Portraits of a Native American Dancer

Native American in Santa Fe

Here’s another shot from my trip down to Santa Fe.  We were walking around the plaza, and we walked over by the La Fonda, any of you who might know Santa Fe a little bit know that the parking lot across from the La Fonda is a really small open air bazaar.  It’s kind of interesting.  They usually have blankets, and shirts, and general Santa Fe stuff.  They usually have the best price on Ristra’s too (at least in the plaza).  If you don’t know what those are, they are the bundles of chili peppers that are bright red.  The are great still life fodder, but again still life isn’t the first thing I look for when I’m walking around.  I want people to photograph, whether I know them or not. 

So this is another shot with my 70-200.  Which this was the first time that I think my lens kinda got me in trouble a bit.  Obviously if you’ve seen a 70-200 before you know, but let me describe it for the people who have never seen a lens like that.  It’s at least 14” long.  It’s big, black, and … o wow, anyways the thing is huge.  And the final element looks huge too.  My girlfriend ashley uses the final element to do her makeup in all the time.  Ok so now you have a better understanding as to what this lens looks like.  I also had it on my d700 which isn’t a small little dinky camera that says “hey I’m completely an amateur”.  I least I didn’t have my nikon strap on.  I’m sorry but here’s a little piece of advice for those of you that own the pro level DSLR’s and wear the nikon strap.  I know you’re representing.  Showing your colors.  Here’s the deal.  That nikon strap, with the model number on it…. Is like a price tag for thieves.  It says “Nikon D700, If you steal me you could get $1500 cash.”  Keep that in mind next time you’re wearing your nikon strap.

Anyways back to me getting in trouble.  So I walked up and as soon as I brought my viewfinder up to my face, this guy went into this spiel about how tips are appreciated, because he’s seen his face in all these photography magazines, and how he never gets paid for his image.  Basically trying to make me feel guilty for even taking his picture.  He was for sure talking to me.  He kinda stared me down a bit.  It was almost comical.  Now I totally understand this guy is trying to make some tip money, and that’s great.  But he’s also become a public display, and I don’t see why he thinks that the guys with the pro level camera has to pay to take his picture.  For those of you who don’t under most state laws once you become a public display, ie a street performer, you are allowed to be photographed just a like a building or a street sign.  Now here’s the real funny part.  I even opened up my wallet to give him a buck or two, because I enjoyed what he was doing, not because I felt bad about taking some shots of him.  What did I find in my wallet? A hundred dollar bill.  Nope sorry buddy, but you’re not gonna get my hundred. 

In the end I took this as another experience where I’m going to have to just deal with feeling a little bit uncomfortable about taking peoples pictures who I really don’t know.  This happens to me in New York a lot.  I walk around 16th street all the time.  And yes I photograph random people on the street.  Most of the time, they either don’t notice, or don’t care.  Either one of those reactions is fine with me.  The people who really do care make me a little uneasy, and thusly why it makes me a little nervous to take pictures of random people.  But to get truly great street photography that’s what you have to do.  And really some of my favorite shots are of people that I’m certain I will never see again.  Now I’m not saying that if someone tells me not to take their picture that I will for some reason keep shooting away.  I definitely try and respect peoples wishes when it comes to that sort of thing.  I have no interest in invading peoples privacy in that way.  And I NEVER take pictures of peoples kids if I don’t know them.

What’s your feeling on taking pictures of people you don’t know?  Have you done any street photography?  How do you handle the people who react poorly?    


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