One reason I moved to Mount Pleasant more than 20 years ago was because it reminded me of my time as a Peace Corps volunteer in Honduras in the 1980s. The smells, the sounds, the music and conversations, all spoke to me.
About nine years ago I began photographing Mount Pleasant Street NW. My son, Luca, was about a year old and I merged one passion with another: being a good father and taking photographs. With my plastic Holga (yes, the toy camera turned art student icon) in one hand and pushing my son’s stroller with the other, I would take to the area streets. It became something of a daily meditation, and a way to get my son to sleep.
I would sometimes walk Mount Pleasant Street three or four times seeking the right moment, the right light, the right personality to capture with that Holga.
Over the years, in the age of digital everything, I was experimenting with a cheap plastic camera that held a plastic lens and had two exposure settings, sunny or cloudy. The focus settings were simple too: close, medium close and far away. It was liberating.
I focused mostly on the street, but found some of the more intimate moments were inside longtime establishments. I shot what I felt and often found myself with happy, magical accidents.
The white streak on the left side of the girl in a restaurant seems like a ghostly curtain, but it’s a combination of a light leak and double exposure. There are shots of places such as Dos Gringos, a cafe, and Hellers Bakery. It opened in 1928 but closed in 2014 after it couldn’t reach an agreement on rent. Pfeiffer’s Hardware is now Old School Hardware.
Luca is 10 and I still try to photograph with him as much as possible. He recently purchased a go pro camera with his savings
and is taking his own photographs.
Mount Pleasant’s soul still shines through my Holga. I want to believe that I was capturing what was fun, what was important,
what was real.
Michael Bonfigli is a Washington DC-based photojournalist, a former Peace Corps volunteer with a master’s degree in education. His work in the north coast region of Honduras has been widely published and exhibited and is being edited for a book. He is also a founding member Metro Collective, an international coalition of photographers.