Brussels is one of the most interesting European cities I’ve seen. I didn’t immediately fall in love with it but it conquered my heart in time.
Brussels does have plenty of photogenic places but I felt as though a grey veil covered everything. You have to look through this veil to see its charms. But getting through can be difficult, and I have never experienced so many problems in gaining approval to photograph people and locations. I had to change tactics to get the shots I needed for my clients.
Inside the Café Metropole, I saw an elderly man who was the perfect subject. He saw my camera, shook his head and looked angry. I answered with a smile. I let him cool down while I ordered a beer and changed my lens to a smaller one that didn’t stick out.
After he had finished his meal, I walked towards him, then took my photo in a split second. He just stared at me. I thanked him sincerely and he nodded. And then he smiled. It felt like the sky cleared up and the sun began to shine. Maybe a good meal helped, but we both had to cross a certain border to reach this positive ending.
However, I wasn’t happy with the photo when I got home. A disappointment? Not at all. His smile gave me a boost of motivation and creativity that let me make the shots that actually did reach publication.