Monday, October 17, 2011

Smiley's Flea Market: Macon, Ga 10-1-11

I promised this post a long time ago! Im sorry everyone!

So back to my wonderful people.

And their stories.

Midaeaeias Davis: Washington County
But then there are people who are wonderful to photograph, but have no story... Or, at least a story I could understand. Like this lady...

Midaeaeias Davis is one of them. All I could pick up from her was that she has twelve children. Either people are mumbling more, I need my hearing checked. But twelve kids... WOW

So if you know me, you know I love the cold. You know I love snow. You know I think southerners are funny when they bundle up when its 60 out. They snuggle up in their blankets at the flea markets... usually have on their heavy winter down coats, geared up like they are ready for the North Pole. Maybe they were truly convinced. But by what?

I turn around and there he is. Santa! And that exactly what a little girl exclaimed as she saw him too!
Neil Cowan (AKA Santa Claus): Macon, GA

I turned to him, said “Santa, may I please photograph you?” He giggled, and said that no it was true, he does play Santa for the holidays at his business called The Santa Express.  He even told me has a friend who plays Santa as well but he is better, because his wife even looks like Mrs. Claus too! Goodness, that must be precious!
Before we parted ways asked again what school I went to again. I responded with “Savannah College of Art & Design in Savannah”. He smiled and told me he would be at the Gun & Knife Expo in two weekends in Savannah, that I should go photograph him there too!
What more could a kid want than to see Santa at the Gun & Knife Expo...
Oh, the joys of the south!

Don’t get me wrong- I love the south. My friends like to joke and say that I wont be let back up north if I keep drinking so much Sweet Tea. Love the sweet tea, love the weather, love the people. Prime example; Helen Butler. Helen had just a few plastic jars on the table, but I was curious what was in them.
Helen Butler: Elko, GA

She had invented her own product called “Stay Tied”. They clip around the knot of your shoe lace so they don’t come untied. She said that she invented them herself because her grandchild (I believe grandson) was always getting in trouble because his laces came undone and he was all over the place. I think this is a really great idea, that every family should invest in! She said that she also has plans to sell this on QVC & HSN! I can really only wish her the best!

Over my shoulder I saw someone who just seemed to need to be in my blog/book!

Bill Stithem: Warner Robins, GA

Bill made me laugh a little. I approached him by asking if I could photograph him. He said sure. I started shooting and I asked how business was this morning. He pulled out all the money in his pocket & said “Don’t see no hundreds now do ya?!”

So I began to realize, most everyone was chilling in the back of their pick-up. Normally I don’t aproach tough guys, but I took a chance with Ron & I’m glad I did.

Ron Kirby: Tifton, GA

Ron got into antiques and cool nick-nacks when he was in the service. Based in Texas, he was able to find a lot of really interesting things he told me. He had buddies just give him money & told him to buy them cool stuff. And he did. And thats how he got bit by the bug! Sometimes is hard to find unique things but he told me that you can’t quit & you just have to drive around. Just drive.

Other times, you’ll find things that you think are really cool & you’ll splurge on them. Like an ice chest Ron once picked up for $600. He thought it was so awesome & vintage until he found out it was only worth $125.
Ron has it all!

After that, Ron has learned about anything before he has bought it. Selling since 1982, and at Smiley’s for the past 7 years he’s seen a lot of cool, great things, but not as cool as the stuff he must see as a bounty hunter. Yeah- He would be!

A lot of the time, there are tables just littered with JUNK. Your eye wanders to see if there are any usable items in the heap. Sometimes head aches & neausea kick in because you are so disoriented from all the junk. Sometimes the cure is to stop, and look for something familiar.

After my  eyes settled down I had to find out who had all these piles of clothes, and random things.

Shevie McDaniel was NOT who I was expecting to have this massive collection of everything under the sun.
Shevie McDaniel: Macon, GA

At 70 years young, Shevie has been selling for about 9 years now. She was truly just a sweet, sweet lady. She said that she obviously isn’t doing this for the money. She really just feels obligated to help others. She said that if a family doesn’t look like they have much that she’ll just fill a bag full of stuff for them. Now this may just seem like the right thing to do, but we have to remember that not everyone sees the world for all of its good anymore. Shevie does. She told me that “G-d gives me what I need, not what I want. I have to figure out the rest”. There are sweet people because they have G-d in their life, and then there are just good sweet people. Shevie is a little of both.

So there has been one group of people I have avoided during this project so far & I’m not sure why: children. A lot of parents would generally find it creepy to ask if a stranger could photograph their child. However, after talking to Mikayla’s parents and explain this project they were all for it.
Mikayla H.: Central GA

Mikayla is an adorable little girl. She even had on a little fanny pack to keep all of her money in that she made. Precious

I asked Mikayla what her favorite toy that she was selling was. She pointed to these dolls. She told me that they are special to her because they are Indians, and the Indians helped the Pilgrams & that we need to be thankful for the Indians.

On a good day, Mikayla can make $50 selling her old toys.  Pretty impressive paycheck for an elementary school girl. When she grows up she wants to work for the Farm Bauru, like her mommy.

My favorite thing about meeting Mikayla was the amount of excitement she emitted when she told me she’s excited that she is getting to go to Disney for the first time soon. There is something truly magical about that & it reminded me of how wonderful & simple it was to be little again.

I now felt like I had made a major breakthough in this project. I have now photographed people from every age group. I felt brave as I walked up to Deanna & Blake McKinney.

Deanna & Blake McKinney: Macon, GA

Blake reminded me so much of my little brothers. He was out selling his old toys, and books and whatnot with his mom.

I personally think the photograph speaks for itself as far as their relationship goes. She said that they’ve been selling for five years now, and the best advice she has for me is “don’t buy it if ya don’t need it”. Hmmm… if this were true, I would be done with the project. No more weird things. Just people.

Speaking of weird people… Kidding! Ken wasn’t a weird-o. He was actually quite charming in his own little way.
Ken Mcbrearty: Montezuma, GA

I asked if I could photograph him after chatting it up with him for a bit & he agreed only if he could wear his hat. I was so confused, he was already wearing a hat. He took his hat off, and put his hat on.

He got into selling these products simply by luck. He’s been selling them for about 30 years now. You can tell that he was way too much fun at work! When he’s not at flea markets, he usually shows at fairs, and other expos & that’s where the real money is.

Pat is someone I would have expected to cross paths with up north. Just the way he had all of his stuff set up reminded me of how we do it up north!
Pat Powell: Macon, GA

Pat’s been selling since 1978. He said that things have changed a lot since he started- mostly internet selling is very much integrated. The worst parts to him are the back pain from all the lifting & standing, and the people with the bad attitudes. Even worse than that is cultural differences he said. He said that foreigners are generally very aggressive hagglers. They can come off offensive with offers & then the art of the deal is lost & so is business.

Now a lot of people don’t want me to use their full names (probably because they are criminals hah!) but I have never had someone give me multiple alias’s.
Shane "Smith": Macon, GA

Mr. Pica “88” said he has been “pickin trash since before it was cool”. I totally agree that this is a huge fad right now. There are so many tv shows that are about pickin’ or junkin’ or whatever way you want word it- getting collectable trash. “I collect dust” –Shane “Smith”

I was interested in something Shane was selling, but I admitted I had no money on me. My odd sense of humor thought it would be funny to offer to pay him in rubies.  He got up, walked to the truck and got something. I thought he was going to yell at me or something. But instead he had a purple Royal Crown bag full of actual rubies. I thought that was highly amusing. Who has a bag full of rubies in their truck?!

Mr. Pica does, that’s who. But that’s not all he has hidden from the shoppers at the flea market. Shane also has a kennel called Dogstreet Kennels, here in Georgia. This rough exterior would have never revealed that soft tender spot for dogs, had I not sat and talked long enough.

I wish I could have talked longer to Shane and his buddy Martin, but they were in the shade, and the wind was blowing, and I had on shorts… too cold this early. I needed to get back into the sun.
Bill Roberston: Macon, GA

In the sun was Bill Roberston, better known as Trader Bill.

Bill has been selling (custom) knives since 1977, and at the flea market for 30 years. He got interested in knives just because of the fact that it’s “man’s oldest tool”. He started doing custom leather work (for knives) at age 14. He did this in order to “make my own stuff the way I wanted it”, which is an art almost lost this day in age.
Bill can make around $200 a day at the market.

I’m sure we’ll see Bill around for a lot longer since he is driven to be out there every weekend because he loves what he does out there.

There are times when I am not driven to photograph a person at first, but I feel obligated once I explain the project to them, to then photograph them.

Joe happened to be one of those cases.
Joe Croehet: Macon, GA

Joe comes out to the flea market because he enjoys doing it. He said that the best part about it is seeing so many people he hasn’t seen in a while, or just having 15 minutes of good conversation with a stranger; like myself.  By the way- Joe is the first actual Cajun I have met in my life, and I loved the accent. He told me his daddy was a gator hunter! I can relate because I watch Swamp People. Pretty much makes me an expert doesn’t it?

At this point, I’m ready to quit. I’m tired. My legs hurt. My neck is killing from the weight of the camera being hung all day. I was really ready to just give up and get back into the car. But I didn’t. Only because I saw a smile that light up my day.

Janice was just a precious little thing. She was true Americana in her little outfit for the day. Wonderful!
Janice Scarborough: Lizella, GA

Janice prides herself on selling only quality items. It must be something in the Macon air, because all of the sellers seem to be doing this for more of a social environment! But she was so flattered by the fact that I wanted to photograph her. She felt super special, which gave me all the energy I needed for the rest of the day.

I think I was so energized from Janice that I was ready to take on a lot more challenges, like photographing people who looked like they really wanted nothing to do with me. People like Mike.
Mike Astumian: Macon, GA

Mike intimidated the hell out of me! He was sitting on the back of his tuck, arms crossed, product almost hiding him from shoppers. 
But he wasn’t all that intimidating. He just didn’t want to talk much, but would rather have me lead the conversation. Mike has been selling things for 32 years. He began as an antique dealer long ago & now finds himself getting rid of  excess. There was a point in his life where he was going to shows every Sunday. Now he finds himself at his roots- back at Smiley’s, where he used work back when they first opened, long ago!

Now we know I have a thing for facial hair, especially on grandpas. So I was almost pulled by a magnetic-photo-attraction-force to John Clark’s beard.
Phyllis Astumian & John Clark: Macon, GA

John was not the one selling at the market, but he was also just a hoot with his commentary.

Phyllis was selling her handmade jewelry. She is very interested in beading & gem stones. An art of her own I commented. She replied by saying “No, I’m an actual artist” which I took as I offended her. She went on by smiling  while explaining she was a painter. Following that she became a nun- a Sister of Mercy for 13 years. Out of nowhere, she went from artist, to nun. She did have a show with her paintings in 1988 at the Lincoln Art Center. I wasn’t told the timeline of these events. She is currently a behavioral disorder teacher.

At this point I had not asked Phyllis for her last name, so Mike hollers over next to us, saying “Ask her HER last name!” which I obliged. Phyllis Astumian- Mikes sister.

“Thanks for the heads up, she was family Mike” was all I could think of saying at the time. He laughed so hard.

John looks to Phyllis & directed his conversation to me by saying “She's smarter the average cookie” which made me giggle. John just had lots of funny commentary of things that Phyllis were talking about. As a disabled vet, he finds a great sense of loyalty in anything he does.

“My daddy only expected three things out of us: shoot a gun, ride a horse, and play an instrument.” –John Clark

John & Phylis are not married, but are best friends. I explained that my roommates mom was about to get remarried and she was uncomfortable with it, especially the fact that the word wedding was being used. I suggested to her that we refer to it as a permanent friendship ceremony. John nudged Phylis, and said- we need to have one of those!

My next subject was Jane.
Jane Hollingsworth: Forsyth, GA

Jane told me she had stomach cancer a few years back. Her husband of a long time didn’t know how to react so he just left. She had to fend for herself without him. She then got into selling at flea markets to help pay for bills.
Nell Wallse: GA

Her table neighbor, Nell, was down on her luck too when she decided to get into selling. She was in a wreck and got laid off because she wasn’t able to work.  This is a terrible scenario but, sadly it happens all the time.

I asked her what she would grab if the flea market caught on fire. She shrugged, and said “Nothin. I wouldn’t sell anything I couldn’t part with”.

As the day was winding down, I was still not all the way through the market. I was nervous I was going to miss someone phenomenal. As I turned the corner, I saw them.
Leon & James Wilton: Macon, GA

Leon & James were characters I made up in my mind. I knew I was looking for an old man, with a puppy… with a scowel. There he was!

Leon said that selling was just for fun, that today he’d probably loose money. When I told him more myself, he asked me if I knew about Kellers Flea Market in Savannah. I nodded yes. He told me that his dad was in Navy with Kellers dad. Leon started picking up storage units back in 1982 to get his collection together. He currently has what sounds to be a large collection of vintage tractors, and about 18 forklifts! *LOVE!!!  He says that its important to do honest business for people, that’s why he helps fix tractors for people in the area, free of charge- just because he has the wealth of knowledge.

I was ready to be done but Zack caught my attention. I was curious as to what the deal was behind him- lots of people had these oils or whatever it was.
Turns out, it has something to do with importing stuff from Egypt. We didn’t really get into product, because neither of us were really ecstatic about it.
Zack Glen: Atlanta, GA

Zack is currently trying to make it as a hip hop artist. His lyrics give him freedom to be creative and witty he says. He said that if he thinks about things positively, that everything will fall into place, and that by that he means that the mainstream will love him! He says that business, is “just a hustle, a pretty good hustle”.

I asked Zack how he spelled his name, and he said the normal way- like the power ranger!!! I found this to be adorable, because I was the pink power ranger for Halloween when I was little, he was the red one one year, and the black one another.

On my way out I had to stop and see all the flea market puppies. They break my heart, but I always have to walk past them. I stopped and talked to Terrance about his puppies.
Terrance Ripley: Savannah/Macon, GA

He said that to do this he has to have good ethics, so all of his puppies have had their shots. He also commented that he has to get a good vibe from the potential owner, to make sure they are going to a good home, otherwise, he wont sell them to them. He said it’s hard to sell his puppies, but he has to leave with a good conscience that he was doing the right thing.

Till next time!


  1. This is sooooo cool! Keep on keepin on! <3

  2. Please remove the photo of Blake M. from your page. I do not give permission for my photo to be used on the internet.

  3. If you were Blacke M. Why did you use anonymous?