The Ugly Side Of Street Photography

Street Photography

Trying Street Photography:

Historically I’ve always been someone who’s taken pictures of landscapes rather than anything like Street Photography.

Pictures of trees.


That sort of stuff.

But people interest me a lot too and I’ve wanted to do more street photography.

I’m not a fan of posed stuff, I prefer trying to capture the vibe of a place, of people, just something authentic.

Twenty minutes into taking some photos around Brixton someone goes crazy on me and threatenings to break my camera.

Ah yes, this is why I prefer nature over street photography.

What Happened?

So the picture was of the area where his outdoor art store was. It wasn’t off him, or even his store, it was just the little area. It looked interesting.

As I was walking away he called me over. I’m a little naive and like to think the best of everyone so I went over to met him.

He’s instantly aggressive.

Asking me why I took a picture of him. I told him I was just taking a picture of the area.

That I like Brixton, it has a cool vibe about it, and that I just wanted to capture some of that with my camera. In my mind this is what street photography is and I don’t see that as a bad thing.

He isn’t listening, or doesn’t care. He keeps asking why I took a picture of him.

So I show him the picture, he’s barely in it, somewhere in the background.

Not good enough, he wants it deleted…

… So I deleted it. Should be problem solved.

Was annoying as I thought it was a good picture and I was already working out in my head what I would do with it in editing, but that’s no longer happening.

This wasn’t the end however.

Now he wants to know for sure it’s deleted. (Which it was)

I press the left button on the camera to show him the photos I’ve taken and to show him there’s no more of him.

He’s not having it. Keeps telling me to click down. The camera doesn’t go down, it goes left to right.

He doesn’t care.

The Threat:

So he asks for the camera.

Threatens to break it… and me.

No fucking chance. That camera is my life. (Well it’s not, it’s my second camera, but I still am not handing it over to an enraged stranger).

I go through the pictures with him again. And again. My hearts beating fast.

I’m getting annoyed myself by this point but he’s getting angrier as well and me being angry won’t solve anything, I know that.

So finally he’s getting it but…

… Still asks why I took a picture of him. Over and over.

Like me liking the area and wanting to capture it with my camera is insane.

Is certain that I took a picture of his face for some other reason.

No idea what. Don’t want to speculate.

I try to be respectful when I take photos, I wasn’t in his face or anyone else’s, never am. Everyone takes photos all the time but it seems there’s still a difference between using a phone and using a DSLR.

He tells me he doesn’t like people taking pictures of his face.

Cool, no problems, it’s deleted.

No harm done. Etc etc.

Finally Starts To Get It:

And like that he starts to ease off.

Shakes my hand like we’ve sorted something.

What, I don’t know, but my camera is still in one piece so I’m happy with the outcome.

He then starts to tell me he hasn’t a problem with pictures.

That he posted a selfie on Instagram 10 minutes ago. That’s really no help to me.

Who did he think I was?

What did he think I was?

All in all it wasn’t a great experience and I stopped taking photos at that point and sat down to write instead. My short career in street photography possibly over before it started.

This is why I prefer writing, it’s just me.

But I don’t want to think like that. I like people, I love using my camera. Street Photography Is something I’d love to stick with.

This really was a shit experience though.

Was I at fault?

Am I naive thinking that what I took was ok?

Was just a picture and he just happened to be somewhere in the background.

I get it if he thought I was trying to steal his soul, but he wasn’t thinking like that. The picture wasn’t even off him. It was the street around him. The place. The vibe.

I don’t know. It sucked and I felt very intimidated. Felt sure he was going to break the camera, or me. All I wanted was to show my love of the area.

And from this one individual what I  got back was hate and anger. I hope it wasn’t personal. That he was fighting something bigger.

Whatever it was, I’m not the enemy.

I just enjoy photography.

So thanks for ruining that for me.



(The Feature photo was taken on the same day in a different place before the incident)


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