character study? or intrusive and disrespectful.
Another “catch” from the vaults - and in fact another that I’d never looked at other than on the proof sheet since I took it.
Why now? I guess once I noticed it (I was looking through my old negs for another picture) I was interested to see how I’d feel about it once I scanned it and worked it into a reasonable picture. I’d always tended to overlook it as just another casual environmental portrait.
These were of course happy sunny days where one could frolic (yes, frolic) around with a camera in hand snapping whatever took your fancy. Back in those halcyon days Portugal happened to be bursting at the seams with fair folk such as this gentlemen, seemingly awaiting the opportunity to let you take their picture. For all I know it may well be so bursting still.
We are all aware that nowadays things have changed and you’ll more probably be arrested for frolicking, even without a camera. With a camera in hand of course makes you public enemy number X and if you’re lucky you’ll make it, battered and bruised and for an indeterminate period, to a rat-infested mouldy cell after an intense session at the back of the lock-up with three beefy cops, a can of capsicum spray, a rubber hose and the spine of a telephone directory.
Well perhaps it hasn’t quite reached that level - yet. However, let’s be honest, it’s not quite the same, innit. I mean to be frank even this chappy doesn’t look overly enthusiastic about my using him as a model. But at least he isn’t throwing anything and I probably wasn’t captured on a direct CCTV feed to Interpol.
My point? The point is that, in most countries so far as I’m aware, it is perfectly legal to take pictures of people in public areas. Whether you should or not is of course another question altogether. But, speaking for myself, I have always tried to be respectful, usually holding up the camera after making eye contact as if to say “I’m about to take your picture”. I think most reasonable people photographers work this way. If the would-be subject really doesn’t want that to happen they’ll let you know. Otherwise, fair enough, take the damn picture, nod, wave, say “obrigado” or whatever and move on. Transaction complete, everyone’s OK and we’ve had some kind of human interaction where there wouldn’t have been any otherwise.
Perhaps it all changed sometime and that little mutually understood piece of social nicety got buried somewhere. No, that’s not right, it still works most of the time, and with smiles rather than obloquy or opprobrium. But it is harder, that’s for sure. And if, like me, you kind of exist to take pictures, then you can’t help but wish that it was all so simple again and that so many people weren’t so goddamned up-tight. Even if the picture is fated to uselessly spend the next 26 years in a negative file.
As for the photo itself - the verdict? Well, that’s not up to little ol’ me now, is it.