If you live in Oakland you can't help but notice the graffiti that covers most of the city. Since moving here, I cannot ignore that my landscape changes week by week. It has helped me pay attention to the politics that surround graffiti but also appreciate the art. Everyday on the way to work I bike by an oil change place that is always covered in graffiti. The roll up doors get painted over each week, and so do most of the walls, except for a spray character by iRot. The oil change guys sit in front of the wall in the perfect morning light, smoking and waiting for customers. For all of the reasons above, and out of fear that the character might get painted over, I have desperately wanted to take a photo.

I shoot mostly normal length lens cameras and am without anything telephoto, so I knew that I'd have to get pretty close in order to get the shot. My first attempt at getting the photo, I crusied in and asked a question about prices and snapped a quick photo with my point and shoot and rode off. Only 1/4 guys saw me, so I was pretty happy about that. When I got home that day I found out that my "trusty" p&s, had a broken film advance, and my roll didn't even take. I was bummed.

Determined to get the photo, I loaded some slide film in my more reliable point and shoot, and waited for a perfectly sunny morning. One came last week, and I pulled up to the place to a not-so busy staff. I up and asked them if I could take a photo of the crow. They looked at me weird, said sure, and moved out of the shot. I snapped the photo, but really wanted them in it. So, I asked them why they kept the crow but kept nothing else. The guys sat down, and told me that they kept it because they really liked it. I took another shot and can now bike to work without stressing. —Tim

photos by Tim Gatto