I’ve never been a great photographer. I don’t think I’ve even been a good one.
Although I’ve had some random luck with some of my attempts at photography, I think it’s mostly been due to the subject being so beautiful and photogenic that it would be impossible to take a bad photo of it. Nothing to do with my skills as a photographer.
I got my first camera when I was about 11 years old. It was a Kodak Instamatic. With the flash cubes you put on the top. Like this one. Did you have one too?
I used the flash sparingly. As you can imagine, at 11 years old I didn’t have the cash to go out and buy flash cubes willy nilly. Likewise, I had a hard time finding the money to buy films and have them developed. For an 11 year old it was an expensive hobby.
I improved my skills when digital cameras arrived in our world. I could take a hundred photos of something and choose the best one. Brilliant for the untalented like me, you’re bound to get at least one good one. Furthermore it was free!
Because I travel a fair bit these days, I decided to try to improve, take better photos, do the world some justice instead of producing the simple snap shots that I’d been taking.
So, I started to do some research. Ooh, my poor brain! There’s so much to learn!
I did some (free) online courses.
All I learnt was that my brain is a sieve.
I asked questions on forums. My favourite site is this one. I was humbled by the generosity of the people there. They’re so willing to offer advice and help you improve your skills.
However, there was one rule I kept reading over and over again.
Don’t take photos of people from behind!!
Why not? I asked. The answers came: It’s voyeurism. Rude. Bad manners. Not polite.
Well, I’m much too shy to take photos of people in the street from the front, like ‘real’ street photographers do. The bravery! The courage! I just can’t do it.
Even more, I’m too scared to even approach people and ask them if I can take their photo. I would die.
So, from behind it is.
I’m now always on the lookout for interesting people I can shoot from behind.
Here’s one of my favourites:
This photo was taken in Russia and I like to think that she’s a typical Russian young woman. Maybe she’s going for a walk (in those shoes!!?). Maybe she’s coming home from work. Or maybe she’s going to visit a friend.
Even the guys in the photography forum agreed that sometimes it just might be ok to take photos from behind.
Look behind you
So, when you’re out on the street, in any country, any town, look behind you. You might see me. Taking your photo. From behind.