BERKELEY, Calif. — It’s 9 a.m. and folks unpack folding tables and neatly arrange their artisanal crafts upon them. These vendors often go unnoticed; they seem to blend in with the background of the streets. It may be instinct to some to drive stereotypes about their seemingly simple lifestyle, but it’s in this simplicity that many of these vendors have found happiness in their lives.
While most large cities in America are defined by their bustling sensibilities, many locales on the West Coast has become synonymous with hosting relaxed lifestyles. Some may claim it’s the open spaces and lack of crowded cities that encourage the comfortable vibe. However, the tranquil atmosphere of Berkeley is rooted within the residents themselves.
On a street corner there is a man sitting behind two tables packed with photographs of practically all the sights California has to offer. Louis Cuneo smiles as he begins to explain why capturing these moments is something he has worked so hard for. Here, a man with a passion for writing and photography, has managed to turn it into an occupation that he loves.
He was originally from New York’s Greenwich Village, then he migrated to California. “I never expected to have any money in my life, so I came here. The sunshine is free,” he said.
Originally he wrote haiku’s about today’s lifestyle, in time having more than 14 books published under his name. He said, “You only have 17 syllables – I wrote myself out of words because I have nothing to say, really.”
He never believed that he would have enough money to get into photography, which he classifies as what used to be a “rich man’s sport.” He describes his handmade table and crafts as “the only item sold on these streets that’s not based on self-adornment.” He chooses to capture scenes rather than people, the exception being when people become part of the scene. He said this while holding up a picture of a mother and her child on a local street. Other pictures display sights such as the Golden Gate Bridge and the clock tower of the University of California.
His face lights up when a customer walks to his table and begins browsing through his work.