I am a (sensitive) artist.

March 19, 2009

Photographer Liz Kuball writes about getting reactions from people while shooting on the street. I have to admit that most of the time when I’m walking around with my camera, I usually also have headphones on which if not preventing others from talking to me, does often prevent me from hearing them. So, I don’t know if I’ve missed reactions or not, but they’ve been few. Also, this is Boston where you don’t make eye contact with people, let alone talk to them. Seriously. I’ve made many a transaction with other humans in stores or even the doctor’s office without a word being spoken. Seeing someone actually smile is about as rare as finding gold in the streets. Anyhow. 

I did have a personal encounter facilitated by the camera yesterday. I was in my doctor’s office, and after I had wordlessly passed on my forms to get bloodwork done, I sat down in the waiting room and noticed this colorful toy and got out the camera. I took a quick photo of it, and one of the phlebotomists exclaimed “Hey! That’s copyright theft! You didn’t ask me if you could take a picture of my toy!”

I didn’t respond, mostly because I was stunned. Also, I was low on blood sugar and had just spent the past two hours waiting around the neurologist’s office, so, y’know, just generally sluggish. I couldn’t tell if she was really bugged or if she was kidding around – it really can be hard to tell and people get uppity about the weirdest things. She then laughed and asked me if it was good or bad that I took a picture of the toy.

“Oh! It’s a good thing! I like the colors.”

She laughed and then asked “So, I’m not going to see this in the papers or anything, right?” As if being in the papers was automatically incriminating. Nah, not going to see it in the papers.

As I was ushered in to get my blood drawn, the Russian phlebotomist, who is one of my favorite people in the world by the virtue of being so skilled with a needle that I honest to G-d CAN NOT FEEL the prick, says to me “So, you’re a photographer, huh?”

And for the first time in my life, rather than making up some b.s. about this being a hobby or whatever, I simply said “Yeah.” 

Yeah, I guess I am. Hell, I’ve only been taking pictures since I was seven. Sure, I’ve only had gallery shows for my collage work and even then I get squirmy calling myself an “artist,” but what, exactly am I waiting for? What kind of validation does it take to go from “I take pictures” to “I’m a photographer.” Why am I so hesitant to make excuses for my art, like it’s “not that important?” Hell, this is what I do. Yes, I take pictures. I’m a photographer. 

He was cool with that and proceeded to painlessly take my blood. I went on with my day feeling a new kinship with the camera. Yes, this is who I am.


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