Degree in Art History and Criticism and all the
toys cameras and film and developing tanks and bulk loaders and photobooks that your little heart desires, and if you just look at all that stuff and feel self satisfied—again, I’m talking more about myself than anyone else—then do yourself a favor and maybe try to think more like a Bumdog.
This is the third printing (if I have that right) of #findthebumdog and may be expanded from earlier versions… I remember reading something like that, but can’t find it now. Anyway. Bumdog published his first book (of writings) in 2001, Sketches of Nothing by a Complete Nobody, and in 2007 released a feature-length film with the same title. Then, someone introduced him to Vivian Meyer, and shortly after he scored an iPhone 4s and started shooting still photographs.
From the 4s, he went to an iPhone 6plus, then a Sony NEX-3, and then to his “first real camera” (my emphasis), a Panasonic LUMIX G85. Now… I first got interested in photography (again) with my first iPhone, the iPhone 4… I went from the 4 to a Nikon D7000 (less than a year later), then hard to film, first with the Ricoh 35ZF, then with the Nikon FG and many, many, many other film cameras. And while I started my stills “career” at least a year before Bumdog, I’ve done, almost literally, fuck all with my gear and know-how, while Bumdog has put out 5 or 6 books, many in their 2nd or 3rd printing.
There’s a throwaway NOFX song, “Freedom Like a Shopping Cart” that somehow seems applicable… Here, in my wife’s big house, amongst all my photobooks and cameras and a refrigerator 1/8th full of film, I have multiple responsibilities, from my low-level management job to digging in the garden, and while I have all the tools, and could make the time if I cared to, or so all the productivity gurus would tell me. I’ve read about passion and grit and all, and while it might be nice to feel a creative tug so strongly that I essentially left my wife and job and everything, and pursued it to its complete realization, that’s just not me. I see creative time as, more or less, desert.
And I eat my spinach before I have my desert.
Like this long Xmas break… Four days off from work—1: visit my darling aunts and take a beloved lens in for repairs; 2: start work on this post, then find that my wife secured access to a huge mound of way-too-much-mulch that a neighbor had delivered from ChipDrop, so I ran wheelbarrow full after wheelbarrow-full of mulch from the pile to the massive border beds we had cut in last week (and that we were going to pay some people to fill with mulch for us); with about 1/3 to 1/2 done, I got worried that we were taking too much; 3: paused after a few loads to bang out this post, and need to get back to it, will probably burn myself out today and tomorrow both, and maybe get done with that, but have made 0 photographs, no progress on tidying up my work/play space, done very little that I wanted to do and only barely met my outside obligations (like, for example, writing a good review of Bumdog’s excellent book rather than whining on like a jerk)—insofar as writing for my blog, photographing, tidying my personal space are “desert” and shoveling and wheelbarrowing mulch like flipping Sisyphus is like spinach, I, of course, must have my spinach before I have my desert.
This is, of course, just an excuse to not do anything. I may as well be smoking dope or shooting junk and talking about the great film I’ll make one day and telling Bumdog how funny it would be if he too made a film… Then, of course, Bumdog makes a film, makes two, three films, writes a book, puts together 4 or 5 or 6 photobooks, all while also hustling for his next meal, getting rousted from sleep by police, moved-along by security guards and shop owners, and looked sideways at, if at all, by passersby.
May Allah bless Bumdog and grant him ease and prosperity, and may He forgive me.
What might it mean for me to think more like Bumdog? smh. I have no idea. Again, spinach comes before desert, and I eat a ton of spinach. Could I do something with the time in the evening that I spend staring blankly at the tele? Some nights, sure. But last night I was too wiped out to do anything but stare blankly, if not at the television, then at the wall. And I do owe my darling wife a fair amount of time just doing the #netflixandchill thing, if that’s still a thing. But I do waste time. I do make careful plans that never come to fruition. I didn’t just bang this post out in 10 minutes, despite it reading like that, and despite mostly having the ability.
Anyway. Enough navel gazing. #findthebumdog is great and inspiring, in a crazy-making way, and worth picking up. As of a week or 10 days ago (writing on Boxing Day 2021), he had 13 copies remaining. Reach out to him and he might have a copy for you. He also sells prints, t-shirts, masks, copies of his films, all kinds of stuff. Check out his Instagram and reach out to him. He’s already done so much more with what he has than I’ve done with all I have. And, again, may Allah forgive me.