I’m going against the grain and starting with something old. In the nearly 4 and a half years since I took this, about 1,400 Flickr users have marked this as a favorite. It’s not my most popular image there anymore, but before I fell in love with wedding photography this picture was in some ways a symbol of my work and sensibility.
But I’ve never said anything more about it. I had just gotten a new lens (the old version of the 70-200 VR), and wanted to take it out for a test — where better than the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I saw this girl sitting there, mesmerized by this painting, from the side, and I immediately knew how it would look from behind.
But, of course, the 70-200 isn’t a short lens, particularly given the 1.5x crop of the D70s I was using. So I had to get back … WAY back. Luckily the Met has room for that sort of thing. Luckier still, she was still mesmerized by the time I lined up the photo. As I clicked the shutter, two tourists came beside me and looked at what I was shooting.
“Oh man! That’s a great shot!” They fumbled with their cameras, but she was gone.
There are a lot of issues with photographing children — this is a country where people can have the police called on them for photographing their OWN kids — but at the time I was a photographer for Columbia University Teachers College, and I got very used to taking photos of the backs of kids’ heads as compositional elements if their parents hadn’t signed the model releases. Luckily no security guards decided to tackle me.