At first, coming up the Metro escalator, it’s just distant noise. It’s hard to figure out what I’m hearing. But as I get closer to the surface, the sound grows and becomes unmistakable.
As sunlight falls across the top of the escalator, swelling music replaces the roar of Metro cars below. For a brief moment, the music is reminiscent of a movie score: I am the main character and a soundtrack is cuing the start of my day.
This morning there is a man playing what appears to be a mandolin, though it sounds more like a guitar. For the past few weeks, he has been intermittently serenading the morning crowds at Farragut North. As he effortlessly plays his instrument, a few people drop money into his “tip box.” The donations seem small compared to the beauty of his notes.
I, too, drop a few dollars into his box, for which he sincerely thanks me. I briefly stand
and listen, then begin to take a few quick photographs of this street musician at work. As I leave, he smiles and nods; I do the same.
For this photo essay I searched for street performers, otherwise known as “buskers.” I knew the best place to look for them was at Metro stops around town, particularly at rush-hour as commuters hurry to and from their jobs.
As I took these pictures I was thinking about the courage it takes to perform before so many people, with the only assured reward being this: sharing one’s talent with the world. And that talent is very real. Some of the most powerful drum patterns I have heard were projected from nothing more than large buckets and trash cans.
To photograph a busker is to pay tribute to that courage, talent and passion.