Have you ever thought about what your responsibility as a photographer is? I have. I think about it every time I pick up a camera. Every time I click the shutter, I make sure that the subject I am shooting is displayed, not only in an artistic way, but also in a way that gives respect to the point of interest that I am trying to capture. That is why, for the most part, I am against exploitation for my own benefit.
Before you go jumping to conclusions, let me explain. It seems that the quickest ways to fame as a photographer are to shoot scantily clad women giving come hither looks, or to take pictures of the less fortunate. I am not into either. I am happily married to the love of my life and I have no desire to be tempted by other women looking at me for any reason. I also have a beautiful daughter that I want to have a wonderful life filled with everything that she wants out of life. I don’t want her to grow up thinking that the only way she can get attention is by taking her clothes off. Especially, in this day and age of equal rights for women, I want her to be more than just an object for a man’s fantasy. I made the mistake of taking photos of bikini models once before, and the disappointment that my wife had, was enough for me to say, this isn’t for me. Don’t get me wrong, the woman is the most beautiful creature God ever created. But, I believe that they are beautiful for more than just sexual gratification.
The other topic I mentioned, is portrayed in the photo above. I feel, that taking photos of the less fortunate is exploitation of their situation. There is a famous photo of an African child dying in the desert, while a vulture slowly follows him, waiting for him to die, waiting for him to become a meal. The photographer that took that picture won a huge award for the photo because of the emotion that it draws out from the onlooker. When the photographer was asked what happened to the child, he couldn’t answer because he obviously snapped the photo and left. He did not get involved. It is safe to say that the child did not make it. But, the horror of the story does not end there. The story goes, that the photographer could not deal with the guilt of the fact that he left the child to die for his photographic glory, and later committed suicide. His pursuit of fame was more important than his morals.
You might be asking why I would take this photo attached, if I believe this way? I wish it were a simple answer. To me, this photo is about the nature of trust. This photo was taken at 4 am in the morning. I couldn’t get back to sleep this past Saturday in New York City, so I thought I would walk to Times Square and shoot some long exposure photography. The walk to the famous tourist trap was truly an adventure.You see, there are not many people out at that time of the morning that are up to anything other than no good. Between the prostitutes and people using or selling drugs, you really have to stay on guard at all times. This person in the photo is obviously so tired that he needed to sleep somewhere. He did not want to sleep on the ground, and he did not want to sleep in some secluded alley where he would not be bothered. He wanted to sleep in the most visible place in town, because that was the least likely place of being robbed. He is sleeping with his leg over his bag in attempt to be woken, should someone try to take it from him. To me, this is a horror story in it’s own right. To be alone, with nowhere to call your own, is a life I never want to know. That is part of my drive to be successful in life.
I do not know this man’s story, because I did not think it was right to wake him and ask. I made sure not to show his face, because I felt that was the best way to show respect to him as the subject. My heart and prayers go out to him and I hope that he gets to a place in his life where he never has to sleep on a concrete block ever again. There is an old saying that comes to mind. “If you can make it in New York City, you can make it anywhere.” This obviously rings true in this situation. Many of our greatest success stories start out like this. One day, when he has made it, I hope he finds this picture and knows that I respected him for trying to make it.