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Monday, March 28, 2011

On Meditation and Taking Candids

In Meditation
Photo by myself on Beech Street, in Boston.

Above, the only halfway decent photo I managed to take during my weekend in Boston.

Photographers were absolutely not shy, Sunday morning. They stood very close, while a woman was in meditation. The woman was a member of the Falun Gong, a religious group that uses meditation to attain spiritual well-being.


In the four years that I've been taking photographs regularly, I've seen an incredible change on the streets. I'm curious to know whether other people see it, too?

First, people in their daily lives seem much more on guard about being photographed. Street photography has become much more commonplace, and it seems harder to take good candids.

Second, photographers are bolder than ever. I'm not sure whether the paparazzi have influenced us, or the breakdown of boundaries via Facebook and other trends?

The above scene would certainly not have happened ten years ago. I truly hope this does not become a common sight.

Related posts: Stick Em Up, in Madison Square Park, On Contortionists and Viral Videos and Sun Salutation, in the East Village.


Joanne said...

This is a bit invasive, don't you think? There is a limit to peoples privacy.....

Olivier said...

je suis d'accord avec toi, les gens sont de plus en plus paranos,et en banlieue parisienne cela peut même devenir dangereux de faire de la photo dite de rue, je me suis fait agressé verbalement très souvent, même en ne prenant pas les gens directement (c'est pour ca que j'évite ce type de photos sur Evry). Jusqu'à maintenant j'avais trouvé que les New Yorkais étaient très ouvert, a voir au mois de Mai.

Alistair said...

I am in agreement with Joanne. This photo could have been taken at distance as yours was.
This way of working is prurient and does photography no favours.

Steffe said...

Very invasive. I used to shoot candid portraits a few years ago, but it is so much more fun to stop people and ask for a photo and some facts.

Ken Mac said...

totally abusive. You can't tell me she doesn't know they are there, and they just don't care. gives street photographers a bad rep. Invest in a telephoto lens if you insist on invading someone's privacy like that.

biebkriebels said...

This is very weird, you don't do this to someone, so close. Was she meditating in a parc or just on the street. I don't think she does this in full public eye.

Anonymous said...

1. if you don't want to be photographed when you are meditating, why are you in public? most people that do that would love to have such attention, if they don't then they should make that apparent.

2. The change you see might well be a bias confounded by your own perception of things. Maybe it was not the external world that was changing, but only yourself.

3. If there is anything to see, why would you contribute that to anything as unlikely as paparazzi or facebook? both of those entities have nothing to do with street photography. Paparazzi only take pictures of people that are in the public eye. Facebook? Eh?

4. In the 1940s to 80s there was a great street photographer names Kees Scherer. He took some incredible shots, some of which you may have found 'offensive'. I just think they are unique. Try this one, for instance


5. If anyone is more on guard, it's republicans, mall cops, corporate security, and other losers who see a terrorist on every street corner. I saw a cool bridge i wanted to shoot, then a security guy came up and asked what i was doing, and requested my ID. i obliged him, but according to the law i really did not have to.

WTakeuchi said...

I can't imagine myself behaving like those guys.
You are right, people do not feel confortable to be photographed unless you ask them to.

Tim said...

Well, we really don't know the lady's feelings! Personally, i would not want to take someone's picture if they did not want me to. But when you are taking a candid, you are not asking.. so maybe those people really really don't want to be photographed.. and when you are in somebody's face like that, at least they can either approve or object, so that you know whether it's ok..

fishwithoutbicycle said...

That woman is seriously good at meditation to be able to ignore that. I wonder if there will ever be a backlash about the way many people over share these days or whether it's here to stay.

Kitty said...

Thanks everyone. I knew this would intrigue you.

Anon, I brought up Facebook and the paparazzi as examples of breaking down society's boundaries, not as literal examples of what photography is shared by those media.

I do agree with Steffe, there is definitely a thrill of meeting a person and gaining their trust to take their photo. On the other hand, I personally like the quality of candids because people look so great and natural when they are not posing.

Anyway, I'm sure the debate will not be over for a while, and everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Lily Hydrangea said...

This looks so odd I have to wonder if there is something going on here that we aren't privy too? Like for instance, does the woman know these people? are they working on some sort of project together? is she a celebrity?
Interesting post Kitty.

Pierre said...

Woaw very impressive. I have never heard about thisd "religion" bt seem quiet.
Photographer are a little bit paparazzi with this woman.

Great shot Kitty

Andrea said...

I find that quite scary ... :-S surely with the technology nowadays and lenses that can get just as close from a few metres away, I don't understand why some people feel that they have the right to invade someone's personal space like that..