Somebody's Watching Us (Almere The Netherlands July 2013)
I seem to be revisiting some older images lately. I guess that's part of being on the road: you get to think about where you've been and what you've done. And for me, as a an artist, that sometimes involves just cruising through some of my work from along the way.
I made this image in Almere in The Netherlands last July. Seems like ages ago now, but not really that long I suppose. Anyway, it stuck me when I looked at this photgograph again today, that it is a truism that oftentimes people just seem to know they are being photographed.
I was standing at the top of a stairway when I spotted this couple eating their lunch. Actually, let me digress for a minute to the stairway itself. A strange stairway it was; it lead nowhere. Well, see for yourself:
Sitting on the Stairs to Nowhere (Almere The Netherlands July 2013)
See what I mean? I guess it was built as a place for people to sit, to meet and to watch the other shoppers mingling below. In any case, it made a great vantage point for me to watch people and, as I said, I spotted the couple in this week's Pick from the top.
Okay. Back to what I was saying. People just seem to sense sometimes when they are being photographed. I pick this up a lot in my work on the street. Most of the time it's really just an intuition of my own. What I mean is that sometimes as I focus on a person with my camera I just sense that they know at some level and don't want to be photographed. Sounds esoteric I know, but there it is; it just happens that way.
But, other times a person will have that feeling someone is watching them and turn around. Just like the young woman in the main photograph here. At the instant I was about to press the shutter, she turned around and looked up at me. For me, it really makes this photo a little bit special. I know she's looking a bit miffed in the photo, but as soon as she saw me she relaxed and smiled. I thanked her and she went back to eating her lunch. A pleasant encounter that a lot of street photographers will relate to.
How did she know? Well, we've all had that feeling haven't we? That someone is watching us. Call it intuition, or a sixth sense or a gut feeling. It's just that innate ability all of us have to "just know".
I guess there are a couple of things to take away from all this. Firstly, from my point of view as a street photographer, I am not unhappy when people see me; it often adds that extra special dimension to any resulting photo that's made. Second, it is good to acknowledge that there is always some kind of connection between the photographer and those being photographed - even if it is at a deep subconscious level.
Thirdly, while we all know what it's like to have that sense of being watched sometimes, we don't really think about how big a deal that actually is. What I mean to say is that we tend to trivialize this gut feeling, or whatever we call it. We don't realise or remember that if we can "just know" when someone is watching us, then we can "just know" a lot of other stuff as well. It's all about acting on our intuition. Just like the woman in the photo. She acted on her intuition when she turned to look.
And who can say what will happen when we follow our own intuitions, whatever they might be.