Once in Bayou La Batre, as I was waiting for the Blessing of the Fleet, I observed a number of quaint and (to me) strange events going on among the locals. Kids ten years old and younger smoking in plain sight, for instance. I took no pictures; I had no interest in photography at the time.

Kids smoking in front of their mothers-- it's not something I ever saw even among my then-to-be-wife's family in the Alabama hills (a rather primitive and poverty-ridden area; the lower Apalachians, and a target of LBJ's War on Poverty ((out houses, no runing water)) )when I first visited them 40 years ago. I had no interest in photography at the time, but the region, its people, and their condition affected me a lot. Had I taken snapshots back then, would I have been exploitative? Had I included the smoking Cajun kids with the bishop blessing the fleet, would that have been exploitative? How could an observer, looking at a snapshot or two, have devined my intentions? Would my intentions, whether selfish or altruistic, affect the viewer of my images; sully or enhance his experience?

Images are images, and they have their own voice. Even the Nazi's images of their concentration camp inmates shout volumes regardless of the photographers' intentions.

One can be skeptical of why another does anything, but to add this personal assessment to photographs seems to me absurd. Take from them what you will. Truth is appropriated by the perceiver according to Kierkegaard.

Just my 2 cents.

K.