Street Photogrphy and Dealing With My First Confrontation

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This blog post was syndicated from Chris Gouge. It and the images here are used with permission.

I wrote in last weeks blog post about conquering fears, how photographing people in the street isn’t as scary as most people think and how usually people won’t even notice you.  In my time of doing street photography, while although a relatively short time, the vast majority have either not noticed or ignored it, assuming I was taking a photo of something else, a few people have played up to the camera and a very small number have very politely asked me not to take their photo.  However, while I was in Madrid I encountered my first confrontation and angry subject.

I usually always try to avoid photographing Children as I know how sensitive people can be about this, however while walking around a market in Madrid I noticed this very sweet girl helping out her Father at their stall, and soon later when another smaller child arrived she then started talking to and trying to entertain this younger girl.  The whole time, both helping out her Father and playing with the younger girl there was so much genuine warmth and willingness to help in her eyes I simply had to take a photo.

Living in London where I find most people to be stuck in their own little bubble, not caring about anyone around them, not wanting to talk to anyone, and far too much rudeness for my liking, this girl’s, genuine warmth and kindness was obvious and stood out to me so I wanted to capture it.  (A contrast which can perhaps be noticed in the photo below).

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Annoyingly I couldn’t capture the moment that I wanted, without people either getting in the way or myself getting noticed, thus ruining my chances of photographing a real, authentic and candid moment – which is what I aspire to in all my photography; so I stayed around slightly longer than I would have liked to.

I took very few photos, I simply just watched, waiting for the right moment to take a photo, for what was only 2 or 3 minutes.  Yet sure enough the girls father soon noticed me with my camera and ran over to start shouting at me.

He started shouting ‘No pictures, no pictures!’ and then his friend also came over and started shouting at me in Spanish.  I tried talking to them but it was clear they didn’t really speak English so I simply said ‘Ok’ and walked away and that was the end of it.

I completely understand the father being protective of his daughter, but at the end of the day, no one got hurt and 2 minutes later we were back to our own thing again.

The point is, that although confrontation is never nice, you shouldn’t allow it to stop you from taking photos.  Confrontation is very rare, this is the only time I’ve had someone angry at me and at the end of the day, what is the worst thing that can happen?  So someone, might get angry with you briefly, but it isn’t going to kill you.  Usually it is only someone’s own paranoia that causes them to get angry.  In the rare times that it does happen, simply smile and walk away and that will usually be the end of it.

Please enjoy the rest of my photos from Madrid and if you would like to keep up to date with all of my blog posts then Like my Facebook page.

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