And from the get go I’ll clarify that; I do not mean it in a sense of sexual pleasure. More so I mean a voyeur in the innocent and possibly french origin of the word, to see. To observe something you don’t directly relate to… tenuous, innit?
I think I very much want to take photos of people, and things, that I …shouldn’t. Take that window for example, I deliberately wanted you to see the window frame, I wanted you to know I was looking in from the outside. I saw the vases, clock, mantle, I was immediately drawn into a thought of, “who are these people, what do they do?”. I pulled up the camera, focused (hardly) and shot. I tried to observe a few rules of composition and I desperately wanted to expose for both the window reflection and the inside. But other than that, this was me, seeing someone’s sitting room and feeling a naughty (but not sexual!) impulse to shoot.
The photo below is in the same vein. I’m shooting with a 24mm lens here, so to fill the 1.6x crop frame with something the size of a paperback novel, I’m 30cm away from it. What does that entail? Me seeing an interesting panel of lights in the gloaming, walking through a gate, up the stairs, into someone’s porch, stopping and messing about try to get a photo wide open and at 1/15 trying to breathe steady, and get the shot. Why? Sure, it’s a funky looking panel of lights, but something inside me stirred and I thought, “I want that shot”.
Where does this take me? When I’m reviewing photostreams of some genuinely talented, gifted and expressive people, I’m starting to levitate to shots of people. Not just things. People vs. Things. People. I saw an image today of a very, very annoyed but rather pretty girl being photographed from across the street. It’s a great image, the colour, tone, contrast, composition is wonderful, but the girl - she makes it. I’m starting to notice that some of the photostreams I’m viewing are doing things like this. I have no idea if the bodies and minds above these feet (courtesy of milesbowers) know if they’re being photographed, but I hope not. I would much prefer they didn’t know. I’m starting to look at work of the late great Henri Cartier-Bresson. A man who defined reportage, a man whose candid captures of life and the world started a revolution in photography.
I feel like I’m on the cusp of a photographic enlightenment. I feel that sneaking around photographing peoples’ doors and windows is a beginning to something, … something … I’m lost for a word, something alternative.
Although it isn’t my first foray. I suffered a decent set-back a few months ago, a dent to my photographic gumption. Outside the local shop on a pillar that once supported a post box, a hooded, tracksuited, sneakered, crew cut youth sat. In the twilight, out of his mind on something, I instantly saw the photo in my head. The Baldamatic would capture it at about ƒ2.8 1/40s and I’d have the shop to the left, car park to the right, chavvy drugged out kid on the right third, I’d crouch to get his face, drooling into his sweater. It’d be a perfect capture, it’d say something. I got close enough (with a 45mm prime) to get the shot, and my heart sank, my gut wrenched and my mind exploded in panic. He must’ve been all of 13. A kid. Not a youth. A young man. A child. I fumbled and shuffled. I did not want to take a photo of a child. At all. Even typing this post with the words voyeur and child within 100 words of each other makes me uncomfortable.
That was not the set-back.
He looked up, became cognisant of my presence and gave me a confused and angry look which demanded an explanation. " I w-w-w-w-w-wwwas photo, take, going to take, not really, you, was, thinking, but photo, where are your Mum and Dad?!“ More confusion, a further infuriated face, and the door to the store now behind me opened, his four very leery friends became a looming presence behind me. He was the youngest of a crew and I was in trouble. I hopped skipped and jumped out of there, their confusion and conversation giving me a few seconds to leg it.
So, will I have another go at photographing people, without consent? I think so. I see the compositions in my head sometimes. I see the photos I want. I see colourful and captivating characters and want their photos. So I’m going to try it.
I’ll leave you with two more photos.
One, the same store as the angry kid, but with a more willing subject.
Two, a professional beggar in Belgium, she gave me the evil eye and I gave her some Euro.