From: Shannon Stoney (email@example.com)
Date: 09/24/02-01:53:40 PM Z
>Therefore, though I am not into 'hurting' a soul
>physically nor mentally, if one is an artist, just go out and do it and
>don't fear the reaction you get . . nor, try to predict it. Just do it.
So, did you photograph those people working in the salad bowl, or not?
That would be an example of a time when I would feel a little weird
about photographing people. It's not just the class difference.
It's also that I'm not sure I would want to be photographed myself
that way, as an example of how exploited I was. (And I've had some
pretty bad jobs.) Maybe the best rule is: if that were you standing
on the street corner trying to snag a day job from a passing truck,
miles from home, would you want to be photographed? I think part of
the answer depends on what you think the photographer might be after,
what his or her motivation is. I would definitely not like to be the
object of anybody's "social concern," even at some of the really
sucky jobs I had. On the other hand, if the person seemed
interested in the work I was doing, rather than how unfortunate I
was, that might be different.
If there is a language barrier, that is, you as the photographer
can't talk to the people and communicate exactly what it is about
their lives that you find interesting--their work, for example, or
their community, rather than their powerlessness--then it wouldn't be
surprising if the subjects would assume that you were photographing
them in a voyeuristic way. I talked to a Hispanic artist here in
Houston about this issue. I said that I was interested in the lives
of the men who wait for day labor, but since I can't speak Spanish I
feel uncomfortable asking them in English if I can photograph them.
He said that they would probably not mind if a person like himself
who speaks Spanish approached them with that request. That seemed
right to me.
Similarly, the people on my road in TN that I have photographed a lot
knew me for 20 years before I started doing that, so they trust me.
Although one of them, who is a new neighbor, said, "I know what
you're doing. You're going to show these pictures to people in
Houston, to show them how backwards we are." I said, "That's right,
Jerry, and I'm going to make a whole lot of money doing it." The
humor sort of broke the tension. He let me take a picture, and he
was happy enough with the photograph I made of him to make a present
of it to his mother.
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