Kristin Kirgan Photography | Fight for Your Right to Shoot

Fight for Your Right to Shoot

January 25, 2015  •  1 Comment

There comes a moment in every photographer's career when you are faced with deciphering if you are in a safe environment to shoot or not. Being that majority of photogasm worthy locations seem to always be decked with an abundance of distressed walls, character and intriguing people and faces. Of course when it comes to capturing outside your comfort zone comes a lot of risk. Risk of $4000 worth of equipment getting jacked, risk of being chased down the street by a Brothel Madam and hiding behind a washing machine for and hour for photographing one of her "ladies" or simple risk of loosing your life from being in the wrong situation and the wrong time and this runs even higher of a risk when you are in a totally different country with different customs. Naturally, it's always important to put safety first especially if you feel as though an environment is too rough to be feelin' your "Don't fuck with me face". Of Course no one should ever put their life at risk, but as a female photographer drawn to capturing the unfamiliar, I tend to get stuck with tip-toeing around my intuition and until I can afford a beefy bodyguard assistant to accompany me wherever I travel, I created a list based on my experiences that have helped me prepare for photographing in possible "risky" environments



1. RESEARCH. Before you ever enter into an unfamiliar territory make sure you jump online and do your research. Make yourself as familiar as possible with the customs of the local people. Look-up the crime rate and try to see if you can find anything online that might be evidence of the dangers that may lie ahead by going into this environment... Our generation is blessed with the amazing gift called the information highway...get to a computer and exorcise it.

2. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM. Nothing screams adventure more then the power of two. Think about it... we have two hands, two eyeballs, two feet, two ears...a lot of things just function better when they are in pairs and in most cases so do people. Make it a group activity. Of course a dope friend willing to journey with you into foreign territory is always a easy thing to find, so it's not always the best solution, but put the word out there and who knows, you may just found yourself an awesome new travel partner.

3. LEAVE THE EXPENSIVE GEAR AT HOME. No matter how securely we think we have a $3000 camera (aka our baby) wrapped around our neck, it's never worth the risk of getting stolen. Yes, there are many things you can do to conceal the camera, but thankfully we have always lived in a time of options. Camera phones these days are beyond blowing my mind with clarity and pixels. If you feel like your camera phone is still living in the cave ages, then go the film route. Simple film cameras carry the vintage persona that people want to respect and they tend to keep under the radar. Your images don't always have to look like they popped out of Natgeo. Challenge your perspective by scouting the area out first before bringing out the big guns and embrace using other camera mediums.

4. PREPARE FOR THE WORST. Not a day goes by that I'm sure you don't ask yourself "what if" at least once. "What if I drink coffee instead of tea?", "What if I don't take my dog for a walk today?", "What if I tell my best friend I'm in love with him?" ...Life is full of these types of questions. Maybe we ask ourselves these "what if" questions because we have doubts about a parting time in our lives or maybe because we want to challenge our choices as individuals. So why not prepare yourself with answers to "what if" questions when it comes to traveling in new environments. "What if I drop my camera, is there a place I can get it repaired in this foreign city?", "What if someone threatens me to hand over my camera, how will I respond? What are the consequences of my response?". Trust me as an artist, I love to live in the moment and believe everything and everyone is perfect, but that's not reality and we need to be responsible for ourselves and for the best interest of our "babies". 

5. KEEP AN OPEN MIND.  Aside from using good judgement when the circumstance calls for it, make sure you leave your bad judgement at home. The more you travel the more you will come face to face with different customs from cultures all around the world. Everywhere you go in this world, I guarantee you are going to experience life differently then you are used to at home. Be open to learning the customs of the locals, they might not have a place in your world, but the whole reason you are traveling is for the experience, so be open to cherishing the moment.

6. GET EXCITED. Congratulate yourself. All your research is about to pay off! Remember its not about the destination as much as it is more about the journey.


Here are some photos I took with my Iphone when I was traveling out in the unknown, For more photo updates on my journeys follow me on Instagram HERE



"Kick Start" La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina

"Abandon Ship" Puerto Natales, Chile

"Calling Ben" Big Ben, London, England

"Blending In" Self Portrait, Joshua Tree, California


"Flip Side" Bangkok, Thailand


"Boca Dreams" La Boca, Buenos Aires, Argentina



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