I loved this quote from a post on photography in third world countries:
The goal is to not draw attention to yourself. Think like a photojournalist. Unwanted attention prevents good photo opportunities(and can be annoying). On short trips, it can be tough to become an instant local. Beyond the obvious like your choice of clothing , subconscious behavioural clues beyond your control will give you away. It’s a matter of convincing yourself that you belong. If you can visualize yourself as belonging there, you’ll spend less time worrying about how you don’t fit in. You’ll notice more around you, and others will notice you less. This leads to great photo opportunities. Do all you can to minimize the attention you draw. Walk like a local. Try to talk like a local. Dress like a local. Be a local. It is at least partially a state of mind.
I couldn’t agree more, not just as a photographer but also as a traveller – one of the big downsides of traveling too quickly is that you never get the feel for a country – try to take the time to let the place sink in.
One of my favorite photos I took in India.
I’m currently reading the excellent Killing Rage by Eamon Collins based on a recommendation from Chris Blattman’s blog. Having became interested in Politics and the wider world around the time of the Good Friday Agreement, being a big fan of Irish literature and culture, and having stayed close to the Irish border during marching season I have always been very interested in the conflict, its origins, and possible solutions. Collins is a former IRA Intelligence agent turned informer and was murdered after the book was published. While Blattman was particularly struck by the insight of why young people turn to violence I am more struck by reading of the banality and acceptance of violence in places I have since visited and fallen in love with. One frequent locale is Rostrevor, a small village by Carlingford Lough (the border runs through the lake) where I stayed for a week taking a language course, one of the most peaceful places I have ever seen which was previously the scene of much smuggling in violence. The bank where my host father worked had been bombed several times and he had been held up during a bank robbery and everyone talked about these events with an acceptance and calm that was difficult to fathom. The contrast between the serene hill paths and parks and music and laughter and the darker sides of all of it is difficult to accept.