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HELP WANTED: Why do people hate having their photo taken

cebes johnson , Sep 14, 2004; 01:15 p.m.


I realize there are many professionals within this forum, however, I do hope some will take time to share their experiences and wisdom in this area.

Being relatively new to photography and Leica, studying the old and modern masters, etc. I have become beyond all things rather frustrated and demotivated as to the simple fact as to why people so hate having their photo taken?!

I could understand if you are with the mafia for example, however, this incorporates a small percentage of people.

Do people really feel they are so important that I truly care about them!

There was a time where people enjoyed having it, now, as a result of, perhaps the paparazzi, everyone seems to have a problem with it.

I realize that cultures paly a role, however, not by much. I have traveled all over Europe and beyond, for lengths at a time, and the only cultures I have never had a problem shooting are the naive and innocent cultures where technology does not exist such as in most of the world.

A recent thought, upon reading after the death of HCB, a post where someone said, "Look this guy thinks he's HCB or something," when in fact it was HCB (who related this story to a friend, and hence became known) who use a handkerchief to cover his camera pretending he was sneezing to get the shot.

Many may muse at this, however, I dont like it.

I go out with a hunter's mentality, yet I am not a thief. I do not want to feel like one.

I read how great photographer make their subjects comfortable in a variety of ways, yet, as a flaw of mine. I am not a people person. I do not want to make love to them, and in 5minutes I will never rembmer who they were who so moved me for whatever reason to capture their image or whatever bit of reality I wished to capture.

so, indeed, I am genuinely frustrated and quite frankly saddened at this stage of the game.

I do hope some are able to see the heart of what I am trying to get at, I do not want to go on and on....it is truly disturbing me.

Is it the "paparrazi" that has ruined it for all? Will this be a continued part of my learning curve and something one must simply "get used to"?

Help, thoughts, advice and experience on this one post would be more appreciated thatn any other you may contribute to.


Cebes in Europe


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Eric ~ , Sep 14, 2004; 01:33 p.m.

Are we talking about strangers in the street that hate their photo taken?

I'm not sure if it's the paparazzi, but I do think it's the media sensationalizing it/us, and make us look like the bad guys once in awhile. It used to be a rare and highly respected craft that everyone cooperated with. I remember the sneers I suddenly started to get after Princess Dianna's death...from hero to zero in one incident.

Nathan Dandar , Sep 14, 2004; 01:49 p.m.

It could be a few things. One thing I see here is a widespread wave of ignorance that has swept across the USA since the twin-towers incident. Everything from people being nervous about their security when their picture is being taken (how??? I don't get it) to them outright screaming "TERRORIST!" covering their face and running away from someone who points a camera at them (yes, I'm serious). People are ignorant and somehow think terrorists walk through parks taking photos of birds.

Two, maybe people are just self-conscious. I know I hate seeing photos of myself. People may see someone with a camera and think "AH! My hair is a mess.. and I have this old shirt on. I'm all sweaty from standing outside here. Now he's going to have me in a photo and be looking at me looking like a mess later." or maybe some people just don't feel confident enough about themselves and hate the idea of total strangers poring over their photos and staring at them in private later. Heck, that gives ME the creeps too.

Liam Maloney , Sep 14, 2004; 02:00 p.m.

Here's part of the problem... You say the following things:

"Do people really feel they are so important that I truly care about them!" and

"I go out with a hunter's mentality" and

"I am not a people person." and finally,

"I do not want to make love to them, and in 5minutes I will never rembmer who they were who so moved me for whatever reason to capture their image or whatever bit of reality I wished to capture."

A little bit of respect, compassion and genuine interest goes a long way towards breaking down the barriers between strangers. Long enough that you might even be able to make a good photograph. If you "hunt" your subjects, they'll run... like prey usually does. If you don't "truly care about them" it's unlikely that they'll truly care about you, either. Finally, if you've forgotten what inspired you to make a picture 5 minutes after releasing the shutter, chances are you didn't capture much of anything. If you're not a people person, try wildlife or landscapes. Get interested in your subjects and you will make interesting photographs (sometimes!)

Jerry Litynski , Sep 14, 2004; 02:23 p.m.

Simple answer: salesmanship.

If, you in your quest for a good photograph, lack any idea of how to handle the situation, you will gain zip. On the other hand, if you are somewhat relaxed and spend a bit of time in light conversation with your subject, the 'salesmanship' required will generally net you a decent time with your subject.

If you have a attitude, why do you expect your photo subject not to have a like attitude?

Derek Stanton , Sep 14, 2004; 02:26 p.m.

I don't like having my picture taken. By anyone, for any reason. If i catch you trying, i'll smack the schtuff out of you.

As for everyone else, you'd have to ask each individual person. There are no rules, and no way to apply some 'pop-sociology' rationalization to any population.

Jean-Marc Liotier , Sep 14, 2004; 03:02 p.m.

Many people believe that they look ugly in picture. I show camera shy people their picture on the small screen and help them understand that if they are relaxed they will look much better. Once they understand that I'm on their side and once they trust me not to publish embarassing shots, they forget about me and behave naturally.

The other thing that helps a lot is the photographers self assurance. If you look shy, people will notice and they will be more likely to challenge you. On the contrary, if you move around like you own the place people will take you for granted and leave you alone. Appearances go a long way !

Kevin Mendenhall , Sep 14, 2004; 03:04 p.m.

"If i catch you trying, i'll smack the schtuff out of you."

Jay? Is that you?!

Volker Hett , Sep 14, 2004; 03:05 p.m.

I have to second Liam, lots of people like to have their photo taken and published! Photography is comunication and the way you comunicate with your subjects is the second step on your way to people photographie. The first step is what you comunicate. If you don't like the people you want to shoot, why waste film?

Eric ~ , Sep 14, 2004; 03:07 p.m.

Liam, great answer.

Derek, not great at all.

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