HELP WANTED: Why do people hate having their photo taken

Discussion in 'Leica and Rangefinders' started by cebes_johnson, Sep 14, 2004.

  1. Hello,

    I realize there are many professionals within this forum, however, I
    do hope some will take time to share their experiences and wisdom in
    this area.

    Being relatively new to photography and Leica, studying the old and
    modern masters, etc. I have become beyond all things rather
    frustrated and demotivated as to the simple fact as to why people so
    hate having their photo taken?!

    I could understand if you are with the mafia for example, however,
    this incorporates a small percentage of people.

    Do people really feel they are so important that I truly care about

    There was a time where people enjoyed having it, now, as a result of,
    perhaps the paparazzi, everyone seems to have a problem with it.

    I realize that cultures paly a role, however, not by much. I have
    traveled all over Europe and beyond, for lengths at a time, and the
    only cultures I have never had a problem shooting are the naive and
    innocent cultures where technology does not exist such as in most of
    the world.

    A recent thought, upon reading after the death of HCB, a post where
    someone said, "Look this guy thinks he's HCB or something," when in
    fact it was HCB (who related this story to a friend, and hence became
    known) who use a handkerchief to cover his camera pretending he was
    sneezing to get the shot.

    Many may muse at this, however, I dont like it.

    I go out with a hunter's mentality, yet I am not a thief. I do not
    want to feel like one.

    I read how great photographer make their subjects comfortable in a
    variety of ways, yet, as a flaw of mine. I am not a people person. I
    do not want to make love to them, and in 5minutes I will never
    rembmer who they were who so moved me for whatever reason to capture
    their image or whatever bit of reality I wished to capture.

    so, indeed, I am genuinely frustrated and quite frankly saddened at
    this stage of the game.

    I do hope some are able to see the heart of what I am trying to get
    at, I do not want to go on and is truly disturbing me.

    Is it the "paparrazi" that has ruined it for all?
    Will this be a continued part of my learning curve and something one
    must simply "get used to"?

    Help, thoughts, advice and experience on this one post would be more
    appreciated thatn any other you may contribute to.


    Cebes in Europe
  2. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    Are we talking about strangers in the street that hate their photo taken?

    I'm not sure if it's the paparazzi, but I do think it's the media sensationalizing it/us, and make us look like the bad guys once in awhile. It used to be a rare and highly respected craft that everyone cooperated with. I remember the sneers I suddenly started to get after Princess Dianna's death...from hero to zero in one incident.
  3. It could be a few things. One thing I see here is a widespread wave of ignorance that has swept across the USA since the twin-towers incident. Everything from people being nervous about their security when their picture is being taken (how??? I don't get it) to them outright screaming "TERRORIST!" covering their face and running away from someone who points a camera at them (yes, I'm serious). People are ignorant and somehow think terrorists walk through parks taking photos of birds.

    Two, maybe people are just self-conscious. I know I hate seeing photos of myself. People may see someone with a camera and think "AH! My hair is a mess.. and I have this old shirt on. I'm all sweaty from standing outside here. Now he's going to have me in a photo and be looking at me looking like a mess later." or maybe some people just don't feel confident enough about themselves and hate the idea of total strangers poring over their photos and staring at them in private later. Heck, that gives ME the creeps too.
  4. Here's part of the problem...
    You say the following things:

    "Do people really feel they are so important that I truly care about them!" and

    "I go out with a hunter's mentality" and

    "I am not a people person." and finally,

    "I do not want to make love to them, and in 5minutes I will never rembmer who they were who so moved me for whatever reason to capture their image or whatever bit of reality I wished to capture."

    A little bit of respect, compassion and genuine interest goes a long way towards breaking down the barriers between strangers. Long enough that you might even be able to make a good photograph. If you "hunt" your subjects, they'll run... like prey usually does. If you don't "truly care about them" it's unlikely that they'll truly care about you, either. Finally, if you've forgotten what inspired you to make a picture 5 minutes after releasing the shutter, chances are you didn't capture much of anything. If you're not a people person, try wildlife or landscapes. Get interested in your subjects and you will make interesting photographs (sometimes!)
  5. Simple answer: salesmanship.

    If, you in your quest for a good photograph, lack any idea of how to handle the situation, you will gain zip. On the other hand, if you are somewhat relaxed and spend a bit of time in light conversation with your subject, the 'salesmanship' required will generally net you a decent time with your subject.

    If you have a attitude, why do you expect your photo subject not to have a like attitude?
  6. I don't like having my picture taken. By anyone, for any reason. If i catch you trying, i'll
    smack the schtuff out of you.

    As for everyone else, you'd have to ask each individual person. There are no rules, and no
    way to apply some 'pop-sociology' rationalization to any population.
  7. Many people believe that they look ugly in picture. I show camera shy people their picture on the small screen and help them understand that if they are relaxed they will look much better. Once they understand that I'm on their side and once they trust me not to publish embarassing shots, they forget about me and behave naturally.

    The other thing that helps a lot is the photographers self assurance. If you look shy, people will notice and they will be more likely to challenge you. On the contrary, if you move around like you own the place people will take you for granted and leave you alone. Appearances go a long way !
  8. "If i catch you trying, i'll smack the schtuff out of you."

    Jay? Is that you?!
  9. I have to second Liam, lots of people like to have their photo taken
    and published!
    Photography is comunication and the way you comunicate with your
    subjects is the second step on your way to people photographie.
    The first step is what you comunicate. If you don't like the people
    you want to shoot, why waste film?
  10. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    Liam, great answer.

    Derek, not great at all.
  11. I'm a bit introverted but I don't mind having my picture taken _if_ I know what it's for. These days it seems like there's just no limit to the disgusting things people are capable of, and Photoshop and the internet have really made it a field-day for anyone to do anything with an image and publish it for the entire world. So perhaps that accounts for some increase in suspiciousness (or call it paranoia if you want to). Derek's comment and Kevin's reference to Jay brings up a point too, that is, I remember his comments were always regarding someone potentially photographing his little daughter(s?)and I think that if I had small children today I would be a lot more suspicious of a stranger photographing them than I was back when my son was a boy, and maybe even protective to the point of calling the cops on someone for taking photos. I don't think I'd smack someone though, unless he smacked me first.
  12. The worst place for carrying a camera, I've heard, is Jamaica. People threaten to beat you up even if you are just carrying a camera and never raise it to your eye.

    So stay away from Jamaica if you want to take photos unmolested. If you like Jamaicans, just wait a little. They're all immigrating here, anyway. And here they will be less dangerous because not so concentrated.
  13. In another life when I photographed people for professional purposes if someone complained about hating to be photographed my standard reply was, "well, how do you think *I* feel?!?"
  14. Randy Skopar , sep 14, 2004; 04:13 p.m.: ""The worst place for carrying a camera, I've heard, is Jamaica. People threaten to beat you up even if you are just carrying a camera and never raise it to your eye.
    So stay away from Jamaica if you want to take photos unmolested. If you like Jamaicans, just wait a little. They're all immigrating here, anyway. And here they will be less dangerous because not so concentrated."

    I have read few comments that are as blatantly bigoted as this one.
  15. Do people really feel they are so important that I truly care about them!

    Why are you taking pictures of them then?

    The biggest part of making good photographs (in any type of photography) is having a sincere interest in your subject. You don't seem to have any anything other than disdain for the people you photograph (even the ones you say don't mind - the "naive and innocent cultures where technology does not exist"). If you don't like people, are not interested in them, and have no respect for them, then you'll never make really good images of them.
  16. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    I agree with Vic. And I had no problem photographing people in Jamaica, I wish I had brought a better camera when I was there. Everyone was incredibly friendly. I don't think it's quite as friendly in Kingston, but that's a major urban area.
  17. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    and he's posted a few similiar ones too Vic.
  18. Some people are very suspicious and hate to be photographed - you can take whoever you like in a public place. I find it rather amusing and absurd when people object. Someone told me I had to "contact their agent" before I could take their pic - priceless - especially as she was, as far as any of us could tell, a complete nonentity (like me) and skating in Central Park. Frankly life is too short to worry about such people. Most people I find do not mind, but they do often get suspicious if you look as though you are evil or going to make money off them. This is perfectly understandable, so just try and act an appear "normal". Some people still put up their hand to cover their face - god knows why, but there it is. Don't worry, it is not just you, it happens to all of us - just stay cool and another opportunity will come along 5 mins later.
  19. They do not know what will be done with their photograph.
  20. Hey Randy! I know lots of Jamaicans. My accountant and my hair stylist are Jamaican, a lot of my friends are Jamaican. I spent a dozen years of my life living with a lovely Jamaican woman and helped raise her two sons. They're some of the nicest friendliest people I've ever known. I've never had a problem with taking photographs of them, even candid casual shots. Where you got that impression from me no know!
  21. Quite honestly when someone is taking your picture, you don't really have time to wonder whether they "sincerely appreciate you as a person" or just happen to want to take your shot because you are beautiful/hideous/weird or in Randy Heliar's case because you are of a "shockingly different" ethnicity. Few people really understand why they, as opposed to anyone else, needs to be in a picture when you do not know them so this reaction is quite understandable. I am asked many times who I'm taking the pics for, in other words if I am working for a magazine or paper. Sometimes I say yes, sometimes no. It is hard to tell what reaction saying one or the other will be. Sometimes I then get asked for "a cut" if I have said I do work for a magazine, sometimes it makes them a willing participant. Sometimes saying you are doing it "for yourself" makes them even more confused - it is often hard to explain to many why a sane person wants pics of complete strangers. Usually I find by the time I have finished explaining the moment has passed. Nevertheless, I personally find many people like to be photographed especially if they are in a happy mood.
  22. Al, surely you're joking. Randy is an admitted racist, and harbors views that are to the right of David Duke. In his world, you and I would be consigned to the ovens.
  23. Being photographed turns the subject from a person to an image or an object. So I can understand some reluctance to be photographed by strangers. Then again, what can you do with the photographs? Most publishers these days want model releases from anyone recognizable. As for Jamaica, it has a wide diversity of people and places. I generally ask, if only by pointing at the camera and then at the subject. I think I had only one person refuse on my last trip to Jamaica. All general statements, including this one, are false.
  24. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    "They do not know what will be done with their photograph."

    Paul, may i ask what you have seen done to photographs of strangers in street photogrpahs that would warrant any suspicion from them?
  25. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    The worst place for carrying a camera, I've heard,
    "I've heard." It's worth pointing out that some of the worst posts here come from people willing to talk in total ignorance of their subject.
    "I've heard" plenty of things too, but I don't go out and repeat them, along with their underlying racist assumptions, until I've experienced it myself.
  26. I know many people who don't like to be photographed by strangers. My own feelings are that in a democracy people's right to know what is going on outweighs others desire for privacy. If you want privacy, go in a closet. And if you don't want me to hear your cellphone conversation, keep your damned radio waves out of my livingroom. So there.
  27. "Look this guy thinks he's HCB or something," when in fact it was HCB (who related this story to a friend, and hence became known) who use a handkerchief to cover his camera pretending he was sneezing to get the shot."
    I've been doing a lot of research into Cartier-Bresson overthe past few weeks for an article I'm writing. As far as I can tell, He never did resorted to such trickery for three very simple reasons: 1.) he could not have composed as accurately as he consistently did. & 2.) it would have slowed him down, he had incredibly fast reflexes. 3.0 it would have called attention o himself, flipping around a handkerchief.
    People hate having their picture taken when they are unawares for a varety of reasons; primarily because they feel like their privacy (yes even in public) is being intruded on by a stranger for no obvious reason; because they may feel like they don't look good. Becasue most "street photographers" are so stupidly obvious about what they are doing and trying to hide what they are doing at the same time, because most "street photographers" don't take the time to get integrated into the everyday hubbub of their patch of turf that day: they are tourists and stand out like tourists: you need to learn H C-B's trick of making yourself "invisible".
  28. no long ago I started a thread that went somthing like this:
  29. I also bolive that peopple has always been like these.Before it was something where they would dress up and look their best and now it is very informal and documentary style where sometimes peopple does not feel countroble wiht that and like to porportrait thmeselves in a diferent in a "better"way.(reality) I am not fit,90% of the time I at work but I want to be remember with a suit rather than an apron.
  30. A friend of mine went to Jamaica and was badgered on the street whenever his camera was in view. Bob Shell, who used to write for various publications before he got into mucho trouble, once wrote an article about the same kind of abuse in Jamaica.

    I have no idea what makes this particular nation so hostile to photographers.
  31. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator Staff Member

    Having been to Jamaica, all I can say is that your friend must be unpleasant. There was absolutely no hostility to cameras when I was in Jamaica. There wasn't even a reason to bring it up in this thread.

    But I note from other threads that you are well-noted for rascist insults, so I'll chalk it up to that. The rest of us will shoot wherever.
  32. could it be that in our socity in the USA we have the abilty to communicate with each other at a moments notice no matter where you are, and that people may feel they cannot have time to themsleves anymore?

    first it was the telegraph then the phone,pager,cell phone, email, and GPS phones. a person cant hide unless they refuse to use a cell phone. you give out your number and people think you should answer your phone 24hrs a day.

    thats my take on it.
  33. I think the Internet has changed many things. Now, everybody thinks you're going to
    publish their face in some kind of porn "photo-montage".

    BTW, isn't Randy Skopar way beyond the guidelines of racist slurs on this forum? Then,
    why is he still tolerated? Unbelievable.
  34. Jeff and the others who call me racist: Is "Jamaican" now one of the races? Maybe so. Us Klansmen ain't educated.
  35. People photography often comes down to a certain rapport between subject and
    photographer and it's really no different when doing candid photography with
    strangers in the street. It's about how you carry yourself. Street work is about
    confidence and purpose if you appear uncertain hesitant or nervous then the subject
    will pick up on that. Cebes, if you go out hunting then your prey will see through you.
    If you have empathy for your fellow man then it usually shows through. Use your
    powers of observation, and learn to move on.

    The world has changed since the 1960s we are all more aware of the power
    photographic imagery can have. People are tuned in to that and are understandably
    suspicious of your motives.

  36. <<BTW, isn't Randy Skopar way beyond the guidelines of racist slurs on this forum?>>

    Quote the "racist slurs" I've made.
  37. Dorothea Lange said: "So often it?s just sticking around and being there, remaining there,
    not swooping out in a cloud of dust; sitting down on the ground with people?if you
    behave in a generous manner, you?re very apt to receive it."

    On a lighter note:

  38. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    nobody needs to Randy
  39. Randy:

    "... If you like Jamaicans, just wait a little. They're all immigrating here, anyway. And here
    they will be less dangerous because not so concentrated."

    It's all in the manner. The innuendos. And no, Jamaicans are not a race. It just so happens
    that the vast majority of them are black. Pure coicidence, of course.

    I could also quote you from a recent thread". Here are some excerpts:

    "A friend of mine is a cancer specialist. When he is going over charts at the hospital where
    he works, he can't think straight because of the din from the radios of some of the
    minorities in the shared office space. When he once asked that the noise be turned down,
    he was brought up on charges of racism... Another time, there was a lady under his care
    who was dying from cancer. She was in agony, so he ordered a morphine drip. The nurses
    refused to give it. They said the drip had to be authorized by the pain-management
    committee. The committee was off duty for the weekend, so this dying woman was
    tortured by terminal cancer for two days and nights before she was given even a drop of
    painkiller. And members of the pain committee were late for work on Monday, which
    caused a further delay.

    Now, listen carefully, please. When my friend filed a protest over the refusal of the nurses,
    the administration rebuked him for creating racial tension! It seems the nurses who
    refused the morpine drip were black.

    When my friend felt that the public should know about this, he wrote a journal article
    about it. Subsequently, he was was called in and told that his advancement in that hospital
    was over, and that further insubordination would bring "personnel action."

    This is all very quiet, nothing dramatic, no camps or stakes or dogs. But people are being

    What is alarming is that Americans have begun to nurture policies and messages that are
    contradictory to our body of law and values. We claim to be past all discrimination--
    indeed, we beat our chests about it--but we accept government-enforced policies that
    send white men to the back of some very important lines. We also tolerate openly bigoted
    messages about white Christian men in our political life, textbooks, and entertainments...

    Let me pose this to you. Under present conditions, you do not know if the minority doctor
    in your neighborhood is truly, even greatly qualified, or a quota clown. Because you don't
    know, you decide to go to a white male. You know damn well if HE got into medical
    school, he had great scores. And you know damn well there were no quotas mandating
    how many white man HAD to be graduated. And so you go to this white-male doctor,
    perhaps bypassing an excellent physician. Or perhaps saving your life from a charlatan.
    You don't know which. Thus Affirmative Action hurts everyone, even its supporters and

    And do you think we are not all hurt by the encouragement of bigotry against white
    Christian men? Do you not know that the target of the bigotry may change in time? Are
    you willing to risk hampering if not blocking the contributions of the very people--white
    men--who have been responsible for 99.44% of the advances in medicine, government,
    and technology?

    "Robert Bork, in his "Slouching to Gomorrah," describes how the curriculum and exam
    regimen at Harvard Medical School was watered down to make it possible for more
    minorities to get their degrees. There have been similar cases discussed, yes with
    documentation, also in a journal called "Academic Questions." Medical schools are cutting
    standards to avoid government lawsuits...

    You see, the medical schools face quotas not only in admissions but also in graduation.
    They HAVE to graduate a certain number of minority students...

    And don't forget what happened to the black student who was admitted to medical school
    instead of Mr. Bakke, triggering a Supreme Court decision. This black man must have
    developed a sense of entitlement about his medical privileges, because after he left
    medical school he soon killed a patient. He signed up for a three-day course in liposuction
    technique and only showed up for one of the days. Nonetheless, no one stopped him from
    doing liposuctions and he began doing them for extra money. He made a series of
    mistakes that killed a patient."

    "<<I have no problem in being treated by an African American doctor. I don't assume he
    has inferior qualifications, or is inferior in any way.>>

    That is an emotional response, not one based on the facts. The facts: your black doctor
    may be a world-beater, or he may be a charlatan. YOu just don't know! If medical schools
    are forced to admit and graduate by quota, then you do not know which minorities won on
    the merits and which won on the quotas.

    This is the other edge of Affirmative Action. It cuts one way by using quotas instead of
    merit, and it cuts another way by drawing a question mark all over the diploma of every
    minority M.D.

    Remember, when standards are lowered at Harvard so that more minorities can be
    graduated, then EVERYONE at Harvard gets a weaker education. If there were such a thing
    as a three-edged sword, this is the third edge."


    "If you think about it, if we are going to punish or reward people based on their ancestors,
    then white men should be simultaneously punished for the Jim Crows and rewarded for
    the scientists. So Affirmative Action cancels itself out. Also, if we award Affirmative Action
    favors based on whose ancestors were "oppressed," then everyone in the world qualifies...
    Affirmative Action is passed out to hold political coalitions in line, not to create some kind
    of "social justice." It has become a racial spoils system with injustice as its necessary
    condition and lower standards as its guaranteed outcome...

    Anyway, the question of inherited intelligence and such traits as the ability to delay
    gratification have been addressed in a vast body of work. Surely you don't expect me to
    summarize all that massive debate, unless, of course, you are baiting me...

    Even ignoring the scientific work, don't you think it would be foolish to block the
    descendants of the very people, so small in number, who have contributed such a
    disproportionate amount to our longer lives and comfort? Don't you believe in playing

    Is the man who invented air conditioning more likely to have children with scientific talent
    than a man who has never done anything in the scientific area? Again, you cannot predict
    with total accuracy, but the odds favor the children of the tinkerer. Could we block and
    marginalize white men and still get Fermi, Beethoven, Tolstoy, Lister, and Salk? There's no
    way to know. But would you run the risk of losing these people in order to have
    employment assigned by quotas instead of merit? Is the value of what you might get worth
    the value of what you might lose? Is a spoils system so valuable to you that you would be
    willing to risk the loss of cures for disease and inventions that make life better for us? Are
    you willing to block talent for the sake of block-votes? Well, some politicians are...

    In a long view of the world, it was only a few minutes ago when white people sailed around
    the world and made contact with dark people. There was a level playing field before that
    for a long time--while the races were isolated. Of course, farther back still, there was only
    once race. But I'm talking about the time after the dispersal of people into different parts
    of the world and the emergence of the differences that we can describe as racial. It seems
    likely that these differences were responses to different living conditions. The black skin of
    the tropical man seems, when compared to the pale skin of the northerner, pretty clearly
    an adaptation to environment. Such adaptations would take a tremendous amount of time
    to emerge; and it is that long time, while the races were differentiating and separate,
    about which I speak...

    After hundreds of thousands of years of this level playing field, Europeans established
    contact with other parts of the world. They found cannibalism, and human sacrifice. They
    found peoples with numbering systems no higher than two. They found peoples who had
    not invented the wheel. They found peoples who, although living next to placid bodies of
    water with fish in them, had not invented the boat. They found people who, although
    faced with regular famines, would develop no systems to preserve food nor go afield to
    find more food. And they found large numbers of peoples who had not developed iron,
    despite having fire and iron ore...

    Colonialism developed after this...

    We all know colonialism had a dark side, but it had a positive side and the dark side could
    be recovered from. The U.S. was a colony, but we took what was good from colonialism
    and did pretty well afterwards...

    I have no idea why the white peoples of the earth have been so inventive and resourceful.
    Writers have speculated that this emerged because of four-season climates and the
    necessities imposed by that. Others have written of dietary differences, and the
    adaptations necessary for successful hunting...

    So, concluding: The white people of North America and Europe have done good things and
    awful things, but they have left us with systems, treatments, and technologies that make
    better lives possible for all races. The average poor person of today has food, medicine,
    and shelter superior to that of tribal kings in pre-Colonial times...

    If we have in our country millions of white men descended from such a resourceful race, it
    is foolish to arrange policies that send these people to the back of the line in growing
    numbers of areas. We need their contributions...

    We need for young white men with high SAT scores to get into the colleges that can
    accommodate and challenge them. (It has been proven that SAT scores accurately predict
    college performance--and that is all they propose to do.) We do not need to block them
    out to hold seats for people whose scores are lower. There are lots of schools for those
    who do no qualify for the most brilliant schools...

    People have said that SAT scores are high among the "rich and privileged," and that high
    SAT scores among whites are the result of "wealth and privilege," and of course racism and
    taking advantage of helpless minorities. As if there were no middle-class minorities. But
    what is the truth? Low-income whites do better on the SAT than high-income blacks. And
    low-income Asians do even better than the whites! Wealth and privilege?

    We also have studies showing study patterns of high school students. The Asians study
    most, the whites second, and the blacks study least. And that's how the races stack up on
    the SAT. Wealth and privilege?

    And you have an occasional black student, from a poor family, who scores very high on
    the SAT. Wealth and privilege?...

    And while we are talking about the black middle class, let's mention another group that
    gets little attention in politics and the media: poor whites. The white guy from a
    desperately poor home is not described as facing great odds whereas the black kid from a
    middle-class home is. Bill Cosby's kids are eligible for Affirmative Action. John White's
    kids, mired in poverty, are not. As a matter of fact, a poor white boy has to go to the back
    of the college-admissions line along with his better-off mates. From that position, he can
    watch middle-class black kids with weak SATs and histories of not studying as they are
    escorted to the front. The white kid is "privileged" to watch this happening.

    Again I hear the cry, "But that's only justice! Black people used to be sent to the back of
    the line!" No, it isn't justice. The white kid at the back of the line was born long after Jim
    Crow. He has never been in a position to hire, fire, rent to, or refuse to rent to anyone. He
    is simply the victim of a political arrangement to hold together voting blocks.

    And in true 1984 fashion, this injustice is called "Social Justice," and the turning away of
    white talent is called "Affirmative Action." And the suppression of dissident viewpoints is
    called "inclusion." And the improvement of neighborhoods--if it is accomplished by white
    residents--is criticized as "gentrification...

    Affirmative Action was created in the courts, and it is fostered there. People have not been
    allowed to vote on it...

    <<white people are oppressed, vilified, and discriminated against?>>
    I've been talking about white men, not about white people in general. White women are
    eligible for Affirmative Action. They were made so for political reasons, not because their
    position in society is anything like that of minorities. As I said earlier, Affirmative Action is
    a political strategy, not an attempt to create justice. If Affirmative Action were not given to
    women, the single white women who vote for the Democrats would vote Republican. The
    coalition of the present Democratic Party is minorities and single white women. And they
    are held in the party by the bribe of Affirmative Action... Someone mentioned Arab
    inventions. Those were long ago, but, yes, we should appreciate them. As for some
    number of musical instruments developed in Africa, I never heard that before. I'll look into
    it; I'm curious. The musicality of black people is beyond question, of course. And similarly
    beyond question is the musicality of white people. Bach wasn't bad. And of course, the
    blues and jazz were developed by black people on a foundation of European music,
    especially church music. It always amuses me to hear people accuse Elvis of "stealing" the
    ""music of black people." If he is guilty of that, then the music he stole was stolen goods
    to begin with!..."

    Etc... etc...

    I rest my case.
  40. Olivier, I had made a final post to answer some of the questions by Philip T.; but it was cut, along with the entire thread. I'm glad you quoted at length. It comes down to this: To praise the achievements of women and minorities is PC. To praise the achievements of white men is racist. You could only call me racist if you subscribe to those premises.

    If a group is being slandered on racial grounds and is being hampered by penalties based on accidents of birth, it is certainly appropriate for a member of that group to complain. You praise Martin King for doing it; you condemn me for doing it.

    I have no more to say on the topic. I've yet to see someone refute my arguments, as opposed to calling me names.
  41. EricM

    EricM Planet Eric

    You won't get a rebuttal here. You've pegged yourself. It's not the place so go somewhere else. We've all been through it with your kind before. Besides that, Tony already has too much to do.
  42. The people who write me privately to agree with what I say will be disappointed; but, okay, sayonara. P.S. Perhaps the moderator was being fair-minded.
  43. >Randy Skopar , sep 14, 2004; 07:23 p.m.

    >Jeff and the others who call me racist: Is "Jamaican" now one of the races? Maybe so. Us
    Klansmen ain't educated.

    Hey look! It's James Kennedy in disguise... or should I say, not so in disguise?

    I thought all you guys were jailed after Nuremberg.
  44. Wow, did this thread ever get off on a strange tangent! Better that we stick to discussing cameras and photography rather than sociology, culture, race and ethnicity. The color of the eye squinting through the finder is of no more consequence than the color of the finger pressing the release button.

    As for that diatribe against medical professionals of other darker races, after having been married to doctor (white Protestant Anglo-Saxon, an ancestor came over on the second voyage of the Mayflower)I can let out a little secret. They all do an exam, perhaps run some tests, examine an X-ray or two, or a higher tech scan, then make an "educated guess". If the latest medication hyped by the last drug company rep who took him or her to lunch fails to do any good then it's "Jeepers, that usually works! Let's try this instead and see what happens. Call me in a week." That's why they say "practicing medicine". Maybe some day they'll get it right.
  45. Second thoughts. That "we've seen your kind before" stuff was too cowboy-movie for me. I think I'll stick around unless or until they ban me from the group. I agree with Al that the thread veered way out into space; but, admit it, political comments are as common as grass in this forum. Usually these are gratuitous shots at the President or the Republican Party. And, being leftist, they aren't challenged. You guys need me to keep you intellectually honest and to get you thinking through lines of argument instead of swapping formulas and striking PC poses.

    Oh, and to get back to the topic of the deleted thread. It was about Susan Sontag's article on Abu Ghraib. I read the article. Some good analysis, with political nonsense dragged in by the heels. She's no more subtle about it than you guys.

    I know what you mean, Al, but if I'm taken to the emergency room in dire straits, I want the doctor making decisions to be the product of a rigid admissions, testing, and licensing process. Most doctoring, as you point out, is cookbook medicine. But sometimes a doctor needs to be brilliant and very quick. I want the best medical care, not the most PC. As one wag put it, Would you fly on an airline that advertises "We put diversity first"?
  46. <<Besides that, Tony already has too much to do.>>

    Oh, please. Sucking up...
  47. This is complete speculation on my part, but I daresay the culture of individualism and the rise of the "me generation" mentality has something to do with it. People value their individual (visual) identity as being more precious, and in an increasingly anonymous and alienating street culture, are more protective of their privacy. I daresay the subconscious thought is "don't you dare take pictures of me, you pervert/wacko/loser, I'm too special..." Contrast this with the well known picture by Erich Salomon (see below), where various European worthies are roaring with laughter as they realize they are being photographed...Perhaps people were more jolly and relaxed in public spaces then, and more apt to genially connect with strangers around them, photographers included.
  48. I should have added, the Erich Salomon picture is from the 1920s in Europe. (c) Goethe Institut, Warszawa
  49. mike dixon

    mike dixon Moderator

    political comments are as common as grass in this forum. Usually these are gratuitous shots at the President or the Republican Party. And, being leftist, they aren't challenged. You guys need me to keep you intellectually honest and to get you thinking through lines of argument instead of swapping formulas and striking PC poses.
    Yeah, that pinko liberal Tony Rowlett who moderates the place is the worst leftist subversive around . . . ; )
    Dude, do you even read this forum?
  50. mike dixon

    mike dixon Moderator

    Regarding the original question, I don't know what the hell you're talking about. In my experience, most people don't mind having their photo taken, quite a few enjoy it, and only a very, very-small minority object to it. Maybe you're doing it wrong.
  51. The other thing I've learned, Randy, is that when you get rushed into the emergency room of a top rated teaching hospital, one that has some of the best physicians in their fields on staff, you're more than likely to be examined and treated by somebody doing their residency there, whether white, black or green. That guy or gal probably missed dinner, has been up for twenty hours straight, and hasn't had a full night's sleep in months. Ah, the joys of modern medicine!
  52. <<I daresay the culture of individualism and the rise of the "me generation" mentality has something to do with it.>>

    Also, I think people are afraid that the photographer may use their pictures to make money--and they, the subject, won't get a cut. I once photographed a dog, a darn ugly one, and the owner came over and demanded, "Is this for commercial purposes?"

    What would have been the perfect comeback to that?
  53. Al, a friend of mine went through one of those grueling residencies. One night, he gave a transfusion to a patient, then, not remembering, went back and did it again.
  54. Some of my best friends are Jamaicans.
  55. Randy, when I visited Jamaica last year I didn?t have a problem at all. I photographed on the streets, in schools (see picture) and was invited into a church where I took some people pictures. Photographing people on the street here in Germany is IMHO much harder than it is in Jamaica. Carsten
  56. Carsten I check out your website and it brought melancolyc memories of Mexico. you definitly have an eye for culture. I just wonder what you look like since yu seem to blend in so well.Peopple semmed not paying attention to you like if you were part of the enviroment.
  57. I've been reading this thread and the things that Randy and Al are saying remind of the time that I was a racist. I was tought that the white man invited pretty much every thing and we where Gods people. when my father past away I was no longer influced by him and I would read and listen to other culturs. and you know what I learned is the white man had been lying for centries. this is a way to hold onto power. I found out the white man stole idea from people and proclaimed them as thier own inventions.

    Randy and Al, I was feed that same crap about afermitvie action. and let me tell you from a real live FORMER racist who has seen plans to divide this nation and seen the tons of 223 ammo, AR-15s, grenade launchers and training camps, learn to read and listen to people outside of the racist community you associates yourselfs with. leave the church that teaches you these things and if you do this you will find a hole new world waiting to embrase you.

    and to the folks of this thread please forgive me for going of topic. this is a subject that is deaply close to my heart. because I have seen the damage that myself and my father had done to my fellow human beings. and affermivtive action is one of many ways to help repair that damage.
  58. in my last post insted of Al I meant to say Olivier Reichenbach

    I'm verry sorry Al for the typo.
  59. No problem, Stephen. Thanks.
  60. Dear Cebes,

    I have thought about this and I have found an answer unlisted here before:

    When a dog comes up to a person, the dog immediately feels what the person is thinking, feeling. When i come up to a person, camera in hand, I think the same kind of instinctive gut reaction occurs: if the person is upset, he/she wants to be left alone and would react negatively to having his/her pic taken. When the person is happy, relaxed, and i am too, then a picturee can most often be taken in cooperation, etc. With a few words exchanged, ... Pleasanteries, jokes,

    It is your attitude towards the person that allows/disallows the pic., stupid! As simple as "it's the economy, stupid!"

    And your diatribe runs heavy in attitude. You seem to demand everyone to share/bare their private life, face for your spit-ups. You come across as a mean spirited son of a ... that I would not want to be confronted with. An ass of sorts. Sorry. i am just relating to my dog experiences here. You, your mindset, rudeness, ... would give me hackles instantly! Good for mankind that this seems to be shared by many others. Sorry, to be the first to have to tell you, really sorry, Cebes.

    And I am glad people refuse to have their pics and private sides scrutinized by someone so unfeelingly, offensively thinking about them. No offence intended, please , but some things are so clear now ...

    Cannot sugarcoat what you are up against, sorry. And good luck thinking this over. Might be the best critique you will ever get, or so i hope.
  61. I truly appreciate all who have responded. There is a great deal of experience here and it was a very important question to me and perhaps one in general although I realize that like all things, with time brings wisdom and understanding to this phenomena that I do not yet possess.

    Comment: "Do people really feel they are so important that I truly care about them!"

    Replies: "A little bit of respect, compassion and genuine interest goes a long way towards breaking down the barriers between strangers" ..........and other replies to this affect.

    Oh I understand this. Please excuse my poor wording as I was writing in frustration.

    I am not obvious, sneeky, unkind, or rude. Not in the least. If someone "catches" me shooting them, I smile afterwards, or wave a thank you. The moments, which are more common, where people cover, block themselves, or say something I usually walked away shaking my head at them until recently trying to better understand and LEARN this phenomena and what exactly people are thinking to help me learn.

    case in point:

    Olivier et al. are not far off. I was in the park the other day merely sitting and practicing using the rangefinder. I must be faster! and truly want to master zone focusing. Anyway, This woman in the distance continued to say "no foto" constantly. Then her children began to mimic her. I was focusing in that direction apparently and didnt realize.

    She was becoming more and more aggravated it seemed. Some lonely gossipy housewife type with her other lonely housewife friends (sorry inner anger again).

    I said in her language, dont worry I dont want your is a free country...anger beginning to surface...

    Then I moved away inwardly thinking what the hell?!

    So when I decided to leave I chose to walk over to them. Again I am not a confrontational type so it was a stretch for me this new tactic. LOL

    I said (killing any anger with kindness), "excuse me I am studying photography, and I am merely practicing focusing, I didnt take your picture, however, I am curious as I am a painter and dont understand why people hate having their photo taken. Should I set up my easel beside you, you would have no provlem at all my painting you, your children, etc. Yet when taking a photograph people are so offended. Why?"

    She said, because of child pornography and posting images on the internet (I thought how silly, dont they have to be naked and in sex acts?!) How ridiculous. What ignorance. simple minded people who act without thinking.

    It is not too far away from what most of you have stated perhaps(MANY THANKS!) Eric, Olivier, Nathan, Liam, Gerald, Frank ET AL. I cannot remember everyone's name...sorry.

    It seems to be a combination of ignorance and fear/privacy issues related specifically to our current world. Particularly bad photographers and media (paparrazi types) who have caused a problem for the entire medium perhaps.

    Of course if I were interested in a portrait or something to this effect I certainly would perhaps make the effort in "winning them over" to some extent if the situation seemed to call for it.

    The photography I am referring to of course is street photography, and about a MOMENT where of course this does not apply.

    It seems to be an automatic reaction for people ...Why are they so afraid?!

    Ill tell you something.....

    I was in Romania for a time, and people LOVED having their photo taken. They went inside and got dressed up in their traditional clothes and came out just for a photograph.

    A genuine gypsy called his ENTIRE family over only for a photo. etc. etc...Same applied in Poland and Slovakia Rep.

    Any more technologically advanced societies, Czech Rep, Italy, USA seem to have problems...cultures such as French, England do not seem to have as much a problem in my experience due to their history and breeding ground of great photogs perhaps...I dont know...the Spanish are always cool anyway!

    Those who do cause a problem now, I confront them not meeting their anger, but politely asking them in my best Socratic philosophical question/answer manner having them prove themselves silly for stopping me.

    What I initially said "I do not care about you....." refers to why these people would become so offended as if I was intruding on their personal lives. it is only a photo?! PEople seem tho feel I am so interested in THEM as if I KNOW them..I am interested in whatever they make me feel at the time...or perhaps only their lifeless mass for compositional purposes only where the face is not even visible.

    It is so ridiculous.

    Perhaps I am the one who is naive, but I havent a problem in the world with someone taking my photo...why should I?! Does everyone have something to hide?

    Is everyone so vain?! Everyone IS so vain! (it seems)

    What has truly concerned me and has been wearing on me/demotivating me as much as I truly love the entire Leica experience I have had and studies into optics, light, color, history, etc..just brilliant.

    It drains me sometimes.

    A better question would be, totally outside the bounds of some forum AS MY FINGERS ARE TIRED NOW,,,,,,,,

    ...........what do YOU DO? Technique or manner.

    Must I become a thief to capture a moment all the time?! This is not me. I mean, I am not that kind of person. To hunt is one thing, to feel as if i must steal, is another.

    I would find this immensely helpful as well...

    thanks again. Although most of what has been suggested I already knew more or less, BUT it DOES emphasize many things and made me reflect from a third persons perspective on my technique/style. Anyway, will carry all of these opinions and suggestions with this (serious) budding amateur photog. in the future.


  62. man I just to think I was complicated. I think that you are worse than I am.hehe(feels good)
  63. Cebes, don't take the criticism seriously. It's just your turn in the barrel.
  64. Cebes - I think you will feel more motivated and less like a thief if you have a purpose to your photography. If you have an ongoing project that gives a meaning to individual pictures as you are taking them and also enables you explain what you are doing to people who question you about it. This need not be documentary, it can be purely aesthetic or formal, but in my opinion, this is what distinguishes the best photography from the rest: the fact that the photographer has a well-defined set of interests he/she is pursuing. At that point he is no longer a thief or hunter, but merely someone pursuing an aim.

    Good luck.
  65. If I got to Ferrari meetings, I usually pay the owner a compliment with a smile.....or stick up my thumb when he's too far away.

    If you shoot someone in a store, pay a compliment about the store ("wow what a beautiful store !" or "your store is so unique, I just had to take a picture").

    You know what ? Most people are incredibly vain about themselves and the stuff they own, so they are INCREDIBLY sensitive to compliments.
    Even when they look very grumpy at first, they usually aren't when you say something to them.

    A few weeks ago I did some charity work for some national kidney foundation thing, and we came at the door during dinner. I noticed that 99% of the people open the door with a grumpy face, say something short or say nothing at all, but 99% does give money and most people are incredibly kind and friendly when you just keep smiling. :)
    Perhaps it's just a natural first reaction, cause most people arent people's people's more like they're scared, being a bit surprised about the unexpected thing of being shot.

    And just by talking to people, those people often come up with new ideas like "have you ever been to...." or "would you like to see my car from the inside.....".

    You'll be amazed!

    PS I once heard two people talk about street photography and one guy said "It's so weird, when I try to shoot people they are never friendly"....and I noticed a few people near them look kind of bewildered :)
  66. Cebes, to go back to the original question -- why do (some) people (sometimes) hate to have their photo taken -- I'd like to suggest a reason:

    Photography makes a transient moment permanent. It's only natural for a person to want to be in control of the selection of moments from his own life that are to be memorialized, as opposed to those that should be allowed simply to pass by. Remember the old actress in the movie Sunset Boulevard who said, "I'm ready for my close-up, Mr. de Mille."? I think there's a bit of her in all of us.

    What might seem like an innocent couple enjoying their lunch hour in the park might be a lovers' tryst. The man lost in thought on the park bench might, at that moment, be thinking thoughts that he'd prefer never cross his mind again. These people don't want you or anyone else freezing the moment.

    Of course, if they are in public, you have that right to shoot them. That's not in dispute. But what you asked about is why they might object.

    Apply this test to yourself: Would you mind being photographed while celebrating your birthday? How about while mourning a dead relative? Might you want to be the one to decide when you are "ready for your close-up"?

    To paraphrase that most photogenic of presidents: "You can photograph some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can't photograph all of the people all of the time -- and expect them to like it."

Share This Page