Denver Street Photography | Crumple Zone

I walked into this scene and as a photographer I could not resist the urge to take a snapshot. When I realize they were both staring at me I approached the man and told him “I’m sorry, I just couldn’t resist. Are you okay?” He immediately let his guard down and proceeded to tell me in great detail what happened. His girflriend or wife suddenly moved me aside gently with her arm, looked at him and said “Don’t talk.”

I was thinking about this encounter and how I felt immediately after it. I realized what I have suspected all along, that to be a photographer is to be hated. To this woman, I was the enemy. A stranger documenting a crash on a public street, but the man did not give me that same reaction. He trusted me from the start, and only stopped talking after his wife told him not to. I guess opposites really do attract.

I told her she didn’t have anything to worry about and I went on my way. The lesson I took from this is that to be a photographer, you need to have a thick skin. I take these moments, and I internalize them. I go over them in my head over and over again, replaying everything that happened and everything that was said. I think about her facial expression, and the mans dumbfounded look right after his wife shusshed him. I wonder what the cop on the scene thought about me talking to the driver and taking pictures. I worry about what she is saying at the dinner table and to her co-workers about me. Is she calling me a dirty photographer with no respect for privacy? Is she wondering and worrying if I am going to do something bad with the photographs? I think about all of this, and many other aspects of what happened constantly, and I do this with every experience I have in life. Photography wise, I truly cannot resist getting the image. I am a little aprehensive and shy before every single photo I take, but if am drawn to what I see, the shyness subsides and curiosity wins out.

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Denver Street Photography | Crumple Zone

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11 thoughts on “Denver Street Photography | Crumple Zone

    • I thought about how I would react as well, and I’m perplexed. I know if I had not done anything wrong, and was innocent of any wrong doing I probably wouldn”t object, thinking about it from a photography perspective. If I had something to hide though, I probably wouldn’t like it at all. I think in this instance, the lady was smart to tell her husband not to talk. I am a complete stranger, they don’t know my intentions at all, I think it is good to be vigilant in today’s world. The romantic side of me wishes the world wasn’t a place where none of us as human beings can trust each other. I wasn’t angry, and I thought the woman handled it very respectfully. I’ve gotten a lot worse reactions than that!

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    • I didn’t think of whether it was polite or not. Good point. I guess I should mention that I have been taking these types of shots as practice for spot news assignments in my Photojournalism class. I don’t normally just go around chasing car wrecks! 🙂

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  1. I understand your concerns. Its hard to know what qualifies as a personal moment that shouldn’t be intruded upon by a stranger. The fact that you spoke with them changes it though. Had you carelessly snapped and left then you remain more a stranger. there is little in this world that is not documented. Your shot is not an in their face intrusion. You still showed concern.

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  2. I’ve had the same sorts of issues, especially when I take photos of kids. Kids have such great personalities that show on their faces when they are playing (i.e. at a festival or a park) which is why I like taking photos of them, but I understand that some parents aren’t comfortable with strangers photographing their children. I always have an internal debate before actually photographing them, and I oftentimes ask first.

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  3. As photographers, not only do we have physical cameras around us, but our minds are mental cameras too which we instantly replay over and over again (whenever we want)…which is a good thing and a bad thing. I don’t think you were being malicious at all at what you were doing, but then again, it was two different worlds and states of mind colliding that day. She could have been more polite towards you as you were to them. You seemed gracious to how she acted towards you.

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    • I really didn’t approach the situation with any ill intent and it was easy to put myself in her shoes. I initially took offense to her distrust but that feeling went away pretty quickly and the last thing I wanted to if was make their day worse. The other day my girlfriend told me “don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness” and that was really what I was doing

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  4. I’m not even a street photographer, I usually do nature shots. But I’ve had the same odd experiences. I was even threatened by a couple teens while I was snapping shots of a few birds in a tree. There’s a difference between observational photography and the intrusive kind. For whatever reason people don’t always seem able to differentiate.

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