filmist and digitalist brazenness

By | photography

Looking at random street photography sites on the internet, it suddenly struck me that there is something of a tiny subcategory of pictures in which passers-by look very disturbed at the camera, and therefore at you, the onlooker. All of them seem irritated, or at least worried “what the hell is this for?” I don’t understand, are these uneasy pictures supposed to convey a deeper meaning (“look how worried people go through life”) or is the photographer merely showing us his “courage” (and in fact possible lack of respect and consideration for the other)? Personally I usually avoid these kind of looks, because I see no use for such images in the context of what I make, and I prefer not to upset people. Empathy and being able to read body language are essential. Shooting people no matter what I’m sure wasn’t what Garry Winogrand was thinking of when he said he “photographed things [read: people] to see what they would look like when photographed”. It’s proof of an unsettling egocentricity when the thing that interests you is to read the reaction on some stranger’s face to your brazenness. Apart from that, any filmist can take a whole film (for the digitalist: that’s 36 takes) in some 30 minutes in an average town center, if he dares photograph people at extremely short range in passing. But street photography is not for testing or proving courage, I hope.