I've never particularly enjoyed sticking my camera in peoples' faces, I don't like confrontation as a rule and some people just don't like being photographed, even if you ask nicely.

Despite that, I'm somewhere between adventurous and stupid when it comes to walking around the "bad" parts of town. My son, 24 years old today, compiled his senior project on graffiti by working through the worst parts of Boston with his Nikon slung around his neck and found gang members so proud of their work that they not only guided him to the best tags, but willingly posed for him. It was a terrific project, and he's done more of that work since.

I recall one incident in DC a few years back where I was wandering around Northeast, trying to find my frequent urban subjects of comic irony and decayed infrastructure remade into new uses. It was getting late and darkness was falling, but I had been looking down into my Rollei's groundglass to the point where I had become oblivious to my surroundings since I was having so much fun.

I was about to step off a streetcorner into a crosswalk when a "pimped out" little Toyota screeched to a stop right in the middle of the crosswalk. Both driver and passenger got out, the driver wore a lot of bling, a dew rag covered his head and his Oakland Raiders jacket was a couple of sizes too large. I guess I was too stupid or naive to think much when he shouted to me above the din of the traffic, "Hey! What you got there?"

"It's an old Rollei," I said, probably sounding like a character from the Brady Bunch. He looked at me with curiosity for a couple of seconds.... then sort of frowned...

"Planar or Tessar?" he asked.

The guy was a photog, owned a graphics business and had always wanted to shoot 6x6. I toured his studio, he bought me a beer and I have him the addies for some reliable dealers. He still sends me a Christmas card.

Moral of the story of course, is that you can't judge a book by its cover and the trepidations we might feel about some areas or people may be based more on stereotypes than reality.

Ever had a photographic experience like that? One where you thought you had gotten in over your head in some sort of danger (physical or human) that proved to be an illusion?