Sunday, January 05, 2014

BUS STORY # 374 (Every Picture Tells A Story)

On the buses by La cervelle en été
On the buses, © All Rights Reserved, a photo by La cervelle en été on Flickr.

There are times I wish I could just pull out my camera and take a picture of certain co-riders.

But I don’t.

I don’t because I’ve seen and heard about too many folks who get upset when some stranger takes their picture.

I had such an experience myself way back in 2006, when I was taking the photo for Bus Story # 14. I was standing across the street taking a picture of the Rapid Ride stop in front of the Talin grocery store, and a guy waiting there called out he didn’t want his picture taken.

He was the only person there -- I’d waited on purpose until after the bus had come and picked everyone up so there wouldn’t be anyone in the picture.

I called out to him that I didn’t want him in my picture, either, but I wanted a picture of the bus stop, and would he please move.

To my surprise, he did. I framed the shot, then motioned him to move further away. And he did.

I remember thinking maybe the guy was wanted somewhere, or wasn’t supposed to be in Albuquerque, and was afraid his photo appearing God knows where would give him away. And I remember laughing to myself because I knew he was too far away for my point-and-shoot to come anywhere close to capturing his face. But given today’s technology...

I’ve thought about sneaking photos with my phone, but the sneaking part leaves me feeling uncomfortable. I once saw someone angrily accused of doing that. I don’t know whether he was really sneaking a photo or he just had the bad luck to run into a paranoid.

I know from pouring over what must by now be thousands of Flickr photos that a lot of amateur photographers simply ask their subjects if they would mind being photographed. But I worry such a request would be taken as an insult, as a foregone conclusion that whatever it was I’d found noteworthy about their appearance could not possibly be complimentary.

And so I keep my camera and my phone to myself.

Lately, I’ve been reading about Google Glass, a computer you wear like glasses and can use to take pictures or videos of what you’re looking at. Even at this early stage, outside developers are already working on apps that will make the picture-taking a stealth behavior.

However, there have also been some very unpleasant encounters between Google Glass wearers and people who recognized what they were wearing. One fast food customer in France had his glasses ripped off his face by an irate counter clerk.

I don’t think I’d try wearing those on the bus anytime soon.

The consolation for not having the photographic image is the exercise of describing what I’ve seen, and why what I’ve seen is noteworthy to me. That has also been one of the real pleasures of the portrait series.

Still, there are times I’d love to have the photographic image. Next week’s portrait of an old cowboy is one of those times.

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The photo at the top of this story is titled “On the buses,” © All Rights Reserved, and is posted with the permission of La cervelle en été. You can see all La cervelle en été’s photos on Flickr here.

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Thanks to BB in Boston for this week's featured bus story: One January in: Boston.

4 Comments:

OpenID rlsherman said...

Well said, my brother. I often get told, when people read my stories, "ooh, I wish you had taken a picture!" My response is typically a combination of just what you said as well as a reminder that our imaginings are far more intense than reality. A picture of the subjects of my stories, which are more fantastical reality than anything, would distort the image I'm working to convey.

Happiest of New Year's to you!

12:16 PM  
Blogger Top-of-the-Arch said...

Happy New Year and best wishes to you and Mrs. Busboy. I understand folks not wanting stranger taking their picture. I also try to be courteous and avoid including anyone in my photos or letting the person know so he/she could move away. I had a personal experience with a “dirty old man” (just kidding) who literally chasing after me to take my picture. I was a volunteer at the Missouri Botanical Garden. When I saw the man pointing his camera directly at my face, I turned and walked away. He continued to follow me and finally stopped when his wife intervened and after I escaped into the ladies’ room!!!!

8:49 PM  
Blogger Busboy said...

@ risherman: Well said yourself, Richard. I still have a vivid picture of that “larval stage Banshee” getting ready to “molt.”

@Top-of-the-Arch: Thank you, and best wishes for the new year to you and your family, too. I haven’t given a lot of thought about why people photographing us without our permission is such a provocative intrusion, but I certainly have that sense and don’t wish to inflict it on others -- or subject myself to the unpleasant business of a reaction. That said, I have to assume your would-be photographer could not help but notice the resemblance between the lovely botanical garden flowers and your face.

9:03 AM  
Blogger Top-of-the-Arch said...

Thanks Busboy - I had a good laugh reading your kind comment about the would-be photographer wanted to take my picture. You are not only a good storyteller but also a very funny commentator. Perhaps I could use this line to a person who objects to my taking his/her picture, "You are so good looking that I have to take your picture." I will let you know if it works or I might get a bloody nose instead!

5:03 PM  

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