the Proto Photographer

Amateur photography and the risk of being found out

Amateur Photography

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[photo credit:Aaron Kaffen @]

Taking photographs in public, especially photographs of people, and even more-so as an amateur, lends itself to a certain amount of doubt and introspection. 

First, you find yourself asking, “What if they see me?”   This question is especially worrisome as someone without any claim to the title of Professional Photographer, as, then, you’d at least have a reasonable answer.  Who would question your intent if you said, “I’m working on a piece for the Times” or “Part of my dissertation is to capture moments of true humanity”? 

Short of that, you’re just a creepy person with a camera who, by their estimation, has no right on earth to invade their privacy in this manner. 

Second, you start questioning what you’re doing there in the first place.  You didn’t set out that day to capture these people.  You don’t get paid for it.  Your human subjects simply boil down to an exercise in framing or composition or stealthiness. 

Before you know it, you’ve simultaneously experienced buyer’s remorse for every piece of probably-more-than-you-need camera equipment you’ve ever bought and start wondering if everyone around you knows that you’re a fraud who tries to make up for woefully lacking artistic integrity with an encyclopedic knowledge of Nikon camera bodies dating back to the early 60’s.  Of course they do.

Finally, you wonder if you ought to take another shot, and that’s when you see, in the periphery, a couple holding each other.  Like a Schrödinger experiment, the embrace is simultaneously and indiscernibly passionate and benign, happy and sad. 

The framing lines in your viewfinder become crosshairs.  The enraged crowd in the distance sounds like a perfect counterpoint.  So they’re worked into frame. The brick flooring beneath the couple dissolves into a negative space filled contrast and providence. 

Nobody notices the shutter.