Richie O’Baid

On Lookers

I grew up in Las Vegas and was always immersed in a big fast lifestyle. From fourteen to seventeen my friends and I were living and acting like we were in our twenties. Going to the strip and seeing street performers, people dressed up, and tourists shaped our childhoods and growing minds. We lived in the place where people go to act their craziest. On the strip we were surrounded by hundreds, even thousands of people that were there for one thing and one thing only—to have fun. Walking the streets and watching people was one of our favorite things to do on any given night. The ability to see so many diverse and interesting people is something we never took for granted and never got sick of.

Still today, I enjoy walking the streets of cities and simply watching people, but now I photograph what I see, which tends to be the people that you wouldn’t think twice about when passing by. To make my photographs I have to be in densely populated cities like New York, Chicago, and Las Vegas where I can disappear into the crowds and be an onlooker of onlookers.

When making photographs, I enjoy creating characters out of the people on the streets. I look for moments where I am able to pick a person out of an entire crowd and give them their own spotlight. I enjoy profiling the people that might make you curious about who they are or what they are doing. For example, there is a photo of an older gentleman looking at a memorial through a camera in his hand, but why? This man was having a  personal moment in a sea of hundreds looking at the exact same thing.

When I photograph out in the streets I like to have a set of rules that I keep in mind. For example, one of my rules is that all photos are candid. I do not like to sit in the same place and wait but instead I walk with the foot traffic and photograph as I go. Another one of my major rules, and arguably the most important, is that I make sure to remember that I am having fun with what I am doing. Once it becomes a chore I know that I am not accomplishing what I truly want to be doing inside of this work, which is giving life to the everyday person out on the street, the ones you would most likely walk right by and not think twice about.