Recently, I drove back home to the Midwest by way of Crater Lake, Reno, Lake Tahoe, and Salt Lake City! It was an awesome drive, only bested by my fantastic little travel companion! I arrived to the Mormon Tabernacle fairly early and found a decent place to park, unbeknownst to me. My little travel companion (my little doggie in my profile picture) is too cantankerous around other unknown entities, so I left her in the car to save the human race from her precise judgementalism. I walked around the Tabernacle adorned with two sets of heavy duty fences, to find suitable angles for some stunning captures of the architecture and historical statues erected everywhere. Sadly, I noticed other likeminded photogs readying their cameras; pro, pro-am, and varying arrays of mobile devices. All would have been kosher, in my determination of the circumstances, if the people gathering photographic memories of the compound, were paying attention to their surroundings and respecting the people who belonged to the religious organization who were there for an event. I watched the chaos ensue with sloppily dressed photogs meshing with the ‘Sunday’s Best’ attire crowd, awaiting to gain entry to their religious event. Some of the passerby’s were just admiring the locale, others were congregating for Tabernacle Photobombs in some of the oddest places, such as a public restroom within the gated community, Granted, some of the Mormons there, may have possibly conducted a ‘Mecca-like’ pilgrimage to SLC, and so they took advantage of the enormity of the structures by feigning happiness for their selfie’s to prove to the world that they, in fact, arrived at the greatest place known to man (in their estimation).
What I derived as a possible problem, was the fact that so many of the passerby’s feel a sense of guilt by ‘traipsing’ into another persons photo-shoot, that they prevent themselves, along with those behind them, from proceeding forward. Creating a traffic jam, of sorts. Patience is truly challenged when one is in a heavily populated area and then decides that that IS the best place to conduct a micro-photo-shoot. People HAVE to mill about unfettered, people WILL mill about unfettered, people MUST mill about unfettered! Photo-shoots, in the wild, are purely about chance. think of coming across a bear in the wild, just you and the bear, locking eyes. You yank out your camera and take advantage of the situation, whilst keeping a safe distance so as not to disturb the bear, quite reasonably, but if you are one of those turdwhiskers that feels that it is your civic duty to go right up to the bear and demand it be on its best behavior while you get some amazing close-ups, then you deserve to win a runner-up Darwin award. The likelihood of you adding said bear in the wild, to your Facebook page, is quite ludicrously implausible. People, even like myself, should view ALL sacred lands, territories, and cultures with compassion, empathy, and respect. We are all learning, but to intrude upon a culture and expect them all to be on their best behavior, because they are a religious organization, is about as foolish as adding the bear in the wild to your Facebook page.
Rules of Engagement
As with all things, be cognizant of your surroundings. Yield to business within that culture, especially if you are there for pleasure. Don’t bring your sense of entitlement to an area you haven’t even built up any rapport. Reciprocate the invitation and curiosity that may be bestowed upon you while ‘in the wild.’ Avoid ridiculing that which you know nothing about, especially within earshot of the party you are ridiculing. If a large group of people appear as though they are traveling through the area of which you are shooting, point your lens downward, so they don’t have to feel guilty for inconveniencing YOU. Always expect a request of some innocent passerbys not wishing to be photographed. Be grateful and gracious you have the opportunity to snap some photos. Be patient, if you are trying to get shots without frenetic human activity, in other words, architecture shots without people in them. Photography is about chance and patience and being creative enough to find a different solution to get the shot you would like. I would presume there are a crapton (yes, that is a scientific word regarding an accurate accounting of any objects, entities, or items) more rules, social mores, and social expectations, but this should get you onto the right track to not be an offensive artist (if not only in your own mind).
Safe, somber, and sober shooting – look, ma, alliteration with no hands…..