Change of direction?

Today I am reduced to posting the kind of image that inspires within me self loathing; a hipsteresque image of coffee and my camera (the only thing I despise more is the horrible ice cream glass some chains insist on for lattes).

I lost my bottle. I tried to take an image of a guy on a BMX, lost confidence so asked, and was told to beat it (in more colourful language).

I should have carried on shooting elsewhere, but instead gave up for a while. The reality is there is very little conflict in street photography. Yet, when it happens, it makes me want to give up. I listen to John Free tell me that street photography is a noble endeavour. But sometimes it seems to be perceived as less than honourable.

It is a fairly mainstream activity. Today I listened to part of the fascinating story of Vanley Burke documenting the experience of the African-Caribbean community in England. This was a Radio 4 programme. Hardly an underground or especially edgy source. The story told the response of some of his subjects discovering his candid shots. In the main they sounded ok with it and some sounded pleased.

However, with some of the present anxiety over GDPR (which will hopefully turn out to be unwarranted) and the potential for conflict, I wonder if it’s time for a change of direction. ¬†Or at least until I get my bottle back.

In these circumstances I enjoy doing something different. For example, occassionally I get the opportunity to photograph events. It gives me the chance to plug in the flash and take some non-candid shots and portraits. I find that mft cameras can generally deal well enough with the light conditions and my little Nissin i40 flash does a brilliant job with the problem situations.


I was walking with my camera in my hand, at my side. A guy came round the corner in front of me. He made a strange shout and then appeared to pose for me.  This was not the first time someone had acted like this, so I assumed he wanted me to take a picture.

So, I raised my camera and took a few shots. I was using an old Panasonic G3 and had been using the screen. When I raised the camera the viewfinder, therefore, did not switch on (I believe the automatic switch came with the G5). I couldn’t see him but I took a shot anyway.

When I lowered the camera I was surprised to see he was directly in front of me and not looking too happy. I turns out I had misunderstood his behaviour and he did not like it. He made that clear and exclaimed, ‘you should ask first!’ He then went on his way and I didn’t get a chance to explain my misunderstanding.

Many people don’t seem to mind too much if you take their photo, even without asking. On this occasion I thought I had been given permission, without asking. But it just goes to show there can be a confrontational side to street photography.