Girl, Irritated

I romped around the city with my good pal L yesterday, just returned from adventures in Nicaragua. She was planning on driving up to Fort Bragg this morning, but was willing to let me drag her around to eat gelato at Naia and visit Puff’s work. At the end of our afternoon together, I was tired and a little stinky, but more or less satisfied. I waited in the tunnels of the Metro for awhile while MUNI figured its scene out, and finally popped up at Embarcadero into the growingly cold and cloudy afternoon.

When I checked my phone, it looked like the bus would already have left, so I ambled to the TransBay rather than bolting willy nilly through the crowds.

As I hit the bottom of lane three, I noticed two things, more or less simultaneously:

1. The bus was still there, loading up, which meant that I could be on it if I ran.

2. There was a woman with a camera at the bottom of the staircase.

Now, I’m all for photography. I think that photography is awesome, although photographing the TransBay is a little odd. But something about this woman made me suspect that she was planning on photographing me, and that made me uncomfortable. You see, she obviously had no intention of asking me for permission, and I had no idea where the photo might end up, or what she would do with it.

And this bothers me.

It’s one thing when I’m riding the cable car, eating a doughnut, basking in life, and I end up in some tourist’s photo. I’m on a major tourist attraction, doing my thing. I also don’t mind being caught in sweeping cityscape shots, because, hey, it happens. I wouldn’t ask for permission from everyone in the area before snapping a picture. But I would ask before photographing a specific person, unless he or she was participating in a public event, such as a parade. I don’t care if that person is in a public place or not. It just seems…reasonable to respect that some people like going out in public, but do not like being photographed. I have always respected requests not to be photographed, although I am sorry to say that not everyone has done the same for me.

It just bothers me.

I can’t put my finger on why I like to be photographed…I just don’t. I don’t photograph well, but that’s because of my dislike and awkwardness of being on the other side of the lens. I’m not sure that I’m superstitious enough to believe that being photographed takes away my soul, but I don’t like having random pieces of myself scattered around. I especially do not like the thought of being the subject of a photograph and not being able to control its distribution. I am, bluntly, not ok with it.

So I was caught in the horns of a dilemma. I could go up the other stairway, and probably miss the bus. Or I could go up lane three.

“Hey,” I said, “please don’t photograph me,” and then I started bolting up the stairs. As I ran, I heard the characteristic snap of a shutter…so I did the only thing I could do, a small token act of a rebellion, and raised the middle finger of one hand as I thrust it behind me.

Why would someone choose to be so disrespectful? I’ll keep my eye on Flickr for awhile to see if the photo pops up, and if a story accompanies it. I don’t really see the point in being callous and rude like that, and I hope that no one does it to her, because it leaves you with a bitter and angry feeling in your mouth.

Being photographed against your will may not be rape, but it’s still violating.

[photography]