i found a hand-written a-board outside a shut charity shop. “it’s back! by popular demand! the sale rail!” it said, quite understated. i wanted it to be the focus of the shot but still to have a human element, so waited for someone to appear in the distance whilst cornering an available drain-pipe and shop frame.
once i got my shot, i head a bit further up to a bakers, wandering in to get some breakfast and a coffee. placing my camera down on the counter to rest my wrist, i catch the back end of the ladies’ conversation: “…. and he was taking a photo of a DRAIN PIPE!”, just as one of them turned around to take my order. i wasn’t sure whether to say anything (“yes, but have you SEEN that drain pipe?!”) but didn’t. i just smiled inwardly and waited.
i left (with camera) to head back outside into the sun whilst their conversation skipped onto another topic.
next door to the bakers was a newsagents with one of those info windows where people can advertise or request services, products. i was quite happily framing a shot (having forgotten the ladies in the bakers), when i heard a voice. initially i didn’t think she could have been talking to me.
“what ARE you doing?” shouted the 50-something lady – a new customer at the bakers – leaning towards, with an incredulous expression (the bakers-ladies lined up behind and either side of her, looking on with anticipation).
now, the vast majority of people i meet are interested in what i am taking photos of and why in a kindly way. they recognise that i am there because i see something of beauty. but every now and then i meet people who really are not comfortable with me and/or my camera. i don’t know if it’s because i look suspicious. i suspect it’s got a lot to do with fear of the unknown; they are not used to street photographers taking an interest in their community. i know that they cannot see exactly what i am seeing so i try and make myself available to put people at ease where i can.
but i think there is a way to ask – i didn’t really appreciate her accusatory tone. i wasn’t annoyed but i thought i’d have some fun.
not wanting to shout, i re-entered the bakers and replied “i’m a street photographer, i’m taking photos”, looking down at my camera. “i like the shop front next door. i’m not taking photos of you. is that ok?”
“yes” she replied.
“what are you doing” i continued, smiling, “buying bread?”
she looked at the bread sat on the counter, “yes” she said.
the ladies behind the counter said nothing. i left.
i know i need to be aware of other people around me and respect that some people feel uncomfortable having their photo taken. it is for this reason, mainly, that i tend not to listen to music whilst shooting anymore (though i also find it more relaxing to hear sounds of the city and nature). the odd hello, brief conversation and longer chat also help me feel more connected to the people and places that i visit. even the bakers.
thank you for reading don’t forget the sun. take care. k x