I was in the skywalk when I spotted this kid strolling down the sidewalk and texting. I probably wouldn’t have paid him any attention at all if he hadn’t come to a sudden John Belushi-style halt. He sort of bounced up and down on his toes for a moment, then rushed over to the standpipe, sat himself down, and began texting furiously.
I started to take his photograph, then hesitated. There was something about his posture that led me to think he wasn’t getting pleasant news. I watched for a bit, feeling sorry for the kid and feeling a little guilty for spying on him in his misery. At least I assumed he was in misery; for all I know he could have been involved in some furious last-minute Ebay bidding on an autographed Lady Gaga poster.
So I stood there for a moment. It occurred to me that I’d have had no hesitation shooting his photo if he’d appeared happy–so why shouldn’t I take the shot just because he seemed distressed? Why should his mood be the deciding factor on whether or not I take a photograph? Why should that matter?
But it did. All the same, I shot the photograph. I felt like a voyeur, and in the end I only shot the one frame–but I took the shot. Afterwards, I found an exit from the skywalk and strolled over to the drugstore, though I’m not sure what my purpose was. I guess I thought maybe I’d see or hear something that would give me some hint as to the kid’s mood. But by the time I got there, he was gone.
I wish now I’d taken my time and shot three or four frames. If you’re going to do a thing, whether it’s morally questionable or not, you may as well do it properly.