Confrontations

So, an odd thing happened yesterday as I was out shooting. And this hasn't happened to me before, although I have heard about others experiencing it.

For the first time, someone I took a photo of was confrontational towards me.

Now, I know that not everyone wants their photo taken when they're out and about.  I've never had anyone say that they'd rather I didn't take their photo; and to be honest, if someone did have a major issue then I'd happily delete it. (Well, I say 'happily' - if it was the shot of the year then I'd be reluctant!)

The guy yelled at me in no uncertain terms that he wasn't happy, and demanded to know why I took his photo. And even warned that "I know your face", although I'd hazard a guess that he probably wouldn't notice me next time I pass him.

I didn't interact and just kept walking. Safe in the knowledge that I was quite a way up some steps for him to catch me up.

However, one thing did occur to me afterwards. And that is one of how I choose my ethics.

I have seen this guy around before and he's usually murmuring to himself in a slightly drunken way. Now, I personally draw a line at taking photos of certain things: homeless people sleeping rough in doorways is one. It's a cheap shot, it's not making any statement, and I think it's actually quite offensive for me to be shoving a camera that costs several hundred quid into a starving person's face without their say so. I'm also not comfortable with taking shots of someone who is noticeably mentally ill - once again, it's not big or clever.

But what of this guy? Is he just a bit of a slurry drunk? Or maybe he has a mental illness that I don't know about? And further to that, what of any other quirky, eccentric characters I might take a photo of on the streets? I don't personally know these people, so how do I know?

I think my approach needs to be the same as it has always been. To take the shot and then worry about it later. If I'm looking at it after the moment has taken place and I decide that actually, maybe the shot is a bit patronising to someone... then I need to let it go. There is a slight humour in much of my photography, but there should be a line drawn at poking fun.