A few days ago I did a vox-pop, a number of short interviews, in the centre of Ciudad Delgado, a town some 20 minutes from San Salvador. When I do those things, I approach people on an almost arbitrary basis and ask them if they have a couple of minutes for a short interview and a couple of pics.
The job was done, the light of the day was almost gone, and I was just taking some general pictures, of the atmosphere, of people.
Then I approached this little group of people, took a couple of shots, first not even really realizing that the person in the centre was in an intimate situation. Usually I don´t do these things, that is, getting close to people taking pictures without either having asked for permission, or established a contact with them. Or, usually, both. But I was fast on the photo-trigger this late afternoon, and it happened.
When I got home and checked the photos, I could see that the woman was looking at me, straight in the eyes, only in the first picture. In the following ones, she had her attention on her baby and the people around her.
I was kind of relieved. She had taken my intrusion into her privacy easily. She had accepted my extremely clumsy, if not to say rude, behaviour.
And when taking pictures of people you are always in that dilemma. Usually it is solved with contact, communication and permission, tacit or not. In other situations, like crowds or meetings, close-ups are solved with a good lens – which I dont´t have. The third situation is a very good shot, you see it, you want to catch it, but there is no way of doing it without possible intrusion.
In this case it was the third case. But I could sleep that night. The direct contact she hade with me in the first picture followed by her subsequently ignoring me showed that, I decided to conclude.
But it could also not have been the case. And many photographers, professionals or amateur, you and me, break the frontiers for personal integrity far too much.