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Hurricane • Posted: Jun 10, 2012 12:31:53Comments WelcomeVote CoolPhotoblogsPurchase a PrintShare

"Senorita, are you lost?"

The woman spoken to was in her 50's, clearly a U.S. citizen. Her short cropped hair was gray, her long-sleeved blouse white, her slacks beige. She had a bag hanging from her shoulder and a black camera in her hands. The officer had interrupted while she was trying to fame a picture of an old building.

Calm, not startled, though perhaps annoyed, she glanced toward him. "No, I'm not."

"But this is no place for a woman out on her own."

Her eyes went back to the screen on the back of her camera. She held her breath and squeezed. "No? Well, it wouldn't be the first time I've been told something like that." She then turned fully and smiled, lowering the camera and putting her hand up to shield her eyes from glare.

"Senorita, it is my duty to inform you that you are tempting fate. This area is industrial, not well populated, and a woman walking alone here draws attention and prompts one to worry for her welfare."

"That is very chivalrous of you. You must know this area better than I, but to me it looks quiet, peaceful, and hot. Too hot, I think, for anyone to be out and about. It makes me suspect I'd be quite safe here, with everyone else hiding in the shade."

The officer smiled. She was not a simple-minded woman. And, her surmises were not wrong.

"Senorita, how long will you be?"

She looked around her. The sun was edging lower. The scent of ocean was in the air. A light breeze was beginning to pick up speed, lifting dust into the air. The sky above was blue and bright, but menacing dark clouds hugged the far eastern horizon over roiled waters.

"Not long, I think. But I'd dread leaving now. The light is magical, the air is pregnant with tension, the buildings rich in stories. I want to watch some of the changes, capture some of the majesty, absorb some of the mystery. 40 minutes, perhaps? Then I'll leave. You won't have to worry about me anymore."

"You have a cell phone?"

"Why, yes," she said, looking quizzically toward him.

"I strongly suggest you stay out in the open. I'll check back on you. Do not hesitate to call 911. There are two of us in the area."

"Thank you," she said.

Not even raising her camera, she snapped a quick picture of him as he bid her cautious farewell with a respectful salute.

She then turned away too, eager to resume her solitary soulful communion with both nature and fate.

Photographers enjoy a curious status within most societies. Depending on the decorum exercised by the photographer they are often well tolerated, enjoying the kind of grace a witnessing angel from heaven might enjoy. But there are other times when their prying, recording, witnessing eyes are not welcomed, no matter how humble and respectful their manners. Some of that hostility has been brought on by photographers themselves for their exploitive misuse of images. But, certainly others are nefariously wary of having their presence and actions recorded for scrutiny. Numerous well-intentioned photojournalists have been murdered in recent years for just those reasons.

May you never shy from using your camera for the preservation of history and the achievement of social justice, but may all your photographic excursions be as well tolerated and respected as the one described above.

Safe and judicious shooting to all.

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008