Fear of photographing mannequins and little girls

By “fear,” I mean more the “what do other people think of me?” type of thought process.

Lately, I’ve been photographing a lot of inanimate objects as I’ve discovered that photography is not really about what you photograph but how you do it.

It’s so much fun because there are all these shades of light, shadows, geometrical lines and interesting juxtapositions out there that “regular,” the – non-photography people – rarely pay attention to. Even photographers sometimes miss out on all these details.

Luxembourg, 2019

I remember that when I was photographing those mannequins, I did that as if they were real people, trying to get the best composition, changing perspective, etc. That’s what was going on in my head.

When I made the picture above, there were a couple of ladies standing by. In their head, they were probably wondering why would anyone take so many photos of a shop window.

I was aware of their presence and their likely above-mentioned thoughts, but at the time, I was too busy taking photos to pay much attention to them. But sometimes we just have a feeling of someone staring at us or that we’re being watched.

Recently I started to think about it, as I was looking at the photo above.

Do we often not take pictures of things in addition to people, simply because we are worried about what others are thinking of us? That we would look weird if we take pictures of traffic lights or anything that people normally don’t photograph?

Of course, if I wouldn’t know about photography, I would probably do the same. I would wonder why would anyone take pictures of insignificant things. It’s natural for us human beings to feel curious, and anything that’s out of the norm draws our attention.

When others are looking at us, it makes us feel uncomfortable, as it in a way shines a spotlight on us. And we don’t want to be categorized as weirdos.

But there’s nothing we can do about it except to just ignore and do our thing.

Getting close to people and taking pictures of them is the same thing. People don’t understand that.

Why would anyone make a picture of another human being? Crazy! You can only photograph 1) your cat; 2) your latte; 3) yourself; 4) The Eiffel tower (not at night) and 5) a street musician (but only from 300 ft – 100m – away).

E.g., there was recently an article published in PetaPixel about a street photographer who made pictures of people in a fair and apparently he also took a picture of some random kid. No big deal, right? Wrong!

Someone made a picture of him (apparently for that person it’s OK to take pictures of strangers) with a smartphone, uploaded the thing on FB and called him a pervert or whatever. The netizens went batshit insane, and the post went viral. People threatened to beat him up, called him with all kinds of words, etc.

I’ve made tons of pictures of kids myself. Sometimes, parents have asked me to delete the photo and if they ask nicely (which has always been the case so far), I’ll do it, no problem. I don’t have to do it, as the law is on my side, but a picture is nothing special for me. I can always make better photographs later.

The thing is, most people will never understand your art. There’s no point in trying to explain it to them either. It’s a waste of time.

These people (the above-mentioned netizens) have a lot of trauma energy, and they are constantly looking to gossip, complain, flame, hate, threaten, fight, argue, etc. With you trying to reason with them, it just gives them more fuel. These are extremely toxic people and best to stay away from them.

But this is what we, (street)photographers have to live with. It’s uncomfortable, but you better become comfortable being uncomfortable. Push your comfort zone so much that eventually, it will extend and what was uncomfortable at first, is now comfortable.

Keep doing your art. Just don’t break the law and don’t listen to anyone telling you about ethics or giving you morals.

KRISTJAN