Capture the rapture

My recent trip to central London prompted some thoughts about the nature of street photography. It is by itself an almost shameful pursuit, because you never ask your subject permission to take their picture (in law you don’t have to, as long as they are in a public place). While taking a photograph does not by itself reveal anything a passer-by would not see, the absence of consent always comes with a host of moral pitfalls. Indeed, there is a difference between an inherently transient observation (veni, vidi, oblitus — to paraphrase Caesar) and the permanence of a published photograph.

Different photographers regard them differently. Sean Tucker, for instance, is an advocate of self-censorship (“I don’t denigrate people, I celebrate people”), while more self-proud ones, especially painters, especially Francisco Goya, say “If I painted her this way, she is that” — a diametrically opposite attitude. It would be fair to say that the moral issue is still open and that each photographer finds their own middle ground.

This photographer is happy to get away with anything at all. If they display it in public, I have the right to immortalise the moment any which way I like, provided that it makes sense, tells a story and has some kind of aesthetics to it. Sorry, guys and girls, you placed yourselves in my viewfinder when I pressed that trigger …

A long prelude to what I actually had to say. Street photography is about capturing. We capture just too things: emotions and situations. I put them in this order because emotions are the main thing that we are interested in, both photographers and viewers, and the situations in which they are displayed act as a prop: poignant, funny, crazy, surprising, incongruous — all sorts. Both positive and negative, with and without social context, agenda or purpose, anything that feeds our insatiable visual appetite.

This photograph captures the bliss of a young girl with two large shopping bags, thinking that she may buy some more.

Merry Xmas.

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