Furtive Photos Taken In Traffic

Colin Freeman shows the art community his version of drive-by shootings.

There were extravagant pieces, rich in saturated color, during Weavver’s Art Walk Show, but tucked in a room to the side was a series of photos that juxtaposed them with understated stories captured in 1 to 4 frames. Colin Freeman’s entire series consisted of photos he stealthily took of fellow drivers on his way to work. The inspiration came simply from the mundane task of driving the morning commute, and becoming interested in the people around him.

“I drove to work every single freakin' day on the 55 freeway and I’d sit there and look at people in my rearview window. I’d be thinking, ‘What are these people doing? I have to record this!' This is insane that these people are acting as if nobody can see them, but they’re in totally plain view. You’re not invisible inside your car, and so I thought that I have to capture these moments because these moments are so pure and so human. It’s something we don’t get, even if you’re walking down the street, because as soon as [people] see a camera, people put on a face,” Freeman stated.

Colin Freeman used his car as a smoke screen to capture photos of people in their most candid moments while driving down the freeway. From within the vehicle, Freeman mounted a camera in the back of his SUV on a tripod that had to be strapped down in place. Any vibrations or instability in his camera rig could ruin the photo opportunity. In order to take the photos while driving, Freeman used a Bluetooth device to snap photos without his having to turn around. He had no way of knowing, however, what the photo was going to look like. The only viewfinder he had was his car's rearview mirror.

Although it was advantageous that glare from the back window kept his camera disguised as a silhouette, it unfortunately could be seen reflected in the window in earlier photos. Freeman’s solution was switching to a polarizing lens that reduced glare from that point. The lens has to be dialed in before each shoot in order for it to work. It was only a few steps of a trial-and-error process, but Freeman improved his method over the course of five years to distill, for Weavver’s art show, the favorite picks of his ever-expanding collection.

“A lot of people say ‘Oh my gosh, I hate doing this morning commute,’ but I actually look forward to it when I’m doing this. I think, ‘What am I going to get today?’ It is like a game.”

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