I'm heading down to San Francisco to lead a street photography workshop this week. I love exploring the city and discovering new things to capture in my lens. This week, I'll have eight of my best friends with me.
I know some photographers don't like to travel in groups, no matter how small. Yes, it attracts attention, but there are some benefits compared to the alternative.
When I work by myself (which I also enjoy), I seem to create more anxiety in the environment than when I have a group with me. I can almost hear...
"What is he doing?"
"I'm not sure, but I think he's taking pictures."
"Could be anything. He seems to like that staircase."
"Do you think he's a terrorist?"
"Well, I don't know. Why do you wonder?"
"I think he's really scoping out that building for an attack."
"Really? You think he's going to bomb that staircase?"
"Maybe. He looks suspicious to me."
When I start to feel those stares, I move on. The joy of the shot has most likely passed, and I'm better off finding another subject.
But with a group, the dynamic is completely different. Clearly we're just a bunch of tourists. Because, after all, terrorists never travel in Bermuda-clad packs.
That's why I'm OK with being a tourist, even when I'm not. We might be seen as mildly annoying, but nothing more than that.
Which allows us to go about our business of taking pictures,
and not blowing up staircases.