While taking a rest from shooting, I noticed this guy pull up on his bicycle. I asked him if I could take his portrait and he replied “yes” in a friendly and raspy voice.
Charlotte is Kee’s hometown and he’s been here since he was born with the exception of his time in the Army and the ten years he lived in Germany.
He told me that he’s thinking about going back to Germany. What do you love about Germany? “The people, the atmosphere, the food and the beer.”
What cities do you like in Germany? “Frankfort because it’s big and it’s quiet. Frankfort and Berlin are the places to be.”
What advice would you give to your younger self? “Keep a peace of mind and stay in good health. That’s what I tell myself. If I can do that bro, I’m good as gold. It don’t get no better than having peace of mind and good health. Money can’t do that.”
“You can have all the money in the world just like that man that killed all those peoples in Las Vegas. He was a multi-millionaire and what happened? How can you be a millionaire and not be happy? He wasn’t happy. Something was missing. I don’t know what it was. It could be a number of things, but he wasn’t happy.”
“To kill people… what you gonna kill all these… take a gun, put it in your head and shoot yourself. That’s all you need to do. But he did that later on after he finished what he was doing. It’s a sad sight. It’s bad to see man like that these days in that kind of state of mind.”
“I done been trained for Vietnam and I used all kind of weapons… I didn’t come out crazy. I should be crazy as hell out here. Can’t function with people.”
Why were you able to do that when other people can’t? “Where it comes from is they not got no spiritual background. No knowledge of the word of God to fight off the demons… the demons are real. When I came out of the Army, I maintained myself. Then the lord introduced himself to me, you know? But nowadays, men need to have some spiritual knowledge and have the lord in their life so when the fight comes, you can have something to fight them off.”
He asked me about photography. “You know what? I’ve always wanted to do that. I wanted to start on my own and be in photography. That was back when I was young… I’m 61 now. When I was young like back in my twenties, I always wanted to be a photographer. But I got hooked into the window cleaning business.”
“You know what I’m gonna do? I’m going to make an investment either selling cars or doing what you do. I’d go to Africa and all those places. You’d be surprised at the money you can make doing this kind of business.”
Thank you Kee for being one of my most interesting strangers.
Technical Notes: I didn’t want to make Kee move his bike and his stuff, so we stayed in this fairly sunny area. He was backlit, but I was able to bring out his face detail in Lightroom.
An alternate shot of Kee relaxing on a street bench.