958 | On the train past Loughborough Junction, London As is often the case on this blog, the following bears little or no relation to the photograph above. Bear with me.
The thrill of practicing street photography really does continue to amaze me after several years, and I wonder if I will still feel the same years down the line. I certainly hope so. I came back from my lunch hour today on a high simply from walking around in the sunshine taking candid pictures of people. Such a simple thing.
I agree when people point out that on a basic level there is absolutely nothing wrong with taking someone’s picture (certainly in most places, anyway, and leaving aside the more complex ethical ‘yeah but…’ issues that may arise in certain circumstances). It’s a picture, that’s all. No harm comes of it. Yet however much I tell myself that this is the case, I still get a certain lingering feeling afterwards, as though I have gotten away with something illicit. At times, if I’m being honest, it does feel like a game, and I feel like I’ve ‘succeeded’ if I have not been noticed. I suspect a lot of other photographers working in public feel the same, but not all.
There are few hobbies I can think of where you can pass through a crowd of people doing something, and not one person actually realises at the time that you are doing it. At its best these feelings can make you feel as though you are invisible; no-one in the vicinity is looking for the same things you are looking for. No-one is engaging with their immediate surroundings quite on the same level. It’s likely nobody nearby is observing the world with as much concentration as you are, from the comings and goings of masses of people to the smallest speck on a pavement or shadow, even if you aren’t outwardly showing it.
Street photography makes me feel completely alive. It occasionally gets my adrenaline flowing in the same way as, I imagine, those that practice extreme sports or the like. I’m not saying one is better than the other - but this is my equivalent of jumping out of a plane. Today was one of those days.
I got back to my desk and zoned out, dulled by the background noise of phones, co-workers, printers and distant traffic. I’ve been staring at my monitor ever since.