Featured,  Street Portraits

My Favorite Photo Spot: Eastern Market

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With a lull in the action, an Eastern Market vendor flips through The Washington Post

 

What do you look for in a photo-taking spot? As a street photographer, I’m drawn to places with lots of people. Not just any people, mind you. People who seem relaxed and happy are more likely to say yes when I ask them for a photo. Meanwhile, very busy people likely won’t even notice if I take pictures of them on the sly.

There are many places around Washington that have that perfect mix of happy, relaxed folks and occupied, oblivious ones. Union Station comes to mind, or on the corner of 7th and H NW, near the Chinatown arch. And there are all our vibrant main streets, from the “new U” (as it was once called) to 14th NW, to H St. NE. Parks are also good bets: Meridian Hill, the fountain at Dupont Circle, or the granddaddy of them all, The Mall.

Still, the place that I return to almost every weekend is Eastern Market. The market has been called Capitol Hill’s beating heart. (Really! I Googled it.) The artists and food vendors will often oblige you with a photo. (And, I’ve been there frequently enough to know which ones don’t want a camera within 50 feet of them.) Plus, the shoppers all seem to be in a good mood, which makes my job easier.

Read on for some photos of my favorite Market denizens. And, be sure to tell us about your favorite photo spots in the comments.

All images © Miki Jourdan. 

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I took this one during my first photo class back in 2013. The sign at the produce vendor read “Pay Grandma.” However, how long Grandma had worked here was in dispute. When I asked to take her photo, she told me that she had been market for 53 years. Later, though, another vendor told me that she had it wrong — she first came to the market with her father 80 or more years before. I haven’t seen Grandma in quite some time, and now I’m afraid to ask about her.
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This photo, which I took last weekend, reminds me of Grandma. This woman was knitting when I asked for her portrait. I don’t believe she said a word. She just put down her work and looked into the camera.
Genevieve works in a stall selling fabrics and dresses from Ghana. When I first asked for her portrait, she said that she didn't like having her picture taken. I said that I didn't understand why, given her sense of style. She paused for a bit and then let me take the shot.
Genevieve works in a stall selling fabrics and dresses from Ghana. When I first asked for her portrait, she said that she didn’t like having her picture taken. I said that I didn’t understand why, given her lovely sense of style. (It’s not flattery if it’s true!) She considered for a moment and then let me take her photo.
There can be something beautiful about the way that a candid captures a person unawares.
There can be something beautiful about the way that a candid captures a person unawares.

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This guy is a regular at the market. During a particularly sultry June afternoon, he found a place to cool down.
This guy is a regular at the market. During a particularly sultry June afternoon, he found a place to cool down.
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I asked Tony for a photo, and he said, “Why not?”
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Tina sells hats at Eastern Market and models them herself.
I was struck by this family's affection for neon glasses.
I was struck by this family’s affection for neon glasses.

A photographer since 2013, Miki goes by "Miki" to avoid all the Michael Jo[u]rdan jokes.