Jon Crispin's Notebook


Posted in People by joncrispin on 20/11/2011


When I first started wandering around with a camera, it seemed very easy to photograph people in public.  No one paid much attention to me and I wasn’t self-conscious about snapping pictures.  Something has changed in the last few years.  I totally understand it; people are nervous about why someone would be photographing them.  Just after I took this shot, this woman looked up at me and I felt kind of bad.  The really cool image would have been her looking at me and smiling, but there is no way I could have taken that shot nowadays without her being startled and possibly upset.  I often try to engage with people so that I can get their permission to take a photo, and I really should have done it here.  I am sure she would have been more than happy if I offered to send her a print.

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6 Responses

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  1. Kristina said, on 20/11/2011 at 6:00 pm

    Interesting to hear another photographer describe that change in public sentiment about having a picture taken. I’m very self-conscious about taking shots of individuals anyway (stealth is not my strong suit), but in the past year or so when I’ve ventured out in public to take people shots I’ve found that people seem to be very sensitive to the presence of a camera (one that’s not a point-and-shoot), and not in a positive way.

    Nevertheless, you got a wonderful shot. Yes, it would have been great to have been able to capture her looking up and smiling, but you’re right…..we don’t seem to live in that kind of world anymore…..sadly.

  2. RobW said, on 20/11/2011 at 8:34 pm

    I was thinking recently about how in college in the early 90s, I often found myself myself at a few of the local Malls because it was a great place to get candid shots of people who weren’t the least bit self-conscious about being photographed. (I also never bothered to try and get releases, since it was all for school work, and most times just getting used to knowing what I was doing.) I still have negatives & prints taken at the children’s “play courts” and think how these days trying to do something as innocent as taking pictures of other peoples’ kids would very likely land you in jail, if not beaten severely regardless of the intent.

    I ended up sticking more to shooting the punks & metal-heads, at least they seemed to thrive on the attention and there was less chance of incarceration.

  3. Theanne L Crossett said, on 20/11/2011 at 10:53 pm

    I’m a very very very amateur photographer…I try to take photos with no people…I’ve often had the feeling that it makes people uncomfortable to be photographed by someone they don’t know…and they have no way of knowing if their photo is going to end on Facebook or the like!

  4. mephibashef said, on 21/11/2011 at 5:30 am

    cameras and the idea of capturing images are quite interesting. I love to have one handy because you never know when something noteworthy, unique or interesting presents itself. I love the photo… and i think you have a sense of sensitivity that makes taking such photos ok. love your work on the psych hospital.. quite interesting.

  5. Kelly said, on 22/11/2011 at 4:45 pm

    It is so great hearing someone else talk about this. I actually have been doing my people shots more with a point and shot exactly because it seems no one cares as much. In NYC, there is also an issue taking photos in the subway. It is legal, but cops will still harass you about it.

  6. meetzorp said, on 30/11/2011 at 7:31 am

    I absolutely do not like having my picture taken, especially without my consent, and if I catch myself in somebody else’s viewfinder, I am likely to speak up. I try to be humorous about it, like “hold that itchy trigger finger” or make some wisecrack about being undead so my image wouldn’t “take” anyway. I don’t get grumpy or snappish, but I definitely don’t just stand there like a tree in the landscape.

    As a hobbyist photographer myself, I am very conscious about this. I take photos wherever I go, and if I see someone with an awesome outfit, a really cute dog, or doing something unusual, and I decide I really, really need to capture the moment, I ask. Even if it scotches the spontaneity of the moment. I’d rather ask and have a less perfect” image than not ask and piss off a total stranger. I guess it’s a practical application of the old “do unto others” rule.

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