One of the great joys and one of the special responsibilities for street and documentary photographers is the opportunity to witness our fellow human beings being, well, human. We are lucky enough to see people do all kinds of things in the street and in other public places. Sometimes those things are obvious and fit into the humanist tradition that the best street photographers follow: young couples kissing, families playing together, people wearing interesting clothing, people riding bikes or skateboarding, mothers carrying babies. You know the kind of thing: the list of options is limitless.
Now and again, however, I will come across a scene that while it appeals to me and I want to record it with my camera, I don't really know what's going on. This week's Pick is just one such time. Of course the opportunities to photograph people using mobile phones on the street are endless, but in this case, what is the person doing with hers?
Clearly whatever it is, it's causing a great smile, even some laughter. Is she photographing something? Perhaps she's talking to someone via Skype and is showing them another point of view? After all, she was sitting in a major public square in Lisbon on a brilliantly blue summer's day. Alone in the space she occupied, she was clearly enjoying herself. That's why I've called this photograph Mobile Phone Amusement. It is not possible now to ever discover what she was really doing (unless she or somone she knows reads this blog and let's me know!).
And of course, it really doesn't' matter does it? I mean, my role is to witness and share moments in the lives of people going about their normal everyday lives. Just as I did here. I suppose I really don't have to know what's going on do I?
Every viewer will come up with their own ideas about what this woman is doing, why she is smiling and why she is so clearly enjoying herself. And that's really the point. I bring the scene to you, the viewer, and you can then decide what the story is, what the photo is about. I quite like that idea. It makes the whole thing a great big sharing on many levels, don't you think?