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Photographing People

Tracey Campbell - August 2, 2013

When somebody goes on holiday to Africa, no doubt they will come home with a thousand and one pictures of the wildlife they were fortunate enough to see on their safari adventure (take a look at our recent photo competition entries to see some of the latest pictures we have been sent by happy guests). Thank goodness for digital cameras – I remember the first time we went on safari, armed with our trusty Canon SLR and about 30 rolls of film.  It cost us a small fortune to process the pictures when we got home, and I would say at least 80% of the shots were not great – out of focus and blurred, or a lovely shot of the grass, or just showing the tail of the animal as we were just not quick enough with clicking the camera button to capture the moment.  At least now, even on the game vehicle, you can review the shot you have just taken, and if it is not good enough, as long as the ‘subject’ is still posing for you, you can try again!  ~And oh the joy of being able to delete those embarrassing pictures (especially the ones where you get all excited because you think you have spotted an elephant, only to realise you have actually just taken a picture of a solid lump of grey rock in the distance).

But a trip to Africa is not just about the wildlife, it is also about the places and people.

Taking photos of people, however, can be a sensitive issue.  If you are at an ‘organised’ event, such as an evening of Masai dancing, or a visit to a Masai village, then by all means take as many photos as you can and want to – it is all part of the ‘deal’  that you as the visiting tourist have already paid for in the tour/entrance fee.  However, if you are wandering by yourself through a busy street market in Lamu, for example, where normal folk are going about their normal everyday business and shopping for their weekly food, we would always urge people to respect their privacy.  After all, would you be happy if a Japanese tourist followed you around Tesco’s when you are there doing your weekly shop, and blatently takes a photo of you at the check out counter?

Whilst it is of course possible to sneakily take a few covert shots of a street scene (without making it too blatently obvious that is what you are doing), if you do want to take a specific photo of someone close up, please do ask their permission first.  Some people also believe that if you take their photo, you are ‘taking away their soul’ – so snapping someones photo and subsequent soul could cause a bit  of a problem!  If they say no, then you will just have to respect their wishes and walk away.  Be prepared also that if they say yes, however, you may be asked to offer a bit of money to your photographic subject – children in particular are not shy to ask for this!

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