RFT Asks: Who Is This Photographer in Downtown St. Louis?

Scott Cummings had free miles on Southwest so he randomly flew to St. Louis to make photos

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click to enlarge Scott Cummings stands in a blue jacket with glasses handing from a t-shirt underneath. He holds a camera. The Arch is in the background.
BENJAMIN SIMON
Scott Cummings was stopped by the RFT while taking pictures of the Arch from the Old Courthouse steps.

Around 1 p.m. on a cold Monday in December, a man walked up the steps of the Old Courthouse, a camera around his shoulder. He turned around to take a photo of the Arch when I stopped him. The man was Scott Cummings.

This interview is edited and condensed for clarity.

What brought you out here today?

I live in the Dallas area. I was given a free pass to fly on Southwest Airlines. I was on my way from Dallas to Oklahoma City. That didn't work out. So I randomly picked St. Louis. I'm just out here for the day [from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.] doing street photography.

That's cool! Do you normally do stuff like that?

I'm a retired schoolteacher, and I have a startup photography company. So I do everything from stock to fine art to design work. I just love shooting, being out with my camera, and the exploration of it, different cities. So I did minimal research — just enough to get from the airport, take the MetroLink to downtown, walk around and be surprised.

What have you done during the four hours you've been here?

I saw the [Citygarden]. I checked out your old warehouse district and Busch Stadium. But I like older architecture, [and] there's some art deco stuff I saw. Some dilapidated buildings that I think you guys are gonna gentrify. The White Knight [Diner] sandwich shop — that was real retro. I popped my head in there. Folks were friendly. Took a few shots.

Is this your first time here?

Yeah. First time.

Anything surprise you? What's your first impression?

Downtown is a little bit more — maybe it's a post-COVID thing, maybe it's a cold day ... but it's not as populated. It feels a little bit desolate. But I'm cool with that. Because that's atmosphere. You can get some cool shots off.

What did you know about St. Louis coming in?

St. Louis Cardinals. The Arch. I'm kind of checking it out right now. This doesn't feel like a great angle [of the Arch]. It's kind of a dreary day. But I'll explore, and then I’ll hit [the area] south along the river. I think the river is close by, right?

Right there, yeah.

And there’s supposed to be a graffiti park [south of the Arch]. So I'm interested in that. Because in Dallas, I've been documenting two graffiti parks over the last two years. So I might actually have a showing on one of them. So I've got some interest in that.

So when did you start being a photographer?

I've always enjoyed photography, and I was able to retire two years ago. I'm 63 now. So I'm at the point in life where I still want to work and be active, and I just love photography. I just love being out taking pictures. It's kind of a way to meet people, to explore, to learn, keep your brain sharp.

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