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Photography And Voyeurism

Friends of mine who only recently discovered my Mallorca Daily Photo Blog commented on the absence of people in my daily photographic output. I appreciate that sentiment not only for its validity but, also because the insight raises some profound issues about a number of topics to do with me, with this blog and with photography as such.

For a start, I do admit to some voyeuristic tendencies. I am in awe of this world and I use photography to capture its visual splendour and to document some of its eccentricities. I have always taken lots of photographs and, since the onset of digital photography, I take even larger numbers. I guess I take some 25,000 photographs per annum, or make that 500 per week, on average. I reckon about half that amount of shots involve people.

When publishing a photo blog, and on a daily basis for close to four years by now, one has to set some criteria as to what one wants to do, and what one wishes to portray. From the moment I started on this MDPB, I decided to concentrate on Mallorca and its many-faceted character. I am not interested in a commercial pursuit of this blog and it does not interest me to look out for picture-postcard motifs. It interests me to portray the obvious side of this lovely island but, also to safeguard the less well-known aspects of life in this insular macrocosm.

When it comes to people I have learnt that most humans do not like to have their photograph taken and those that do, like to pose. I would always respect the wish of the image subject to remain dignified or anonymous and I would never offer my blog as a platform for poseurs. I guess I do not publish many photographs of people on this MDPB because I do not want to assume the function of Closed Circuit Surveillance intrusion in my daily blogging efforts. Also, there would be the small matter of legal repercussion and another one, of good taste.

I’ll give you a ‘manned’ street scene photograph today, just to prove the point. I took the photograph because the candy stall’s colours were attractive and the combination of the two North-African women in their colourful robes highlighted the play with the pastels. I feel guilty, though, for the unnoticed intrusion upon them and I want to apologise to the Muslimas for showing their posteriors without having sought their permission prior to publication. My excuse would be that I captured the scene with a sentiment of affection for humankind.

Allow me to quote Palagummi Sainath, an Indian photojournalist:

“What the heart does not feel, the eyes do not see”.

The photo was taken in Ses Salines, Mallorca, Baleares, Spain. The date: May 1st, 2011. The time was 17:17:39.

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