I’ve been told I’m a good, some say great, photographer. I’ll agree with the “good”, but not the “great”. No, this isn’t false modesty on my part. Let me explain by telling of something that happened this past Saturday.
I was in the lobby of my building, waiting for a taxi, when one of my neighbours, a friend, came from the other building to go to her car. This young lady is beautiful by any definition of the word and I have wanted to take her picture for years. She doesn’t like having her photo taken, so I’ve not pursued the matter. I don’t know where she was going Saturday, but she was absolutely stunning, so much so that I was tempted to take her photo despite knowing her feelings.
I didn’t, but the reason wasn’t just to accede to her wishes, but because I don’t like candid photos. I don’t like taking them and I definitely do not like having them taken of me. It has been my experience that candid photos are rarely flattering. I don’t care if you look like Angelina Jolie, chances are a candid photograph is not going to flatter you. Think about it. When was the last time someone took a candid shot of you that you actually liked? Honestly? It was that long ago?
I’ll do portrait photography. I’ll do nature photography, in fact I’ll admit a weakness for extreme closeups of flowers. I’ve done boudoir photography – from both sides of the camera – and no, you can’t see them; in fact a friend and I have set up a company, C and C Exotic Photography for the boudoir photos (website coming soon).
But candid shots, or the kind of photos seen in newspapers, are just not the kind of work I’m willing to do. As I wrote above, candids are rarely flattering, so why bother. The subject probably won’t like it anyway. As for news photos, well, those are usually scenes of someone suffering some disaster or loss and I just can’t see myself intruding into their problems by sticking a camera in their faces. I don’t even like people in my scenic shots unless they are necessary for scale.
Maybe it’s the way I was raised. I was born before the half-way point of the last century, at a time when people respected the privacy and personal space of others more than they seem to today. I was taught to stay out of other people’s affairs and I consider both candid photos and news photos to be examples of meddling. Perhaps only subtly and momentarily, but still I consider it meddling.
So, unless and until I can overcome this aversion to taking candid photos, I don’t think I can honestly consider myself a “great” photographer. And since that willingness to intrude into others’ lives just isn’t in me, I’ll have to settle for “good”, which is fine by me. So if you see me near you with a camera, don’t worry, I won’t take your photo without permission.
Enjoy your week and remember to hug an artist – we need love too.