a small drama

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.

3 thoughts on “a small drama

  1. Even when people are happy, I feel like a voyeur. When Linus and I went moochin’ with John a few months ago, John had no hesitation about taking anyone’s photo. There was a certainty in his actions which was inspiring.


  2. Jolene, I get what you’re saying. But it seems to me that if you’re prepared to take the shot, you ought to be prepared to publish it. Otherwise you’re just photo-wanking. You don’t have to share it, of course, but why would you shoot a photograph you’re not at least willing to share IF the photo turns out well?

    John, your Irish counterpart is a piece of work. I wonder if he was always comfortable photographing strangers, or if he developed that level of comfort over time. Oddly enough, I think I’d feel more comfortable doing it if I wasn’t using a dslr. For some reason, that gear makes the act seem more intrusive–which I realize doesn’t make a lick of sense.


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