Survival Tip – Be Courageous. Not a Jackass

Viola! The first write up in my newly introduced, Urban Life [or street] Photography Tips Section, satisfyingly named… dum-da-da-dum….  “Surviving the Concrete Zoo“.

Yay!…. silly string, applause, strobe lights… doves… clowns … ummm. No wait, too much? Yeah, celebration over, anyway…


Be Courageous

The key to urban life photography, is courage in the field. If you do not possess the internal fortitude to get out there and point a camera at a stranger, then, well… try harder. It will come. This kind of thing takes practice.

Above all, I willfully admit, after years of walking the streets, I still get nervous. I still get that voice in the back of my head, screaming at me, urging me to back down. This fear will likely never, nor should it ever go away. There is a net benefit here where that “[F]alse [E]vidence [A]ppearing [R]eal” … it lights the fire of exhilaration, heightens the thrill and should help calibrate your interpretation of space. There is so much energy to be found in simply pushing your limits.

But there is a point of importance, where Stan Lee speaks best…

With great power there must also comegreat responsibility!”

Don’t be a Jackass

By way of our great constitution, we have the right [speaking for the US] to photograph just about anything and anyone we wish, in a public space. The erosion of these freedoms not withstanding, this right gives great power to a street photographer. A power that we can easily take advantage of.

Personally, I am a “give me space” kind of guy. I don’t like things in my face and fingers may not be returned if my face is touched. It’s simply a tick I have. So I can relate to the invasion of privacy felt by another getting in too close.

I want to note, here and now, that the legends of this style, the “never close enough” crew, create magnificent work with their balls of steel… and “close” does not define the “jackassness” of one’s actions. I can put this this way… Not all who get too close are jackasses, but all jackasses get too close. There is a sort of, manner, about it.

This is an example of a super close shot. I saw her coming, so I lifted my camera and aligned myself with the path I knew she would take. It just so happens, she was turning to look my way and I snapped it as she passed. No bothering, no startling, just grabbing a fun shot without affecting the scene.

There is a threshold where a photographer can exploit these previously noted rights. At this cross-over, (s)he now run the risk of taking it too far… and being a jackass. Not to mention, creating an unnecessarily escalated opportunity for physical danger.

Mind you, there are many actions deemed “” and your probably asking yourself right now… Who’s this judge of this. Well, I will tell you who. For me… it’s me. I am my own barometer of jackassdom… For you, it may be.. yeah, you.

Be your own conscience in the field. Most of us well never set out tomorrow, intent on ruining another’s afternoon. We’re artists, not ghouls, at least most of us. The point is, its not too much to ask for us all, to simply be aware of ourselves, our surroundings and our actions and apply a worthy measure of respect on our subjects.

That said, this is not to say, be weary of getting in close. NO! Get the hell in there. Being close hasn’t passed the line in my threshold. Leaping out from behind a corner, only to startle… Yep, that there is a grade-A, “Jackass with a camera”.

These are however, the mere ramblings and opinion of an increasingly crotchety, secretly terrified, shutter-clicker.

Cheers for tonight, fellow members of exhibit 4A, the human race.