Calvin Williams is affectionately called “The Shoeshine Guy” around Coconut Grove. Ever since I moved here, I regularly run into him walking the sidewalks making his rounds to the neighborhood cafes. When I first asked Calvin if I could photograph him for this exhibit, he declined. But the 2nd time, he agreed.
Calvin explained that he grew up in “Georgia Southern.” No, not Southern Georgia as he corrected me. And then in 1968 he moved to New York City for 4 years and has been in Miami since 1972. The entire time, actually since he was 15 years old, he has been shining shoes.
Calvin wished to tell the next person in my project: “Stay in the right lane. Don’t get in the left.” His metaphorical wisdom, he explained, is quite simple: Just like when you’re driving, if you stay in the right lane, you can’t go wrong. So, in life you should do the right thing. Spend time with the “right” people and stay away from the “wrong” people. And you can’t go wrong. He said some older friends taught him this lesson years ago and it’s served him well.
And he does a great job shining shoes — my loafers looked brand new!
Calvin is the 27th subject in my photography exhibit: #YouWowMe – the first-ever photography project to combine portraiture and personal words of inspiration which are passed to the next person — i.e. a “pay it forward” of inspirational photography.
To view more of these inspirational portraits, go here.
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