I had an image in mind. I could previsualize the photo: the bridge at dusk, its golden glow reflecting off the river, the city lights humming beyond. I’d seen such a shot once before in a magazine but questioned if I could recreate it.
The boardwalk was dark and deserted, almost spooky, but I feared the presence of people more than their absence. Before setting up my tripod, I checked for sounds or shadows but found only the sulfurous mist. I’d timed it just right, the sky a deep indigo, the lights a burning orange, the moon just rising on the horizon.
Just as I was framing the shot, a creak alerted me to a bicyclist approaching. I watched with dread as a scruffy man skidded to a halt just before me.
What was I doing there alone, in the dark, a middle aged man with an overpriced camera, just waiting to be robbed? The police would lecture me, my wife excoriate me, my friends ridicule me. All for a stupid photo.
“Everybody takes that shot,” said the man through a gap in his teeth that whistled the sh in the final word.
“What?” I said, guardedly.
“It’s a cliché. Everybody here takes the same shot.”
I thought about his critique, rechecked the lighting.
Finally, I found the courage to say “I’m not everyone.”