Dropped Bag

If you’re a decent human being, you rush over to pick up the bag for the guy. If you’re a photographer, you rush over to get in position to take the shot.  Human suffering is just another subject for your portfolio.  In this case, I walk away realizing that the shutter speed was too slow and I blurred it.  Yes, there is that instant where doing the right thing flashes through your mind – but after many years of shooting it is just that – an instant.

On the other hand, maybe it depends on your subjects. When you show the beauty that’s around you, and bring pleasure to people – you give something back. But no, showing the difficulty people have just getting through the day – that’s worthwhile as well. It’s just one of those transitory thoughts that crosses your mind sometimes when you opt for taking the picture before trying to help. It’s not a picture you’re going to make any money from unless you’re already famous for documenting human sorrow. But when you have been doing street shooting for a long time – the instinct is always to press the shutter first and worry about ethical stuff later.


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My name is Dave Beckerman. I am a fine art photographer working in New York City.

5 thoughts on “Dropped Bag”

  1. Is that what we have become Dave, hardened “photographers” rather then decent human beings? Sure I’d probably take the photo first, but I’d also like to think I would then go over to help the individual. Shame on you Dave.

  2. Actually, he had the bag by the time I took the shot, but that’s not the point I was trying to make. Some people think that when you take their picture you are stealing their soul. Actually, after a while, you as the photographer may be losing part of your own soul. Something to be thought about.

  3. As I’ve aged I’ve been having a a harder time validating this: photographers who photograph the less fortunate then themselves merely for exploitation. This exploitation can be in the form of money, fame, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I was one of them, traveling the highlands of Mexico for weeks happily photographing the worn down, the impoverished, the peasants, the poorly dressed, and the decay. I also spent days wandering the streets of Toronto solely photographing the homeless and the derelicts. Did I help my subjects? No, I used their images to have photo shows, increase my small amount of fame and made a reasonable sum of money. I would say I started losing my soul early on as a photographer.

    Becoming a commercial photographer with a small studio has only increased the losing.

    Oh by the way; I do like the image and I do like the blur.

  4. Actually – my own case is different. Not only have I never sold an image of “the unfortunate” but if anything I’ve probably hurt sales by even including these shots in the store. I have one shot, of a guy under plastic with a briefcase – you can’t see him – that I may, if memory serves – sold once. But they’ve never been displayed in a gallery, and as I say – have probably only cost me money in the long run. But I continue to believe they are part of my life in the city – and so long as they are “more” than simply a shot of the less fortunate, i.e. – the briefcase is very mysterious to me – not to mention the setup and the woman passing by – they are fair game as are the wealthy.

    A Few Examples:

    The Briefcase
    101 Careers

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