Every so often I stroll Downtown Detroit for a solo photography walk, I don't know exactly what I'm looking for, but I find something that stands out to me each time, despite taking the same route. On this particular day, I decided to head to Campus Martius, not because I was motivated, but simply because I wanted to sit down and take a breather. Upon my arrival, I noticed the fountain, I've seen this fountain multiple times but I've been reading about long exposure photography and thought what better time to put what I learned into action.
Unfortunately, in my frame was a man sitting in the chair, initially, I was annoyed, but later realized he may actually add some depth to the photo. After a few failed attempts of long exposure shots, I decided to make him my focus. I've always enjoyed underexposed, detailed portraits in other photographers work, so I wanted to attempt something similar... Except I was too afraid to invade his privacy. He sat there playing with what looked like Tarot Cards, and from a distance, I shot away. I got a few decent frames in, but he kept nodding off, slowly falling in and out of consciousness. Not a big deal, an even better story to tell I thought... Until he fell out of his chair, face first to the ground!
I didn't know what to do, I mentally panicked. After a few seconds, servers from the Fountain Bistro ran out and asked me what happened, I explained that he just fell over. We sat him on his back and called 911, their advice was to feed him sugar and wait for the ambulance to come... luckily he was right next to a restaurant. After doing all we could I decided I would wait with the gentlemen. A few moments he began to have a seizure...
The photographer in me wanted to snap these pics, and document this story, not for likes, or to be a troll, but strictly to capture the moment, a moment I too was a part of. Many people walked passed, several of them captured photos with their cellular devices, while only a few asked what happened and how they could help... One person even thought we were filming a movie because of the camera and equipment I had with me.
After a few minutes I decided to take the picture, I took several of them, I didn't get close and personal, but I was still able to capture the moment. When the ambulance I arrived I directed them to the body, and even photographed them arriving at the scene. The photographic series only ended up being 3 pictures, and it really doesn't tell a story without the above information, so in essence I truly didn't do a great job capturing the moment, but it got me thinking; Are these pictures okay to post? Were my decisions inhumane? And most importantly did I go to far as a photographer? Or did I fail as one and not get the proper shots I had the opportunity to take initially?
I posted the question to reddit, along with the pictures and received some rather interesting responses, however, the conversation between the subreddit self.streetphotography ended early due to self removal of the pictures (they have now been reposted).
Here are some of the responses from the post;
Now to spare you all further reading I won't go into deep detail on the photo above, but for those of you who are ill-informed, I was able to find an older post on PetaPixel that gives you a little background story here. I wanted to know what side of the argument are you all on, and furthermore what's the real debate at hand. Are people upset because we are busy photographing vs helping? Or is the public upset that we are invading other privacy without consent? I see now that my pictures aren't on the same scale as the Doomed pic, or as controversial as the photojournalist mentioned on PetaPixels blog post, but the topic will always interest me, both as a photographer and a citizen.