Liam McHenry, a street photographer from Australia (and one of my private online street photography students), put together this insightful video about an encounter he had with a teenage boy shooting in a suburb. To sum up the video, Liam shot a boy who got really upset about Liam taking the shot. The boy started cursing at Liam, and wouldn’t calm down. After chatting with the boy, the boy realized how special he was in being the subject of Liam’s viewfinder.

Words can’t explain how inspirational this video is– watch it now!

What are your experiences shooting kids in public? Share your thoughts below and any thoughts about this video by Liam as well!

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15 Comments

  1. WOW.. really inspirational! Went through his site.. He is a great story teller- in the video as well as through his photos… thats for sharing Liam and Eric!

    I love shooting children in the streets of Vellore. One thing I must say is that it is pretty diffficult to catch kids candid on camera, especially in India… Most kids flock to the camera the moment they see one and start posing :). It kind of irritates me sometimes, but as a photographer, I mostly put up with it and delete those shots later.
    Sometimes, if they pester me too much, i shake my head and walk away…

    Anyone had any other experiences?

    If you want to see my work, come over to http://www.georgiemathew.wordpress.com and if you liek children especially , do search for “kids” or “children in the street” in my blogs’ search tab… Glad to hear your suggestions !

  2. Good for you Liam. Of course a young boy is probably easier to talk to, you weren’t really threatened because of his size alone but the fact that you took time out to show him what you do rather than steal his face and move on claiming ‘it is your right’ really says a lot about you as a photographer but is also a reflection on street photographers in general. We don’t have to be bullies sniping faces. We are out there photographing because what we see is beautiful or unique, special in some way. Why wouldn’t we be pleased or proud of what we do and want to share the beauty we capture with others. That is what we do isn’t it? The whole it’s my right thing has always seemed wrong to me. It’s more like ‘it’s my privilege’ or ‘my honor’ and we shouldn’t so defensive and uncaring. I like that you talk to people, like the man on his smoking break in the hospital. To me that is gutsier photography than running up with a camera and running away after the click. And it means a lot more too.

  3. Thanks everyone for the encouragement and feedback I’ve gotten in various places – G+, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr. I really appreciate it. I’m also getting to know new friends and seeing some great work from people.

    It looks like I should do a follow up called -” it’s never just a video blog!” lol

  4. Good testimony for us photographers to keep in mind whenever and wherever we act with the camera. It is good I think to experience this kind of encounters and live them to the fullest extent because it does give us a chance to explain and to the people and to ourselves why we are out on the streets doing what we do, not just being machines and be cut out of that environment that we need, use and strive to be a part of by taking photo bits of .y . You might even plant a photographic seed in his head by now and maybe someday you’ll cross path again, cameras in hand. Who knows?
    Cheers and happy shooting.

  5. Liam is a real warrior. Some people in western cultures believe you are stealing their proivacy when you photograph them. Moslen people, many of them, believe you are stealing their souls. Liam is a real warrior to do what he does to let us know how the world works.

  6. So glad you took the time to make this video statement. Photographers, in my opinion, have a responsibility to treat people in a way that values who they are as individuals. Your encounter show just how important it is to do that. Good job mate.

  7. Awesome & inspirational. Liam, I would be proud to call you “friend”. You put into words what is in my head – but I could never say so well.

    Eric: I will be posting a followup comment with some pics I took of a couple of boys of a similar age. My experience was the opposite of Liam’s. But he does remind us all that people don’t all live the same existence as ourselves and that a photo taken can be misconstrued due to circumstances beyond our knowledge.

    PS: I need to get some business cards!

    1. My Experience: I had actually just finished a rather lengthy walkabout and was heaidng back to my car when I spotted a couple of teenagers skateboarding along the road. Photo opp. I snapped a few shots not knowing what the outcome would be. As you will see from the first shot, the one lad was quite suspicious. He and his friend stopped immediately after the pic was taken, and came to talk to me. I explained that I was Street Photographer (of sorts) and that I attempted to capture everyday life through the lens. They apparently liked the idea that I took the time to shoot them and asked for me to email them copies of my photos. The second photo shows a change of heart from my first image.

    2. Thanks for this. The big thing I missed explaining is that my area is a marginalized area. The people are in public housing, socially/financially/educationally/socially disadvantaged. Many of them multi generational on going problems. The area is identified as a high need area by our government.

      And this place my family and I have made our home. The reason, which I won’t spend a lot of time on is that Iam also a pastor. I am planting a church, hoping to provide love and hope to these people.

      So I don’t expect that this boys experience is typical for everyone. It is however, very typical given his life experience. And that made his turn around that much more dramatic for me to witness! These kids fight first and refuse to show emotions or weakness, yet as a photographer, I was given the unique opportunity to cut through that.

      1. Liam: I hope you realize and appreciate the gift that you have been given. I appreciate it. Keep shooting.

  8. I found this weird. If I had a 14 year old son, I’d want him to be antagonistic towards strange men taking photos of him without his permission and against his will. Of course, he didn’t need to swear, but then he’s only young. In fact his strong reaction would have been the point to stop, delete the shots and apologise.

    That the guy with the camera then starts going into how he only photographs great and beautiful things seems creepy, as does telling him he has his number and can call him whenever he has a problem. Finding him to give him a print he didn’t ask for seems like a nice idea, but is bizarre. It’s events like this that make people and parents wary of potential paedophilia. I’m not suggesting this chap had any naughty interest in the child; just that he’s pretty weird.

    As photographers, it’s easy to be inconsiderate. Those photos aren’t telling a necessary story nor are they likely to win a Pulitzer prize. If a child is upset enough to start swearing about his photo being taken, then usually that photo is worth sacrificing for his peace of mind. I’d want my son to be wary of any stranger who repeatedly takes his photo, gives him his number then tells him to call him if he has any problems.

    http://www.onesmonocle.blogspot.com

    1. Hi Bob,

      I’ve been to and fro about whether or not to reply to this. I think you are taking the small focus of some parts and assuming that the whole situation could be explained in a short video.

      I think the big thing you failed to note is the kid’s response at the end of it all – the barrier was broken down and instead of a fight, he made a friend. Also, remember, I gave him my card to give to his dad. And, I did offer to delete the shots before he came back for round 2. And as for the print – I told him I would get it done for him and get it to him as we chatted – so that’s why it’s important to get it done.

      I appreciate your view but I think it is tainted – your whole description appears directed towards it being a weird and creepy scenario. when truthfully, all it was, was me (with my wife and 2 infant children) encountering 3 kids on the street. The situation could have gone bad, but instead of dismissing these kids as obnoxious welfare scumbags with deadbeat parents and a one way ticket to prison in their future, I chose to interact with them as human beings and showed them value. We live in the worst suburb in our region for drugs, crime, domestic violence, disadvantaged youth and suicide rates and I chose to live here for the reasons outlined in this video – to try and show these people that they matter.

      Had I been in a middle class, Joe Average, stable marriage, 2.3 children with a mortgage type suburb, I would have handled the situation very differently.

      Find the worst neighborhood within 100 miles of your home and go walk around it sometime, try and talk to anyone and find out the anger and hate they have at the world….then come back and tell me what I did was so weird.

      And if we all waited to take photos that tell a neccessary story or win a Pulitzer prize, well, there wouldn’t be much photography happening, would there? I mean – “Colour in Photography – a study in Red” isn’t much closer to a Pulitzer, is it? :)

      Thanks for the views and feedback though. I appreciate the time in commenting. thank you.

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