That, is the question. Whether it is nobler to suffer the slings and arrows of irritated looks, or by lowering the camera, end them.
In case it isn’t clear, the woman above isn’t being comical. She’s growling and grimacing in order to prevent my having a good shot of her. Thing of it is, I had zero intention of taking her picture. Instead, I was working on the exposure with a fully open lens I rarely use. She approached me, entered my shot without a word (like “Excuse me”) and proceeded to make the odd face above.
Now don’t get me wrong, she’s a pretty girl, and many men probably would love her photo. I’m not one of them. I was trying to see if I could get another interesting shot of the ugly National Christmas tree like the one below, taken in 2010. I did not.
What I did get was food for thought — a brief interlude in which I once again wondered if I should exclude people from my photos. It’s not really due to an imagined intrusion on people’s privacy. The truth is most people don’t care, and I usually don’t notice them either, except to the extent they add compositional elements or scale.
I try to keep people relatively anonymous. After all, they are markers and archetypes, not subjects. But that doesn’t always work. Their “personness” intrudes into the shots and they become the focus of my photography.
The old man wanders the World War II memorial and I briefly wonder how he remembers the war. Surely he’s not old enough to have served. But I shake off the thoughts, as they intrude on the work. The people are shadows, wisps, ghosts.
I wasn’t rattled by the frowning bicyclist, to be honest. As I said, I’m not looking at the people when I shoot. I’m looking at the focal point, or the contrast, or the technical settings of the camera. But later, when I do see the people, just sometimes, I want to retreat back to the days when I pretended they don’t exist.
Ah, for the serenity of an empty bench.