I’ve been working on a project which required me to spend some time yesterday going through various photography quotes. I found this one here, which got me to thinking: how important is your intention when you’re photographing someone? We sometimes change the traditionally aggressive terminology that’s associated with photography. Instead of taking a picture, we make one. We don’t shoot or capture, we save moments. But then I thought of a friend of mine who goes out of her way to take unflattering photos of people. She always means it to be a joke. But when you’re the unlucky one who gets caught in her lens, the word “captured” most definitely describes how it feels.
This got me to thinking about the whole process. It can be a mutual exchange of exposure and trust. And it can also be a violation, like the paparazzi who stalk people waiting for a chance to expose something embarrassing. But what makes it embarrassing? I think it’s the idea that a vulnerable piece of us would be carelessly spotlighted for others to see… and worse, judge.
So when a person allows you to take their picture, they’re essentially saying that they trust you with their vulnerabilities. This makes it such an honor and responsibility, and also a special challenge if you don’t know much about the person. Sarah Rhoads is one of my all-time favorite photographers. She recently went to Thailand, and had some really interesting things to say about her approach to street photography. She talks about how it’s not easy to walk up to a stranger and ask if it’s okay to take their picture. But I think it’s the willingness to be vulnerable first which opens the door for someone to trust you enough to expose them.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject. How do you bridge the gap between trust and exposure?