I'm a "people" photographer, but I prefer recording people unawares, capturing the unprepared moment, the unposed, unsmiling, natural shots. Most of the time I use a 200mm zoom, but sometimes even that isn't far enough away to record unnoticed.
Taking someone's photograph is an invasion of their personal space.
I have a shoot first, plead ignorance afterwards approach.
Asking first will kill the moment and destroy what may have been a great photograph.
The eyes are said to be the gateway to the soul, whereby you'll always tell a person's well-being through their eyes. Another belief is that taking a person's photo means that you're stealing or taking away part of their soul.
As a photographer I'm always having a personal battle with myself that I'm doing wrong. That I'm being too intrusive.
On my first trip to India in 1987 a Tibetan man ran after me asking if I'd taken his photograph. He looked so threatening that I said I hadn't. Pre-digital he couldn't check, but that stood me in good stead for always being wary whenever I raised my camera to my eye.
You can normally tell if someone doesn't want their photograph taken. They will look or turn away, gesture or swear at you. Or even throw objects. That's a certain No.
I always respect that and walk away.
For this book I have selected images where I obtained the person's permission first. Mostly.
I regard these as some of my finest images. I have engaged with my subject and made a connection with them.
Some days it doesn't always work out. Maybe I'm lacking self confidence or in the wrong mood. There's no point shooting on those days.
Nations have different attitudes to being photographed. Some are more photo friendly than others. India has always embraced photographers. Which is probably why I've returned there on six occasions and shot 20% of this book there.
I felt particularly self conscious in Burma and Sri Lanka. Two sensitive countries with internal conflict that affected my psyche. I still managed to capture some of my greatest portraits in Burma however, where people are still approachable despite their hardship.
One day I shall return to these countries, seek out the people I've photographed armed with a set of prints and return their souls.