Looking back on Bissau is a little bit tough for me. It was one of those places that I just don’t feel like I got anything out of. Sure, part of the problem was that I found myself in the grips of malaria, but it was also that there just isn’t a lot to do in town. For a capital city, Bissau is a quiet city that somehow feels more like a small town than anything. And the truth is that the one thing I’ll remember about the city is the rain. It seemed to rain about 80% of the time; perhaps not surprisingly since it was the heart of the rainy season. Shooting photography was already enough of a challenge in Guinea-Bissau since the people are just so camera shy, but the rains almost made it impossible. Luckily, on one day I used the rain to my advantage and shot some stills of people scampering through the rains. This was the one image that I really liked from that bit of a shoot.
How I Got the Shot
Photographing people is always a bit of a tricky situation. I generally follow the rule that if I’m taking a portrait of someone that I ask for their permission. I also ask, or tip the camera for approval if I can see that some potential subjects are in one of my shots. However, in trying to capture a raw image like this, there would have been no way for me to ask permission. Am I supposed to yell out at him and ask if I can shoot? Moreover, I feel like this is more of a scene than a portrait. Thus, I didn’t ask. Luckily for me I have a long lens and I can take images like this a little without too much of a problem. I took this image at a focal length of 120mm. If I just had a wide angle lens I would have had to be so close to the subject that it would have made the subject feel like, well, a subject. At the end of the day, as long as you don’t act like the world is a zoo and the people within it are animals put there for your viewing pleasure I think you’ve probably met the ethical standards necessary to sleep comfortably at night.