unless i am forced to by an employer,
i don't usually photograph people without their consent ...
it wouldn't have been hard to ask the lady and the guy if they minded
if you took their portrait(s) ...
and the lady would have stuck around ... and you could have waited for just right moment
without being sneeky ...
Originally Posted by Shawn Dougherty
The more you're out there, the more you'll miss. Comes with the territory. You just have to suck it up, and let it drive your passion. And shooting candids can be very hard on your psyche. I'm not unfamiliar with that feeling of spite, and you'll have to get it under control. You have to convince yourself
and hopefully truly believe that you are trying to bring beauty into the world, and not just sneaking around looking for prize winners. If you can manifest that feeling and honestly believe it, you will project a calm that might work magic on others. At least you won't come off as a hunter. Again maybe.
The camera brings up so much selfconsciousness and suspicion you have to learn different ways to mitigate it. In your situation, I might have very quietly said, " how beautiful" just enough that she would have thought it coming unconsciously from within me, and been charmed enough to preen a lttle.
See, I'm sneaky too. But I also believe in what I'm doing. Sometimes.
These are the two shots that got away... still think about them both now and then.
First I was working in northern Cambodia as a photographer for Doctors without Borders. There was still quite a bit of fighting going on at the time. We were driving to the hospital when we noticed a few fighters sitting in the shade outside a garage. I had the driver drop me off and said I would walk to work and try and get a few shots of the fighters. They were a rough looking crew but didn't mind me shooting up close. Most of them had their faces covered with bandanas anyway. At the time I was in a very pure photography stage.. no set-ups, don't change anything, Kodachrome on a M6 with a 35mm, etc... so although I noticed one of those on the shoulder type rocket launchers against the wall I didn't feel it was proper to have the guy throw it over his shoulder. The shots of the faces were great, and they all were holding AK-47's but boy I wish I'd have gotten him to hold that bad boy.... still can see it in my mind.
The other shot was at a pro-choice rally years ago when a group of pro-life supporters decided to hold a silent rally at the same time. One of the rally leaders was yelling into a megaphone right at the ear of the other party... I was only about 4 feet away but when I brought the camera up a wall of people formed between us and I got shoved out of the way. It would have been a great shot from up close with a 24mm but lacked the impact from a few feet back.
Anyway, missed them both... would-a, could-a, should-a I guess.
A sparrow hawk swooped down on my feeder one winter and caught a sparrow, maybe three meters away from my blind. What made me miss that one is that I had a teleconverter on the lens... No way of getting it off in the few seconds it took the bird to sort everything out and get away with his prey. I got a few badly cropped reminders of a sparrow's demise instead of thrilling hunting scenes. That was years ago, and I have spent many many cold hours in the blind since then, hoping for better luck. Needless to say it's a strong driving force for me now, and neither I nor the hawk have had that much luck again, but we both had quite a lot of other thrilling encounters.
Originally Posted by jnanian
I agree with you 100% in theory, but maybe 90% in practicality because I did cross that line. Honestly, I feel guilty about doing so.
This January/2008 marks my two your anniversary as an amateur photographer. Until that point, I had never loaded a peice of film, let alone used a camera. I remember a conversation with my Photo I instructor on how it is not against the law to take pictures of people in the public without their consent.
I told her that I would never cross that line. She responded by saying, "Yes you will, with time it becomes easier". I once again told her that I would never go down that path.
Until yesterday I had never photographed someone without their conscent. Had I asked for it I am absoloutely positive that it would have ruined the shot. The scene was perfect in my eyes; untainted.
I felt guilty while snapping the shots. All I could think of was that conversation that we had two years ago. That one sentece, "Yes you will, with time it becomes easier", replayed in my mind over and over again.
I knew she was right. During that moment it did become easier; and at an instant, I had become the photographer I said I would never be under no circumastances. Next week I will shamefully bite my words when I see her while informing her of this situation.
I do not plan to make this a habit, but now know that if necessary, I might cross that thin line yet again if the situation calls for it in my opinion. I plan not to, and hopefully I won't, but I refuse to say I will never do so again. We see where that has lead me. Once out of two years isn't all that bad. I guess?
Last edited by jamusu; 01-05-2008 at 12:37 PM. Click to view previous post history.
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If I may add just one more thought to this dilemma of should we take pictures of others without their consent. I once had this arguement with a person who was very adamant about the wrongness of this activity, having grown up in the political correct era, and finding victimhood at every turn.
I said if photographers don't photograph real people, who will? And what will be left of our image of ourselves as a culture? Answer, advertising, movies, TV. Certainly there might remain the posed pictures of consent. But documentary photos of people in the world, unremarkable, and without pretention? Gone. So get out there and learn how to manage this difficult task with confidence and a sense of mission. You are saving us from the painfully false image presented by commercial media.
you gotta do what you gotta do ..
just make sure u don't get punched
in the nose for doing it
I thank you much.
Both of your post's have been helpful as well as insightful. The shot that I took of the woman out of spite is not going to be usable anyway. It was on bulb for thirty seconds with people walking in the line of the shot the entire time. I will never do that again.
It was and still am surprised that I reacted in the manner that I did. I believe it had a lot to do with guilt, and the fact that this was the first time that I had taken documentary photos without the person's consent coupled with the fact that I did not get the shot that I wanted as a result of it.
I was attempting to bring beauty in the world as you stated rather than trying to be sneaky. I am glad you brought up that point. That is how I will view it in the future if the situation arises again.
Jamusu, you're welcome. With the right frame of mind, you'll discover what value there is in photographing people in the real world. Documenting the human condition is a serious calling. All the best.
I've bitten my tongue for a day after reading your initial post, but I must tell you that -- in Australia at least -- a public library is not a public place where aspiring street photographers may practise their cliches. A library is a place for reading and where many seek some solace from the streets and their denizens (I've worked in a few).
A fairly significant number of our clients in a CBD library were homeless and other indigent folk looking for sanctuary -- probably great subjects for yet another colourful folks shot, but I'm pleased to say that a photographer chasing some sort of glory by exploiting them would be promptly tossed out on his or her ear.
Regards - Ross