Bystander

I've always liked observing people and wondering about their lives and their motivations.  It's one of those semi mundane things that can be transcendent, especially when you imagine what your life might be if you were not just someone else, but THAT someone else.

Today I was browsing through the Shutter Sisters website– a site that I'm happy I found through the lovely blogs of Jeanine and Steph (aka Lawyer Mama).  The theme for this Monday was about just that: taking clandestine pictures of others while they are busy leading their lives.

Sometimes I wonder if people like having their picture taken by a stranger or if it offends or irritates them, because I am sometimes overfond of pointing my camera where it doesn't belong and so I ask myself this question more often than not. 

But sometimes I wonder, too, if there is a secret thrill involved in an impromptu photo shoot– if there is some sort of small feeling of voyeuristic joy involved in knowing that you're interesting enough to someone's lens.

Consider this a Valentine, then, dear random people I've photographed.

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Protester near downtown Annapolis, August 2008

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He didn't think I'd take the picture– a game of photographic "Chicken".  June 2008

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Waiting outside the school.  September, 2008.

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Phone call, southwestern corner of Ocean and Dolores, Carmel-by-the-Sea, September 2008.


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Checking out the menu at Ben's Chili Bowl, October 2008.


I wonder if any of these people will ever get to stop by here, see themselves, and wonder who the person was behind the lens.

On a related note, and if you're a photography fan, you need to see Vanity Fair's 25 Best News Photographs.  I don't think there is a single one that won't move you or stir something within you in some deep, primal way.

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This entry was published on October 20, 2008 at 8:22 pm and is filed under Photoblogging. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

5 thoughts on “Bystander

  1. Interesting post. Love the photos, especially “waiting outside the school” and the one at Ben’s Chili Bowl.
    The discussion we had on this in my photography class was very interesting as to when subjects had a reasonable right to expect privacy (i.e. don’t take my photo!) and as to some cultures where it’s actually illegal. Maybe that’s why I like people to be only a minor element in my photos haha.

  2. My personal preference is that I not be included in a shot unless there’s a reason that I’m unable to move away from it (i.e. large crowds). I don’t like having my picture taken..never have.
    On another note, I tend to like pictures without people in them unless they are portraits. So that probably has an effect on my not liking to have my picture taken.
    Some people though are just asking for their pictures to be taken, like your protestor. Speaking of whom, what exactly does his sign say?

  3. LJ– Your subjects are usually far more tempting anyway ;o)
    Vix– The protester was a girl, actually, and she was protesting troops in Iraq, but also Venezuela and other places. I think the bottom of her sandwich board had a blog address. I’ll try to see if I can see it a little clearer in the original.

  4. Ah! See, that’s how observant I am when I’m tired 😛
    I forgot to mention what nice, sharp pictures you take. Mine seem to turn out fuzzy for some reason.

  5. I HATE getting my picture taken – it’s sort of an obsession of mine… we had no photos of me with the kids at all (of course we ahve no photos of the kids now, either, because the tornado destroyed all our photos).
    I never feel comfortable taking pictures of strangers because I’m afraid they’ll get mad at me and throw a fit..lol

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