Matt Kauffman in Jordan

To Photo or Not to Photo?

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I love to take photos. And while I’m a total dilettante in the field, I’d like to think I’m fairly good at it too. But constantly trying to find a balance between seeing Amman from behind the lens and can be tiring. I think something is missed from an experience while trying to recorded it. You spend so much time constantly focusing, spinning knobs, adjusting the aperture or shutter speed, composing a shot, that you miss the chance to organically absorb and process the scene playing out in front of you.

That’s not even to mention the ethical issue. You can only shoot so many landscapes before you need to get a human face or two in the lense, but snapping photos of strangers and intimate moments has always made me uncomfortable.

Yesterday afternoon, Sam and I took a walk down the street from our blogging/journaling/reporting base at SIT to take some photos of the gorgeous view of Amman.


جميلة Jamila (Beautiful)

On our way back, we ran into an elderly man pulling weeds in the intense Jordanian heat. Dressed in dirty, tattered pants and a fraying shirt, he looked quite out of place in this bourgeois part of town. We crouched down in from of him, but he didn’t seem to notice.

“Bakhud sura?” we asked. I take picture?

He looked up with milky eyes and mumbled some words that were beyond the four hours of Arabic lessons we’d had. So I snapped a few photos and I think they turned out well:

I’m still uncomfortable about it though. Should I have given him a few dinar for not slapping the camera away from him? Were my actions okay? What was the right thing to do in this situation?

This was just one forlorn-looking man on the side of the road. I can’t imagine what questions must go through the mind of war photographers.


Written by kauffmant

17/05/2012 at 11:03 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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