Who Will Buy?

Who Will Buy?


There is a great pathos here. This is one portrait that I almost wish that I had not taken. It evokes a strong sense of pity in me, and in a way that’s not what I want to feel. I don’t want to take a photo because I might pity someones life: that I might pity this man.

Pity is a natural feeling and it should prompt me to action, because I care.

The result is that I feel that I’ve taken advantage of this man, that I have used him….. to make my photo….that I can claim to have made an aesthetic statement at the expense of this man…..makes me feel guilty.

I’m sorry.



6 thoughts on “Who Will Buy?

  1. When I view the photo, I feel like you’re sharing a glimpse of someone’s life that I would never have seen otherwise. A glimpse of someone working hard to make a living in this world.

    • At the time of taking the photo you are in a busy street with many distractions and so much potential material around you that it’s only when you get home that you become aware of what you have….and sometimes good fortune dictates that subject and composition come together to make a successful picture. Thanks Cynthia for your comment.

  2. John I agree with Cynthia’s comment above. Having said that I have felt the same feelings about some of my own pictures.
    This is obviously just my opinion, but I think that your ability to make an image that speaks to others (and it has to have aesthetic qualities to do that) isn’t an abuse but a statement of good in the world. The fact is, you make good photo’s that people relate to and that can only be a good thing. There are photographers around that do take advantage but I definitely don’t think that you do. You make great pictures and clearly do so from a good ethical viewpoint.

    • Thanks very much Peter. I am conscious that wanting to bag some good shots can sometimes override ones normal desire not to be intrusive or too pushy. I know that taking photos in the street is, by and large, o.k.
      Also I get rather rebellious when advised ‘No Photography’ so am guilty of shooting first and asking afterwards.
      A friend and I were in Glasgow last year and saw a guy leaning against a wall reading. I shouted ‘I saw him first’ much to the amusement of the man……

  3. I see the work, the making of a living … and I’ve pondered your sense of guilt.
    Perhaps it is the look on his face that makes you feel that way. I see an excellent photo with so much depth.
    (the story of “I saw him first” cracked me up)

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