“Don’t think…just run for your life.”

Moving to a new country has been a unique experience. At first everything was different—good different. There were new places to see, new things to do, new foods to eat…the list of ‘new’ was endless.

So, one day I decided to venture out with my camera to capture the world I saw. I had the eyes of a toddler—full of wonder. I started by photographing bridges, buildings, lakes, but what caught my attention were faces. Faces that I had seen before in my country, but they were now wrapped in different color.

As a foreigner, I felt timid pointing my lens at strangers in a strange land. So, I stuck to crowded city roads and caught my subjects when they weren’t looking. As I clicked away, my fear began to dissipate and I grew more confident.

Then, I saw an old man—his face sculpted with wrinkles, his eyes lost in contemplation, his body scrawny yet strong. I wanted to photograph him up close but I was scared to ask permission. It just so happened that he was standing in front of a mural. All I had to do was pretend that I was capturing the graffiti than him. A friend had given me tips on avoiding similar pitfalls of street photography.

“What if someone got real mad if I took a photo without permission?” I’d inquired.

“In that case,” my friend said in a serious voice, “Don’t think. Pick up your camera and just run for your life!”

Now, that I had photographed people on streets all day, I found his advice cowardly. I was happy with my results and happier that this man’s portrait was going to be the high point of my excursion. Little did I know that a woman standing right behind had seen me capture a dozen shots of my unsuspecting subject. Without batting an eyelid, she walked up to him and snitched.

“This girl has been secretly taking photos of you. You should do something.”

I wanted to say something in my defense, but I was caught off guard. I saw the confusion on the old man’s face. His face now wrinkled into a smoldering stare. He was clearly unhappy about my intrusion. He picked himself up on his walking stick and started walking toward me.

In that moment I could have done a million things. But, my friend’s words came to my rescue. I picked up my camera, turned around, and ran the fastest I ever could.

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