Tommy and I knew of each other for a while before we actually met. Then we decided to do a shoot together. He said his hero was Joe Strummer, which lit my brain on fire. How could we not do an ode to 1970’s punk? I borrowed a friends ’68 Camaro told Tommy to bring his black leather jacket and we headed south of DTLA to an old train yard switching station.
It was the most fun day – both of us were channeling our inner punk rock kids. We played in cars and on train tracks and didn’t give a fuck. It’s very freeing to not to. It’s something I usually try and bring out of people in every shoot, I want people to feel free, but there was an added element of leather and Social D and dirt to this shoot that was so fun. There was something pure about what we were doing. Tommy wasn’t playing a punk for the purposes of our shoot. He was letting me see that 17 year old punk kid he had been growing up in Texas, giving me permission to shoot that guy.
We were almost done shooting, when I realized I had an old American flag in my car. It was my grandfathers from WWII. Obviously we had to shoot with that. Tommy flung the flag over his shoulders and started walking down the train tracks. We were shooting about 3 minutes when Tommy looks at me and said, “Cop.” I was thinking we were all like, “Yeah, Damn the Man!” So into the shot. But, “No, really Catie, cop.” I looked over and there was an officer, PISSED, who just yells at us to get the hell over there. Apparently we broke like 7 different laws – they actually stopped train traffic for us. And here I thought those tracks were abandoned. Oops. But I was standing there, completely convinced that was it, my ass is going to jail. I’ve never been more convinced in my life I was going to have to make that call to my Dad, who I think, honestly, would be torn between pride, because his daughter might be a badass? (daughter crosses fingers) And disapproval because, irresponsible and, “how much money is this going to cost me?”
But as I stood there, scared because I honestly didn’t have any money for bail, I took in the scene. Here Tommy and I stood in these rail yards, that could exists in any time, Tommy, dressed like a total punk, with a beat up old American Flag over his shoulder, and a cop who is about to arrest us. The picture was so on point. And I honestly weighed my options – if I slowly backed up and fired one single shot to capture this, what are the odds I WON’T end up in jail? Zero. I should have done it. Maybe I could have done my time on Orange is the New Black.