(English text below the Chinese one.)
I am quite a nervous person. Each time I do something I care a lot, I will not sleep well and I wake up early. Words like “just in case…”would linger in my mind until I start doing the job and forget everything else.
“Just in case … I should get there earlier,” I simply couldn’t get rid of this thought. I got to the house destroyed by fire in northwest DC an hour earlier before its owner, who was supposed to be there at 11.
When I got there, the door to the house was open and a man in yellow was sweeping the floor in front it. I introduced myself and explained to him what I do and why I wanted to photograph the burnt house.
The man smiled and invited me into the house. As I was photographing the staircase facing the door, he suggested I take a look at the basement, which is pitch dark and … stinky, and where I spent almost an hour with a dim tiny torch.
As I walked back to the first floor, a big shadow of a man came at me. I could feel he was not that friendly, but I greeted him, “Hi, How are you?”
“Who are you?”He grunted.
I explained to him what I do and told me I was granted permission to photograph the house.
He didn’t say anything. And I went out of the house to greet the owner who just arrived with her son and nephew. She gave me her permission after I explained to her one more time what I did and why I did this fire project.
With more permission, I excitedly waited to get inside the house again with my camera, when the man turned to me and said, “YOU – cannot go inside.”
“I have the owner’s permission.” I argued.
“This house has been condemned by the fire department. No one except the owner and her agents can enter.” His tone couldn’t be sterner.
“Who are you?”I asked.
“I worked for them,” he pointed to the owner. He did the restoration work.
I looked at the owner, hoping she would say something in my favor.
But she said, “well, if he says no, then … no.”
The man must have been satisfied. He turned to an agent from an insurance company and talked their business with chuckles. Then he turned to the owner and her son and explained to them what he would do in the house.
“We will measure a lot of things in the house… You are welcome to stay, but it’s boring. You don’t have to be here. It’s really boring. It’s boring, really. You don’t have to be here, though you are welcome to. You don’t have to be here, unless you want to learn something.”
It seemed he didn’t like anyone, including the owner, to watch him work. I hope he is honest and trustworthy, not someone who is trying take advantage of people who know little about house restoration after fire damages. As I was thinking, I was happy to hear the son say,“I’ll stay. Maybe you can teach me something.”
The pictures from the basement were taken with light from the tiny torch. For a moment, I thought, this is not ambient light, should I consider this honest documentation? After some thinking, I decide it is honest, as there is no light there, and anyone who wishes to go down and take a look needs some artificial light. What I photographed is just what I saw with the help of a tiny torch.