We all love a great photograph. They move, they make us smile, they capture a memory, a moment in time. They let us see the photographers version of the truth is remarkable and often dangerous places. The loving of a great photograph, be it abstract or of our friends and the people we love, is universal. So why do so many people dislike others taking them?
I recently started a photography course after buying my first “real” camera at Christmas. As part of this course I have to take photos. Many of these photos have proved to be fairly random; lying in the middle of the road to take a shot of the road markings, kneeling down to take a photo of a post-box. Seemingly unusual behaviour, however all in the name of a good photo. And everyone loves a good photo – right?
What is strange is how disapproving people are when you try taking pictures. The law in the UK states you have the right to take photographs when standing on public property. However, security guards and members of the public alike are often swift to challenge and deny this right, sometimes even verbally abuse you for trying to take a photo. There seems to be an instant suspicion that someone taking a picture is up to no good, yet everyone loves a good photograph – right?
I am fast learning is that a good photograph takes time, effort, dedication, many frames/shots and a whole lot of looking “uncool”. Those photos we love were not taken by accident. And in order to get photos we love, we need to let photographers take pictures. Yes, one in every 1,000 photographers may be up to no good, however that should not be used as an excuse to punish the other 999!
The problem for new photographers especially is such negativity greatly demoralises you. I have often had to give up on what I think could be a good shot because of strange looks, and semi-aggressive behaviour just because I have my camera out taking a photo of a building! One thing I hear again and again from classmates is how they had a great idea yet were prevented from executing it for fear of a reprisal from members of the public, the police or security guards.
Some are fearless, yet the vast majority are not, it’s just a hobby we enjoy doing. While we may all be beginners I share my class with some super-talented people and it’d be shame to miss out on the wonderful photos they could produce in the future because people want to shun those who try to take a picture.
The bigger the camera and lens the more leeway you get from people. However, those guys are generally the pros; they are fearless because they are paid to be fearless. It is the beginners like me for who the negative public opinion really has a grave impact.
Everyone does love a good photo. So please, the next time you see someone with a camera out trying to take picture, just leave them be and carry-on about your business. It’s not strange or suspicious behaviour, it is probably just someone enjoying their hobby. For all you know in 10 years time that could be the next Martin Par or Rankin, and we definitely wouldn’t want to miss out on that.