Two trees or one?
I know you have heard the horrible stories about journalists who are caught taking the "it" photo, the one that is forbidden but tells a story without any words and at the last moment they are caught by authorities and the film is destroyed. Or what about the story where the ignorant traveler takes a photo of the wrong person on the wrong day at the wrong time and ends up offending the subject. usually the story climaxes at a point where the subject is threatening the traveler but occasional the threats are carried out.
The above scenarios are usually at the back of my mind when my paparazzi style camera and I are wandering the streets of a foreign country. I have heard of the risks, but in all honesty, isn't it all just an urban legend?
For the casual traveler, yes; for me, no.
My mister and his cart
I always make a point when flashing film to ask the person or subject if it's OK for me to take their picture, I am over curious-yes, but rude- no. On my way to the docks on the edge of town, my friend and I decided to capture the city in its early hours. It was a small town, maybe 10,000 people. We had already walked through the town square, taking clips of the trees, flowers, statues- normal touristy things. Then, we started out two mile stroll toward the port. After getting lost more than once we were guided through a not-so-touristy part of town. Abandoned railroad tracks, dilapidated store fronts, horse drawn carts with produce headed for town... wait, horses! I love horses... and what a photo opportunity. I haven't ever seen a horse drawn cart actually being used before, and so poetic wit the rail yard in the back ground and the vegetation slowly taking over the neighborhood.
passer-by striking up conversation
So, in my artistic delight I decided to precariously "make friends" with my new subject. I approached and in my best (yet still horrible) Spanish I convinced the driver to stop and take a picture. He was more than enthusiastic about being in the photo- he even offered to get out and let me sit in the drivers seat. I showed him the picture on my display screen and said ciao. When turned around, I caught Sohmer and a passer-by talking in the street. The elderly woman had a cute little dog that was asking for a photo shoot. I talked to the owner who was excited about the pictures and began shooting away. We shared the photos and parted ways. But not too far down the road I was approached by a uniformed attendant. I was on the verge of yelling, "no pictures!" As I approached him, because I didn't have anywhere to go if I ran, he explained in a stern voice that I didn't have permission to take pictures here.
He wanted to know what pictures I had taken and where. Luckily, the dumb girl trick worked and we were able to pretend that we didn't speak the language but were just trying to find the Ferry to Uruguay.
The simple encounter was enlightening though. It seems that Argentines loves photos- when asked. they want to be involved and are very interested in conversing and talking time to talk about little things. Its the government that is concern. I got the impression that my touristy photos of the pristine statues, flower beds, and churches were all that the government wanted me to take home with me. they didn't find good advertising value in my taking pictures home of a "lesser" side of the city- however warm and memorable it was to me.