Monday, November 12, 2007

No kidding

Let me start this post with a disclaimer: I respect other photographers' opinion on street photography. But I might as well come clean:I  have an aversion for taking pictures especially of kids in orphanages or out in the street for posting in some forum, inviting the viewer to heap praises on the captures instead of evoking sympathy and inviting assistance. Many times, I turn away when I keep seeing these images in the internet.

One of my favorite charities is the Sisters of Mother Teresa. One time, I ventured there armed with a DSLR. But the sisters explicity yet nicely told me not to take pictures. At first, I wondered why not? But one of them told me that more than the pictures, what the kids need is my time, my caring. That was a sobering explanation. Which is why now I think there's a never-ending flow of images of the needy everywhere but not enough people who would want to take their hands off the camera, get their hands dirty, and personally give their time and undivided attention to these kids.

Anyway, the child in the picture was hankering Ironwulf and me for a shot so we felt compelled to take it. But I really feel guilty not even asking the child's name. I intend to make amends.


Sidney said...

I TOTALLY disagree with you on this topic.
I hear this argument over and over. This is not an exploitation of poor people. I take pictures of everybody I see. So why should I make an exception for street kids and beggars?

I don't think you can become famous by taking pictures of street kids.
Most people don't like to look at those pictures anyway because it makes them uneasy. If you want to be famous you need to go into fashion photography.

I believe everybody and everything is worth a picture. Be it the President of the Republic or the local beggar in your street.
It is all about the way you take your pictures... do you respect your subjects? If yes, I don't see the problem.

What are photographers doing? They record the world around them... with their own vision and sensibilities.

I love pictures where the photographer succeeds in catching the "soul" of an individual. It doesn't matter if it is the picture of a King or a taxi driver.

My next series is about a home of the aged. The old ladies living in that home were delighted with the attention. For one moment they were movies stars. They enjoyed the photo shoot.
Honestly, I would have done and worked the same way in a school of teenage girls.
What is the difference? Those old ladies are wrinkled but in their own way they are still beautiful.

Guess what... no beggar, no street kid ever told me to NOT take their pictures.
If someone tells me that they don't want to be photographed I will not do it.
I am sure that little kid enjoyed the attention.

Sometimes... someone... somewhere... ask if he/she can take a picture of me alone of with them. I guess for some people I am exotic and a curiosity...
I am not offended... it always ends in laughter.

I consider photography a tool to meet different people... a bridge between people... and it is foolish to restrict yourself to some categories of people.
Go out and take the pictures of those mayors, hookers, beggars, taxi drivers, street kids, squatters, office workers, students, artists, baklas, etc.
In the end we are all the same human beings.

Well, of course, that is my opinion... ;-)and believe me I have fun and my subjects too.

lagal[og] said...

wow, sidney, that was one lengthy note. hmmm, i don't think i was referring to your site when i wrote this post. i meant posting "pretty" pictures of needy kids in internet forum meant to evoke praises instead of telling the stories as they are.

i agree with you on most of the points you've wrote -- that the elderly can be beautiful. that a lot of people begs to be photographed. like you, i won't take a picture if the subject wouldn't want his/her picture taken. i also believe in recording the current human condition, whether they be happy, sad, despondent or joyous, for posterity.

i hope that clears the air somewhat.


Sidney said...

I am sure you weren't referring to my pictures. Nothing personal.

I just don't agree with you on the topic. I am sensitive about this issue since other people often accuse me of taking pictures for my own fame.

I am a bit excited today...I drank too much coffee! ;-)

lagal[og] said...

hi sidney,

just when i thought nobody really reads my posts and just take a cursory look at my pictures, there you are. you really take time to read pala. i really appreciate your comments and take them to heart. we may agree and disagree on things but in the end, we are very much alike than disparate. about the coffee, i myself drink too much :-) peace!

Anino said...

Iyan ang problema ko.Ang dami kong gustong piktyuran na mga tao.Nahihiya lang talaga ako.Napokus tuloy ako sa kapaligiran. One time nga, may nakita akong batang pulubi na nanlilimos sa Cambodia/Thailand border. Nasa kabilang bakod siya ng barb wire. Then one day, nakita ko na lng yung picture na yun sa internet.


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