And he didn't really set anyone aflame, that's just your eyes playing tricks on you. Shot with a 200mm lens from a distance of only about 75 feet away, all planes-foreground, midground and background-are compressed together, so it only seems like the gentleman with the crossed ankles and folded arms has burst into flame.
I love shooting people in a crowd with that lens. You can get so close and intimate from far enough away that no one feels conscious of the camera. It leads to a more natural, more relaxed photograph. Being amidst a street performance was wonderful; I could shoot without restraint, since no one was paying attention to me, and I could pretend to be shooting the show. Which I was doing as well.
Tony Vera was a great performer, and eating fire (or more spectacularly, spitting fire), was only part of his schtick. He balanced bicycles on his chin, he balanced metal folding chairs with small children in them on his chin. He told jokes. He riffed on the crowd. He had about forty-five to fifty-five minutes of material, and through the hierarchy of the group of weekend performers in
Tony moved to the west coast not long after this picture was taken. Since then he's been doing his act on weekends in