Photographing People. And Running Away. / by ellie berry

It's an interesting thing to try, street photography. And for me, that name in no way whatsoever implies that it must be conducted in a street, city, or town. When I look at it, it's the art of photographing people. And running away. 

Take (or don't take) a camera and head into a public place. Sit somewhere and just watch. Watch the old man try and get the idea across to his grandson, that if he wants his sandwich/lollypop/ice-cream to remain intact and edible, he must hold it properly and stop throwing leaves into the pond. Then there's the person dressed and walking as if they owned the place (and the look like they could) and another (who looks like they got dressed in the dark). I judge them, as cruel or cold as that may sound. But it's something we all do, even just subconsciously. Lets say you met someone wearing the t-shirt of a well known person you found to be completely against your moral code - you probably couldn't help forming an opinion of them without completely being introduced. It's not a set impression, but it certainly effects how your first interactions go. I have been told of a woman in Ireland who makes a living out of dressing people for job interviews. And while you watch people, you are trying to portray yourself in a certain manner to those passing so they may judge you in a way you find favourable to you. Im sure some part of it originates from a time where your survival relied on others seeing you as too strong. 

Taking a camera out changes people's reaction to you. People go from subconsciously wondering if their toothpaste smeared collar matters, to giving you hostile looks, or even asking what you are doing. Most are more just guarded and looked ruffled from the encounter, too busy heading to where ever their lives require them to actually stop. But the chance of that look, the chance of the person stopping you almost stops the photo-taking to begin with. More often than not, people just become more withdrawn from you, or just look away. Once the first one or two shots are taken, the slight kick from catching the people has set in, and all you want to do is more. With laws becoming stricter, and never being sure if the image is completely allowed or consented to, for me it turns into a game of shoot and hide. 

This evening I went walking the campsite with my film camera, something that looks a lot less imposing than carrying a big digital one, and shot kids blowing bubbles, a man standing around in a dressing gown. The tension is heightened by the fact that these people will be seen again, as the furthest away you can walk is six lots down to your own area. Maybe this is why I have waited until the end of this stay to try and photograph this temporary home. Or maybe it's only the fact that I'm running out of time, I'm brave enough to overcome the fear.