When I was growing up, if there was a camera nearby, my mother would often say, “don’t take my picture.” I’m not sure why, but she claimed that she didn’t like to have her picture taken.
I’ve heard that refrain from others too, but I don’t always buy it. I think most people like to have their picture taken, even if that emotion is kept secretly.
After spending a full day at Canalside on Saturday, I returned there with my wife last night to try to capture a specific image. I grabbed my camera, but left my bag in the car. After taking a few shots, I decided to go back to my car to grab a different lens. While on that mission, I passed a couple seated in a couple Adirondack chairs. The gentleman smiled at me with a big grin. I must have had a puzzled look on my face, and he said he was smiling for the camera. I laughed, and then stopped and snapped a quick picture of him.
When I got to the car I changed lenses and returned to my original task.
I was just about done, when the gentleman I encountered earlier was walking by. He asked about the picture, and then said “she was very disappointed that she missed it,” referring to the lady he was with.
So I said alright, let me get another one. They posed quickly and I snapped two pictures. I gave them one of my cards and said if they’d like they could send me their email address and I would be happy to send them the picture.
Now, I like taking pictures, and I was glad the guy stopped me. And I was even pleased when he said his friend was disappointed that she missed the original opportunity; that in some way it was special for her to have a photo taken.
I’m not sure my mother would have had the same reaction.
Coincidentally, while my wife and I were driving down to Canalside, we discussed Brandon Stanton’s “Humans of New York” (HONY) photo project. If you’re not familiar, he has embarked on a project to “create an exhaustive catalogue of New York City’s inhabitants.” His initial goal was to photograph 10,000 New Yorkers, and the project, and related web presence, has become quite the internet phenomenon with huge followings on social media.
My wife said she loved HONY. I said it was interesting, but thought that it could be somewhat awkward to continuously encounter strangers and make photos of them. I do enjoy photographing people. There is energy to it, and every individual we encounter has a story to tell. That is one of the reasons I enjoy being a finish line photographer for Eclipse Multi-Sport. I have also thought of variations of Stanton’s HONY, but I don’t know that I could personally build a project based on photographing strangers.
And yet, there I was Sunday night, meeting briefly with a couple on the waterfront, and making a photo of them. I haven’t heard from them yet, and don’t know anything about them. It was a chance encounter, but as a photography enthusiast, I was energized by the encounter.
So, if you see me, and I have my camera with me, go ahead and ask; I’d be happy to take your picture.