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A homeless man's humbled, prostrated prayer inside Saint Ignatius Church in San Francisco. © 2014 Thorsten Overgaard. Leica M 240 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95

   
 
   

The Story Behind That Picture: "A Prayer for San Francisco"

By: Thorsten Overgaard. August 2, 2014

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I have noticed that I very seldom miss a chance to visit a church when I am out and about walking and taking photos in a city

A church always represents a change in mood, change of light, and very often something unusual and unexpected. As when I found a choir rehearsing in Boston. Or when I found a very rhetoric Sunday service with gospel and big arm movements in the Caribbean. And again when I found tourists all trying to capture the light coming down from the ceiling in Rome.

There is always something happening inside churches, no matter if there are few or many people. So I go to church, not to pray, but to take picures.

In San Francisco last month there were a few people praying and some interesting light I was trying to capture. As I walked around I saw an unusual sight in that a man was lying on the floor inside the door, center of the church and praying. When I walked closer I could see he was one of the many homeless. I took a couple of picture and thought it was unusual and would be good.

 

My first attempt. A praying man that is a little nuts. I didn't want to intrude on that one.
My first attempt. A praying man that is a little nuts. I didn't want to intrude on that one.

 

I walked around some more, and in the front of the church a man had sat down and started a very loud prayer. San Francisco seem to have an unlimited amount of mad people that talk loud to their own reflections in windows or to the air in front of them, scream in the streets, or as here, start not a whispering but a loud screaming prayer.

I wanted to get closer, but it wasn't really visual. The odd thing was that now four, then eight people walked over to that part of the church and sat down to be part of it. I gave up that image because there was no light and nothing really showing visually what was happening.

 

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My contact sheet from inside the church in San Francisco. I did 16 photos in 9 minutes.

 

As I was about to leave the church after 10 minutes in there, I see the homeless man is still on the floor. He is actually blocking the way out, doing movements up and down, raising a finger as if he is blaming himself or teaching the world a lesson.

I decide to take a photo from the aisle and against the light. I just have to walk 30 feet closer to him. Or as close as I can get without disturbing him. As I walk towards him, my daughter Robin follows me, and she almost dances while she talks loudly. Here comes a man with a camera and a dancing girl; and all I wanted to be was invisible!

I decide to follow the plan. I walk so close as I must to get a frame of what is essential with a 50mm.

I kneel down and frame with straight lines and wait for his body to have a position so one can actually tell what is happening. I take two photos, and then I get up, turn around and walk back the way I came from. He didn't notice us at all, it seems.

This is how a visit to yet another church gave an interesting picture. I hope I haven't ruined the story of what you see in the picture by telling the story behind it. It was a beautiful humbled and sincere prayer from a person surely in need of some guidence.

I hope his prayer makes San Francisco a better place. It needs it.

 

 



         
 

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Thorsten Overgaard's Leica Article Index
Leica M cameras:   Small Leica cameras:
Leica M10   Leica Q full-frame mirrorless
Leica M10-P   Leica CL
Leica M Type 240 and M-P Typ240   Leica TL2
Leica M-D Typ 262 and Leica M60   Leica Digilux 2 vintage digital rangefinder
Leica M Monochrom Typ246 digital rangefinder   Leica Digilux 1
Leica M Monochrom MM digital rangefinder   Leica Sofort instant camera
Leica M9 and Leica M-E digital rangefinder   Leica Minilux 35mm film camera
Leica M9-Professional digital rangefinder   Leica CM 35mm film camera
Leica M4 35mm film rangefinder    
     
Leica M lenses:   Leica SLR cameras:
Leica 21mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica SL 2015 Type 601 mirrorless fullframe
Leica 21mm Leica Super-Elmar-M ASPH f/3.4   Leica R8/R9/DMR film & digital 35mm dSLR cameras
Leica 21mm Super-Angulon-M f/3.4   Leica R10 [cancelled]
Leica 28mm Summilux-M ASPH f/1.4   Leica R4 35mm film SLR
Leica 35mm Summilux-M ASPH FLE f/1.4 and f/1.4 AA   Leica R3 electronic 35mm film SLR
Leica 35mm Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leicaflex SL/SL mot 35mm film SLR
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95    
Leica 50mm Noctilux-M f/1.0 and f/1.2   Leica SL and TL lenses:
Leica 50mm Summilux-M ASPH f//1.4    
Leica 50mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0    
Leitz 50mm Summicron-M f/2.0 "rigid" Series II   Leica R lenses:
Leica 75mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/1.25   Leica 19mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 75mm Summilux-M f/1.4   Leica 35mm Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica 75mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 50mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leica 90mm APO-Summicron-M ASPH f/2.0   Leica 60mm Macro-Elmarit f/2.8
Leica 90mm Summarit-M f/2.5   Leica 80mm Summilux-F f/1.4
Leica 90mm Elmarit f/2.8   Leica 90mm Summicron-R f/2.0
Leitz 90mm Thambar f/2.2   Leica 180mm R lenses
    Leica 400mm Telyt-R f/6.8
Leica Cine Lenses:   Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/2.8
Leica Cine lenses from CW Sonderoptic   Leica 35-70mm Vario-Elmarit-R f/4.0
     
     
History and overview:   Leica S:
Leica History   Leica S1 digital scan camera
Leica Definitions   Leica S2 digital medium format
Leica Lens Compendium   Leica S digital medium format
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The Solms factory and Leica Wetzlar Campus   "Magic of Light" Television Channel
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Photography Knowledge   Thorsten Overgaard books and education:
Calibrating computer screen for photographers   Thorsten Overgaard Masterclasses & Workshops
Which Computer for Photographers?   Lightroom Survival Kit (Classic)
What is Copyright? Advice for Photogarphers   Lightroom Presets
Synchronizing Large Photo Archive with iPhone   Capture One Survival Kit
Quality of Light   "Finding the Magic of Light" eBook (English)
Lightmeters   "Die Magie des Lichts Finden" eBook (German)
Color meters for accurate colors (White Balance)   "The Moment of Impact in Photography" eBook
White Balance & WhiBal   "Freedom of Photographic Expression" eBook
Film in Digital Age   "Composition in Photography" eBook
Dodge and Burn   "A Little Book on Photography" eBook
All You Need is Love   "After the Tsunami" Free eBook
How to shoot Rock'n'Roll   The Overgaard New Inspiration Extension Course I
X-Rite   The Overgaard Photography Extension Course
The Origin of Photography    
Hasselblad/Imacon Flextight 35mm and 6x6 scanner   Leica M9 Masterclass (video course)
Leica OSX folder icons   Leica M10 Masterclass (video course)
    Leica M240 Masterclass (video course)
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Bespoke Camera Bags by Thorsten Overgaard:   Leica TL2 Quick Start (video course)
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"The Von Backup" camera backpack   "Finding the Magic of Light"
     
     
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Henri Cartier-Bresson   Christopher Tribble
Birgit Krippner   Martin Munkácsi
John Botte   Jose Galhoz
 
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Morten Albek    
Byron Prukston   Richard Avedon
     
The Story Behind That Picture:   Thorsten Overgaard on Instagram
More than 200 articles by Thorsten Overgaard   Join the Thorsten Overgaard Mailing List
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Leica M10 / M240 / M246 User Forum on Facebook   Heinz Richter's Leica Barnack Berek Blog
Jono Slack   Leica Camera AG
Steve Huff Photos (reviews)   Leica Fotopark
Erwin Puts (reviews)   The Leica Pool on Flickr
LeicaRumors.com (blog)   Eric Kim (blog)
Luminous Landscape (reviews)   Adam Marelli (blog)
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Ken Rockwell (reviews)   Shoot Tokyo (blog)
John Thawley (blog)   I-Shot-It photo competition
     
 
 
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Mega Size Signed Prints   Ventilated Shade E43 for older 50mm Summilux
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Commisioning Thorsten Overgaard Worldwide   Ventilated Shade for Leica 28mm Summilux
Thorsten Overgaard Archive Licencing   Ventilated Shade for current 28mm Elmarit-M
Video Masterclasses   Ventilated Shade for older 28mm Elmarti-M
Photography Books by Thorsten Overgaard   Ventilated Shade E49 for 75mm Summicron
Home School Photography Extension Courses   ventilated Shade E55 for 90mm Summicron
Overgaard Workshops & Masterclasses   Ventilated Shade for 28mm Summaron
Artists Nights   Ventilated Shade for 24mm Elmarit
Gallery Store Specials   Ventilated Shade E60 for 50mm Noctilux and 75/1.4
 

Above: A homeless man's humbled, prostrated prayer inside Saint Ignatius Church in San Francisco. © 2014 Thorsten Overgaard. Leica M 240 with Leica 50mm Noctilux-M ASPH f/0.95.

 





 


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"On The Road With von Overgaard"
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Lightroom Survival Kit 7
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Thorsten Overgaard
Thorsten von Overgaard is a Danish writer and photographer, specializing in portrait photography and documentary photography, known for writings about photography and as an educator. Some photos are available as signed editions via galleries or online. For specific photography needs, contact Thorsten Overgaard via e-mail.

Feel free to e-mail to thorsten@overgaard.dk for
advice, ideas or improvements.

 

 
           
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