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Serendipitous moments June 22, 2010

Posted by Bill in Photography, Reflection.
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Any photo shoot of a public place can get complicated when people don’t want their pictures taken.  While photographers have the statutory right to collect images in public places, the pleasure of the shoot can be quickly undermined by bad blood and misunderstanding.  To avoid that outcome, I generally attempt to get permission of subjects before they wind up in a photo.

Such permission I sought from this family, who by their excellent choice of picnic sites, wound up in the middle of one of the better angles on the Fair Oaks trestle bridge. 

When I approached them with my usual apologies, not only were they very okay being in the shot, they voiced concern that I might be in need of some of their chipotle barbecue chicken, it being the dinner hour, after all.  I declined, but only because I was rapidly losing my low-angle sunlight and I had more photo stops to make on this stretch of the river.  With shots taken, I was left much enriched by their warmth and hospitality.  Not only did it make my day, I am reminded of their warmth each time I see this image.

On the other side of the balance was the shot I took of a fifty-ish white guy on his road bike as he approached on the bike path.  As he passed, he muttered in as hostile a tone he could muster at 15 mph, “You don’t have my permission!”  That’s cool, and it’s only remarkable because he stands alone in my memory of hundreds of shots taken for this project.   In every other circumstance I was either waved to, smiled at, nodded to, or ignored.  Mostly ignored.  Frankly, he needn’t have worried, as I didn’t use any shots of obviously unhappy people.  They don’t make for good photos for promoting bicycling, so while I didn’t need his permission to publish the shot of him, he did not receive my permission to pollute this blog or the State Fair photo exhibit with his unhappy mug.  Ugly doesn’t sell.  I may dig it out when I do a piece on “grumpy old men on bikes,” but until I do, his dour visage is safe from publication.

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