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Sometimes I feel as I fall in love a little bit with everyone I meet. I am continually baffled by how something so minute as a freckle, a flash of light in someone’s eyes, a certain air of defiance can be so absolutely intoxicating. When paired with a hint of a story, the permutation is unequivocally irresistible. Photographer Garry Bowden captures these fragments of individuals, the Souls of San Francisco, and disperses glimpses into their inner workings. With a photo and a story for each face, Bowden paints a story of the culture of the city with chance interactions on the street; denoting each character in his or her raw form, imparting visceral beauty and inspiration in the day-to-day. His work allows us to see each other as individuals as well as connect with each other, recognizing that we are all the same in emotions, sensations, anguishes, ambitions, delights. tumblr_n26wocel4S1r5zl3lo1_1280 “I love my pictures,” Bowden said. “I think they capture the essence of a person—their soul. If you stare at the eyes for a while the pictures start to vibrate because the energy of that person lives in the photograph. The pictures contain so much energy because they’re internally focused. Some of the photographs capture the outside of the person, their clothes and whatnot, but by and large the pictures are about people’s inner world.” IMG_8254 A filmmaker at heart, Bowden realized after finishing his last short film that he needed more support and resources in order to grasp the types of ideas he has for movies. With a burning desire to continue to “make art,” he decided to visit his friend Brandon in New York when “Humans of New York” was still in it infancy. He was so moved by the project that he decided to launch a version in San Francisco. IMG_7484 Since its initiation two and half years ago, Souls of San Francisco has resonated on such a level that Bowden has released two books, “the best way” to show his work, he says. “I’m really happy with the way it’s shaping up. I can see the growth I’ve experienced reflected back to me in the work and that feels really special.” IMG_9082 Moving forward, he’d like to see his work “everywhere” as a channel that allows people to be “more connected and aware”: on the sides of buses, billboards, and the SF MOMA, similar to the Garry Winogrand exhibit with large wall-to-wall images covering each room, some 30 feet high. “Think about how much cooler it would be to see someone’s face on the side of a bus instead a fucking Banana Republic ad.” PageImage-509010-4688187-IMG_9675 As with any artist pursuing understanding through their creative journey, Bowden maps his own passage using photos and film as his compass. “I’m trying to be a clear conduit for consciousness. I’m following my curiosity and letting the flow teach me through my experiences. I’m also documenting my own path of enlightenment, as well as the collective awakening we’re experiencing now.” tumblr_n4e84gW1iu1r5zl3lo1_1280 He divulges that the project has changed him and his perspective as seen in some of his most memorable pieces: 1. I took [my mother’s] picture on Clarion Alley in front of this trippy background. I love that picture because it captures a mother’s love for her child, which is one of the most pure things there is, and because it helped me to see my mom in a new way. She’s worked in a lot of corporate environments to support me as a single parent so I thought we were really different because I’m an artist, but when I saw her in that picture I realized how psychedelic she is. I could see the cosmic lineage she passed on. IMG_9870 2. Another one is of this young Indian student with the rainbow prism behind his head. He was feeling heavy under the weight of his father’s expectations. He was [a] business major at UPenn when he really wanted to be going to photography school. As I was asking him about school I could see the feeling of independence erupting inside him. It was like we captured the moment of him going from a boy to a man. IMG_0037 3. Finally I’d say a picture of one of my soul mates Mei-Ling. We were talking about a lot of different things and when I went to take a picture of her I felt like she was looking at me. I usually don’t feel that way, I usually feel like I’m looking at the other person. She could really see me though. So that picture holds the energy of two soul mates recognizing each other. I’ll always be grateful for that moment. IMG_1958 His most current project is a screenplay, the fourth film in a double trilogy about his family with each representing a generation. This one is about his own life. “I feel like film is the best way to communicate ideas on a mass level…It’s so many different art forms merged into one that becomes far more than the sum of its parts. Photography is great too because you can communicate things visually that are beyond words.” IMG_4703 Crucial to producing truth in art, Bowden discusses finding and maintaining balance, and taking time out everyday to sit at his altar with his crystals and center himself. In order to capture an honest image, he says that there must be an energy exchange with the person that, he discloses, can sometimes be overwhelming. “More and more, I’ve been making time to slow down and feel things in a deeper way. It’s really easy to get caught up in the external world, but there’s so much going on inside if you make space for quiet reflection.” IMG_4382 He goes on to state that it is vital to stay honest to himself in order for his work to truly resonate, and to continue to do the work that inspires him and not just product that will get a lot of likes on Facebook. “It’s important to pay attention and be awake. Specifically to me it’s the disproportionate suffering I see in the world based on race and class. I just moved to Oakland last month because I wanted to be more connected to earthy people, and my roots. I’ve been exploring the higher realms for some time. The time of descent into the earth and its texture is up next.” tumblr_n5s90z7VMz1r5zl3lo1_1280 Accordingly, he states that he has no secrets in the sense of there being things about him that no one knows. “I obviously don’t share everything with everybody but I’ve shared every part of myself with someone at one time or another.” IMG_9721 Already living the life of his dreams, Bowden says he has a lot more to do including finishing the five books of his project, traveling the world taking from each culture, making the double trilogy about his family, raising a family, making a classic record, growing his own food, and much, much more. IMG_2736 “I want to live my essence and leave a trail of light in my wake. Hopefully the record of my journey will inspire other people to live their truth.” IMG_0140 The last thing he learned? “I’ve been reading this book called “Emotional Equations” by Chip Conley and it’s really accelerated my growth. The chapter I just read today was about Integrity. The equation in the book is Integrity = Authenticity + Invisibility + Reliability. I feel like each chapter speaks specifically to things I need to become more conscious of to fully develop: authenticity being trying to unmask and equalize your public and private self; invisibility being doing righteous things without having to get acknowledged for them; and reliability is being able to be consistent in your expression of your integrity.” IMG_9580