Below is a short video of my travels through Croatia livened up with a song by Great Big Sea. If you don’t like the photos you’ll at least hear a song performed by some fun loving Canadians. (And who doesn’t like Canadians?) The video begins in Split, travels east along the coast to Podgora then inland to the Plitvice Lakes National Park and concludes in Zagreb. What you cannot see in the video is how friendly the Croatians were toward me and how safe I felt traveling there, even when walking around Zagreb after midnight.
Two concessions to the Croatian friendliness occurred in the markets of Split and Zagreb. Early in the video you will see a stern faced, solidly built woman standing behind a pile of green peppers and cherries. She got upset with me photographing her produce and began waving her hands in the air. Then she started yelling at me in Croatian. I didn’t understand the words but the sentiment was clear, “Stop photographing my vegetables”. I stopped immediately and apologized.
I had a similar experience in a market in Zagreb but none in Spain, France, Scotland, etc. The merchants were both women and over fifty years old. It made me wonder if the older Croatians who grew up under a communist government and who have also experienced war and ethnic cleansing are more guarded about being photographed.
When doing street photography I avoid looking secretive and often smile and hold up my camera gesturing for permission to photograph. But the facial expression, light, angle, etc. may be there for only a second and telegraphing all your actions or being too timid will cause you to miss some interesting and candid shots. Like most leaps of faith you don’t know exactly how you’re going to land until after you’ve committed to the jump. When on the edge to “shoot” or “not shoot” I often follow Mark Twain’s advice, “It is easier to beg forgiveness than to seek permission”. But I also try to learn from the experience and use that knowledge to avoid negative encounters further down the road. Somedays I learn more quickly than others.