History is a door

It will be a while before I board an international flight again, but it doesn’t look impossible any longer. I’d got into what I call ambush photography in extremely crowded tourist spots where everyone is busy converting history into a backdrop to their glamourised online lives. This lovely moon door in Nanjing’s Ming era Zhan Garden was impossible to photograph without including other tourists. Ambush photography is when you deliberately use others being photographed in your photo. Using a zoom lens from far to take photos of people photographing each other can be ambush photography, but it borders on voyeurism. Instead, I set a rule for myself: the best ambush photos are when the subject(s) of the other photographer’s photo clearly realize that a stranger is also taking their photo at the same time, or the subject of your photo is the photographer, not the people s/he is photographing. That said, the real subject of my ambush photos is usually the setting, when I cannot subtract the people from it. So that’s what I have done with this beautiful door in a pavilion overlooking a pool with weeping willows drooping over it. It is my memory of how this aristocratic garden, once closed to common people, has been repurposed in a republic.

By I. J. Khanewala

I travel on work. When that gets too tiring then I relax by travelling for holidays. The holidays are pretty hectic, so I need to unwind by getting back home. But that means work.


    1. Yes, sometimes that is a problem with an ambush photo; it should be shared with the subjects, but you don’t know how. Sometimes I would show the shot to the people I’d photographed, but more than that is hard with complete strangers.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I like it. It also reminds me of how I’m constantly amazed at how many Asian, particularly Japanese, people like to take selfies. On one of my visits to southern California a few years ago, my daughter and I were having afternoon tea at a very stately hotel. There were three young Asian women there, constantly taking selfies and photos of each other while surrounded by all the pomp and beauty. One even went in front of an enormous mirror to take selfies. A few days later at Descanso Gardens, I saw the same thing happening over and over. Just seems odd to me to ignore the beauty all around. 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

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