Have you ever felt guilty about taking photos of strangers, especially without permission?
I tried to put myself into their shoes. If someone was to suddenly come in front and snap a picture of me, I would feel quite uncomfortable. Especially since I am quite sensitive on how I look on a picture (haha). I would want myself to look cool.
Anyway, I just want to blog about the one time I gave printed photos back to the uncle who allowed me to take his portraits.
One day, me and 3 others went shooting around Tiong Bahru area. If you are from Singapore, you might be aware that the area around Tiong Bahru bakery is either full of expats or elderly.
And it is very quiet like a peaceful ghost town. Suddenly we spotted an eldely strolling around his backyard. Of course, two of us just hold up our cameras.
After a while, the uncle went into his house.
But we loitered around hoping to take more of his shots.
He caught us. But he gently asked ‘are you all taking pictures of me?’
I said yes. And I asked for his permission. To my surprise, he stood, smiled and posed for us.
He then pointed at my twin lens reflex and asked what I was using. So a conversation began and he also showed us his camera, a Yashica D, which he used a lot when he was young.
Too bad, he already threw away all his negatives and photos. Otherwise, I might invite myself into his house and see his photos. Haha
We promised to send him the photos. I was late in keeping my promise for a month because I didn’t have time to print and go to Tiong Bahru.
I felt restless.
I kept thinking what if he was waiting for us? (silly I know, he has a life)
Finally, I managed to drop by Tiong Bahru after work.
Unfortunately, he wasn’t home! His wife answered the door and was skeptical about me.
But after I reassured her that the photos are free, she smiled and thanked me.
I felt so happy!
This led me to think of the time when I travelled to Bodhgaya, India in year 2009. Every one loved to have their photographs taken! Kids especially. They would form a line before me or they just smile and stood still and got ready for me.
At that time, I didn’t have a Instax camera, didn’t know what street/documentary photography was. I have always wished I could afford to give out 1000 instax shots for the Indians.
Why 1000? Because in rural area, once you have given one instax to a kid, the whole town will come. But I think they need food more than Instax.
So, my wish is unhelpful.
In conclusion, I think giving a photo back to your subject is one way you can make a difference in someone’s daily life. It sure brightens up their day.