One elderly gentleman positioned his wife in the foreground and half-knelt with thin, trembling thighs, to take a picture.  The drinkers at a table immediately behind the woman raised their glasses good-naturedly towards the camera.  But the photographer, intent on spontaneity, straightened and, with a sweeping gesture of his free hand, tried to usher them back on the path of their unselfconscious existence.

Ian McEwan – The Comfort of Strangers

In one of the calli of Cannaregio, I encountered a young woman leaning coolly against a doorway smoking.  The posture itself was good, but made more picturesque by a number of bracelets on each of her wrists.  In different circumstances I might have taken the shot there and then as a candid, but in such a narrow alley the act of raising the camera would have given me away immediately, so out of politeness I asked if I could take her picture.  She agreed readily enough, but as she did so stood up straight, and stubbed out the cigarette despite my protestations.   What’s more she then stretched both of her wrists out before her to show off the jewellery in a completely unnatural stance.  I didn’t have the heart to tell she’d just ruined everything that had prompted my request in the first place, and compliantly shot one of her wrists, but snatched the shot and lost sharpness in my frustration.

Shoot first and ask permission later I say.Venezia-7


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