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Old 08-16-2006, 05:26 AM
cgrindahl cgrindahl is offline
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Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,310
Default Re: Why so few people shots from N America and Europe?

There is no requirement to secure a model release if the person photographed is in the public domain and the image is not used for a commercial purpose. Relax folks and have fun!

To the larger question I recall my first trip outside the United States. I took a Greek freighter in 1969 from Brooklyn, New York to Pireaus, Greece, with a single stop in Tripoli, Libya. Years later, as a graduate student in architecture I was assigned a book called Personal Space that helped explain what I experienced in Tripoli. While Americans tend to experience personal space that extends perhaps three feet from their body, those in Libya experience a personal space that is almost internal. In America, if someone catches your gaze, they will typically turn away. In Tripoli, my gaze was met with a penetrating stare. I learned that in some cultures to experience another person is to be close enough to smell their body odor, while those of us in the West do everything we can to extinguish any personal odor lest we offend those around us.

I'm a student of Buddhism and Hinduism so I have a deep appreciation of the openness one experiences in the faces of folks photographed in Asia and Southeast Asia. Yes, the setting is exotic, the colors often brilliant, but it is the open gaze of folks peering toward the camera that I find mesmerizing. Frankly, the stare of a frazzled suburbanite rushing through life I find both agitating and uninteresting. I do my best to find worhty subjects and have posted a few images of men, women and children out and about, but I've yet to meet anyone who offered me the kind of gaze I find regularly in photos from those who work in Asia.

We're accustomed to having our privacy respected, certainly so when a stranger appears with camera in hand. I've found that the best way to get photos of people is to be open about the presence of my camera and to stay in one place long enough that those around me begin to relax as I randomly shoot. Of course, that won't always satisfy everyone, like the mother who approached me to ask if I'd taken a photo of her daughter. I said I probably had since I was shooting everyone and everything in the area. To satisfy her I cycled through my photos and when I found a rather innocuous photo of her daughter I deleted it. One of the hazards of taking photos in the United States!
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