where the writers are
The Right to Photograph

Photography is another lens through which I see and interpret the world.  I am grateful for photographers who captured what they consider the essence of a certain time period, so that I have the pleasure of seeing what they saw and imaging that time, that era, and that place where I did not live and could not, but can still be connected in some way to the people and the culture.



Whenever I travel I am never without my camera, and always the goal is to capture, not just what is known or famous, but mostly to capture the everyday ordinariness of life. I love observing people and their gestures.  I am a true voyeur as both a writer and photographer, and it only takes a second for my mind to be off imagining and writing stories about the people and situations I witness in the streets.


In many cultures people object to their image being captured for a variety if reasons. Some think it is soul-stealing, and to a certain extent it is – to capture and freeze the image of a person is to steal a piece of their soul in that moment; others are tired of being exploited and want to be compensated; and still others just do not understand the need and object. 


I like to take people’s images when they are unaware. The truest image of a person is when they are captured unaware, and this was my challenge in Morocco, especially Marrakech, where most people objected vehemently to being photographed or wanted a small compensation. This place is so rich and overwhelming, almost everything was demanding to be photographed.  I had a tour to the back roads of the metal and leather workshops.  What an amazing wealthy of poverty, creativity, child-labor, unhealthy and unsafe working conditions, richness, productivity and so much more.  I could spend months recording the details of what goes on here, but sadly, I did not even get to take even a few good images.


Still throughout this trip I did cheat (not great shots) while sitting in cafes, on roof tops, or driving in a hired car – although was chased by man and his veiled wife on bike who were angry that I had photographed them and he and my driver went back and forth loudly for a few minutes. I was scared not knowing what they were saying, feeling the heat of their anger, and insisting no photograph of them.  But it was an amazing shot, that I love and which I believe captures an important slice of history.


But what about public domain?  Do photographers have the right to capture for their art and work the images of people in the public and use as they please?  It is an old question and one that will not die.  Am I an less offensive that the paparazzi for celebrities? Regardless of the debate I value the people and their culture and love the images I capture, even this very general one.