As a photographer, how do you remain invisible? How do you capture the emotion, the "right moment" when you have a huge lens pointing out from your face directly at someone else?
I found an article written by Coburn Dukehart which was published on NPR's website (link to article) which deals with taking photos in sensitive situations. Here's a quip from the article:
"On the night of the shootings in Newtown, Conn., a woman named Aline
Marie attended a prayer vigil at St. Rose of Lima Roman Catholic Church,
which was packed with local residents and the media. After about 45
minutes, Marie saw the statue of Mary and knelt down to pray.
"I sat there in a moment of devastation with my hands in prayer pose
asking for peace and healing in the hearts of men," she recalls. "I was
having such a strong moment and my heart was open, and I started to
Her mood changed abruptly, she says, when "all of a sudden I hear
'clickclickclickclickclick' all over the place. And there are people in
the bushes, all around me, and they are photographing me, and now I'm
pissed. I felt like a zoo animal."
What the photojournalists didn't do was to take the time to talk to Marie and ask for her permission. They were afraid of ruining the moment and their shot. Something I've learned from Nahlah Ayed's book A Thousand Farewells is that you have to choose your subjects tastefully and make sure they understand that you want to show what they're going through.
As a photographer your subject needs to know that you have a mutual understanding. It's a fine line of ruining a moment and being considerate.