You are suspicious these days, just for having a camera and pointing it at anything other than a person you know who has been told to pose in front of a landmark. Certainly, taking a picture of girls chasing each other around had to be done carefully, as I was under the watchful eye of several teachers and parents. By carefully, I mean that this shot was done with my back to the various guardians.
But anything these days is fair game for suspicious looks. A few days ago, I was crossing a street and noticed an interesting arrangement of lights on the back of an oil truck which was parked on the corner. I didn't stop to analyze what was interesting - maybe just the colors, maybe the texture of the glass which enclosed the brake light; who the hell knows. But I did stoop to conquer - and took one shot. When I straightened up, there was a large guy giving me the eye. And when I say, giving me the eye, it was a non-blinking, steady stare.
And he didn't move to cross the street until I did. And while we were crossing, I turned and saw that he was still staring at me. I suppose I might have said: I don't know exactly why I took that shot. Could you give me your name and address and when I figure it out, I'll send you an explanation.
But I didn't. I just continued on my oh so merry way to get groceries at the market.
So we photographers, unless we're doing a studio shoot, or working with fashion models, are all potential perverts, potential terrorists, or possible psychos. It wasn't that way when I was growing up. And it wasn't that way when I was in Europe - though it might be different there now. I don't know. So if you want to take it easy and not draw any suspicious looks, stick to good old nature. Flowers. Trees. Dogs running around are fine. Although you can't be certain about that since I might be a dognapper.
But if you take a picture of a flower, or a tree, make sure that there is nothing in the foreground or the background that might draw attention to yourself.
The other day, I was taking a picture of the top of a tree on 80th street - and a guy washing the sidewalk asked me what I was doing taking pictures of that building. I told him, I wasn't taking pictures of the building (which was in the background) but of the tree.
And then he looked at the tree - the leaves were briliant red, and we got into a discussion about how he had been watching that tree change color and how this was the best day - absolutely the best day - to take the picture and to let him know how it turned out because he loved that tree.