I often ask people taking pictures of family or friends if they’d like me to take a photo of them with the rest of their group instead of being the hidden photographer behind the camera. Most gratefully say yes, and usually return the favor if I’m with others myself. As an avid documenter of places, people and events I come across in my life, I know a fellow hidden photographer when I see one.
I’m not a fan of selfies. Something in the name seems… self-serving to me. It screams “Look at me in this spot! How great is this?” But a picture taken by another human of you at that same place? It indicates, if only to me, that another person was in the story saying “Hey, this would be a good picture with you in the foreground“. Mind games on my part perhaps, but it validates the picture for me anyway.
Look, I understand, sometimes there’s nobody around to take the group photo so you gather up the group tightly, extend your arm as far as you can (I refuse to get a selfie stick) and snap away. Instantly recognizable selfie picture. Use it as you wish, but use discretion. I don’t judge, I just don’t want to do it myself.
There’s a certain agreement amongst humans in taking photos of each other that connects us. I took a picture of a gentleman from Asia who didn’t speak English walking across the Abbey Road crosswalk, and he did the same for us. I almost watched him get run over taking that picture of us, as he was so focused on getting it right that he ignored the cars approaching behind him and walked out into the road with us snapping away as we crossed the walk. Now that was a connection between two people who will never see each other again. He almost made the ultimate sacrifice for a tourist picture. I’m certainly grateful it didn’t end up a headline. He did a great job, drama aside. And I’m happy to say his picture came out well too. Wish I’d sent myself a copy of it.