Let’s face it: Huge crowds of drunk people can be irritating, unless you are also a drunk person. Bay to Breakers, the annual foot race in San Francisco, is mainly a huge crowd of drunk people. And I was not about to irritated.
Which is why, on a Sunday morning at 7 a.m., I was at a party in San Francisco drinking vodka and orange juice with a large group of people dressed as Olympic athletes. We headed to the race along with several hundred people dressed as rainbows and scores of people dressed as leprechauns. By the time we hit the race route, the people who came to the 2012 Bay to Breakers to actually compete in the race had long since finished, and the course was populated by people in all manner of costumes (or none at all) and at all levels of drunkenness.
I came mainly to shoot photos, and as it turned out, drinking vodka beforehand was the best decision I could’ve made. Bay to Breakers is a participatory event. As a participant, I was able to get close to everybody, move easily through the crowd, have the same kind of experience everybody else was having. I passed numerous photographers who were standing on the curb, picking off shots as people walked by. They looked disconnected, awkward.
Of course, if I was actually on assignment for this shoot it would’ve been a sober morning. And I did see some newspaper photogs working the crowd, dutifully gathering names, reporting the event. But I came to shoot for myself, to do some street photography. And to see it all as a participant.