Street Photography the Risks of Chasing Art

Street photography is not without its challenges. This is the first post in a series I’m writing about my experiences on the street with accompanying photos.

Personal safety is a biggie for me, and sometimes I put myself at risk by being too in the frame and not being aware of my surroundings. Plus, I don’t have eye’s in the back of my head, and prefer to travel alone – basically, because a companion would be very bored hanging with me and there’s no fun in that and I would feel bad. Which in turn would disrupt my focus.

In this story chasing the art got me into trouble. I ventured down a street alley which is familiar to me. Amongst the usual parked cars, it’s filled with wastage (cardboard, plastic, cans etc..) from businesses hotels, restaurants – which they seem to just throw out in large plastics or into large skip bins from their exits facing this street. They seem to sanction the street people rummaging through these large quantities of rubbish in the knowledge that they’ll be able to collect enough to exchange it for money, and tidying up the street at the same time. It’s a fascinating street, it’s a mix of a jumble yard, and a rubbish tip it has its own order and poetry. Odd objects, collectables you’d find at a secondhand store find their way to be hanging off walls like a street exhibition. I’ve included photos of these pieces that form part of what I call this street’s art.

On this day, I saw an elbow and shoulder sticking up out of a large skip bin, obviously, there was a human attached hunting through the contents. I started to line up my shot framing for the body parts poking up amongst the rubbish. I didn’t want a portrait. However, he was not alone a companion started yelling out ‘photo, photo, taking your photo” he bounced up like a jack-in-the-box and started gestating and snarling at me. For one silly second I tried to explain that I only wanted his elbow and shoulder. This didn’t go well. Immediately I was reminded of a stray dog I’d interrupted scavenging on the streets and he snarled, wrinkled his nose revealing rotten large teeth and proceeded to lunge at me. This flash back was all I needed I was leaving.

A lucky escape; hence, I’ll be giving this street a permanent rest.

Chasing art can be dangerous.

About Tahnia Roberts

Tahnia is a Kuala Lumpur based photographer, and she loves telling stories with photography. She contributes to several platforms for photography and arts, and has received acknowledgement from FWA Photo and other publications on several occasions.


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