Have you ever paid to take a photo

I did something that I’m not proud of and I still feel guilty about it.

I might have well worn a bright red shirt emblazoned in bold lettering across the front “Westerner” because as I stood out like a sore thumb. Everyone stared or looked at me longer than necessary. This was Davao city, home of the President of the Phillipines which had been labelled as one of the most dangerous cities due to the countries war on drugs however, what I found was entirely different to what the worlds media was reporting.

Everyone who I interacted with were the opposite to how they had been portrayed, they were normal people trying to make their way in life. Pay bills, put food on the table, keep a roof over their heads and make sure their kids get an education. Pretty much like the rest of us except for two old ladies that I tried to photograph.

They saw me, I saw them and I had already decided that I was going to take their photo but every time I brought the camera up to eye level, they both turned away from me so I couldn’t see their faces, but when the camera was lowered they had their hands out wanting money.

This went on for several minutes and what seemed the only way to capture an image was to surrender and give them money.  So with 20 pesos in one hand and the camera in the other I managed to capture this shot and I tried to photograph the other woman but she wasn’t having anything to do with it and continued to turn away from the camera when pointed in her direction.

Begging

The 20 Pesos quickly vanished into thin air and again they both asked for money however neither were going to allow me to take another photo. Turning to walk away I noticed that I had been watched by a woman, who was well dressed and had a look of scorn on her face. In any language I knew, in her books what I had done was wrong and I shouldn’t have handed over any money nor should I have taken their photo. She didn’t say anything as I passed but the feeling of her stare drilling holes in my back as I walked away is not something that is easy to forget.

To this day, I’m not sure why but there is lingering guilt over paying the 20 pesos, this might be due to the scorn from the local woman or something else. I don’t think I’ll ever know.

What do you think, Is my guilt about paying money justified?

Happy Shooting

The Brandy of Distinction

I often wander the streets of Sydney looking for interesting subjects to photograph when I noticed this guy sitting with his two dogs in the entrance to St James train station. What caught my eye was the sign directly behind him and the sheer number of people who simply ignored him as they went about their lives.

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Normally I don’t like to photograph people who are homeless for many reasons and the main reason is that I don’t want to or seem to be taking advantage of them but I couldn’t resist asking him if he minded if I took his photo.

Walking up to him, I stuck my hand out and introduced myself, asking him about his dogs and he told me their names and  that one was the mother and the other the daughter but for the life of me I can’t remember which. The blue heeler that he is holding growled at me but the blue heeler at his feet didn’t mind a pat. He put down his harmonica and let me take this photo. I asked him if he minded if I took his photo. Much to my surprise he said yes.

I only took two photos and showed him the end result on the LCD screen. He said was pretty happy with the results and after a few more minutes of talking to him, I shook his hand, threw a few dollar coins in and left. Since I have downloaded the image and processed it I have this desire, this want to print the image in a decent size, say 12×10 and then give it to him. He won’t be able to eat or drink the photo but I think the problem I’ll have is finding him again to give him the photo.

I think it paid off walking up to him and speaking to him. What do you think?