This is a picture of two men sitting on church steps. It’s not a spectacular photo. I like it; I think it’s a good picture. What I like most about it is that the two subjects are looking at something out of the frame which adds a little mystery – something I picked up from Gary Winogrand pictures.
But what is more important about this picture is not the picture itself but what happened when I made it. The guy on the left got upset with me, because he saw me take the picture – or at least that’s what he thought. In his defense, I was trying to be sneaky but he caught me. So he yelled at me from across the street, “Don’t take my M****f***g picture!” Too late…
I wasn’t in Baltimore to shoot the two men on the church steps. Instead, I shot the Eastside Baptist Church for a real estate listing for Realtor, Darrin Jones. We had wrapped up shooting inside the church , and we were getting in the truck to leave. Before getting in the truck, I noticed that the light had changed outside since we went inside. So I figured I’d take a couple shots outside of the church before we left.
Don’t Trust Cameras
As I pointed my camera toward the church, these two men walked into my camera frame. This was okay, because I’m always looking for other interesting things to shoot. And, when the men stopped to sit on the church steps – I found it interesting. So in addition to shooting the church exterior, I took a couple shots of the two men – much to the displeasure of at least one of them. The point I’m trying to raise here is that people are leery and untrusting of cameras but not about cell phones.
Take A Selfie
In that same situation, if I had raised up my cell phone and pretended to take a selfie – while I took a picture of them sitting on the church steps he probably wouldn’t have noticed me. But, the camera bothered him. Everybody is now walking around with a video and still camera. But, they are ignored because cell phones are so common. People are used to seeing people pointing phones at everything. And, taking selfies is a popular practice.
But for whatever reason cameras raise suspicion of violating people or doing something sneaky. I was once questioned by Australian police officers that wondered why I was photographing the subway station escalator. I had a tripod, and a full sized camera. So, I obviously wasn’t trying to be sneaky. It was also at night, which increases the suspicious level.The bottom line is people, like the man on the church steps, don’t trust cameras.
In conclusion, a person with a cell phone is far more suspicious than a person with a camera. It is far easier to sneakily photograph or shoot video of a person with a phone. But, like the men on the church steps, people get upset if you even point a camera in their direction – whether actually you’re shooting them or not.
I yelled back across the street to the church steps, “I wasn’t taking your picture, I was shooting the church”. That wasn’t entirely the truth, but it ended there.