Adventures of an Airport Lurker

Yesterday, the Sunday after Thanksgiving, was supposedly one of the busiest travel days of the year. I’d be willing to bet a few of us were amongst the many travelers that were going home by either plane, train, or camel after a relaxing Thanksgiving holiday. So, naturally, the organization I’m interning for decided to publish a feature of this bustling day. I was assigned to go out to PDX airport to photograph this busyness and capture intimate greetings and farewells between friends and family. Sounds sweet, right? Well I definitely witnessed some sweet moments but I also have never felt like more of a creepy lurker in my whole life.Image

Standing 10 feet from a couple passionately embracing and crying as they say goodbye to each other for who know’s how long is probably one of the creepiest things a person can do. I did this for over two hours, lingering in the shadows of the security lines, waiting for tears to be shed (solid gold) or a group hug to take place (a close second). Now this may be hard to believe, but let me tell you, people DO NOT like having their picture taken while they are having an intimate moment with someone they love and have to say goodbye to. They don’t even like a camera being nearby, fearing that it may land on them and capture the mascara jogging down their faces at hasty speeds.

I think this may have been my most awkward assignment yet because I felt very intrusive on private moments. People were giving me the death glare, turning their backs to me, and pulling their children closer as if to say, “Don’t you dare point that lens at me.” So did I learn something from being the world’s biggest creeper? Maybe. I learned that you have to do what you have to do to get things done, especially when you’re on a tight deadline. People may hate you just a little bit, but that’s a sacrifice that has to be made. I’m one of those people that hates to be hated, even if it’s just in my head. So when I see a couple (whose make-out session I have interrupted with the world’s loudest “CLICK CLICK CLICK”) stare me down and promptly strut to the other side of the security line, I want to shout, “It’s my job, I’m so sorry!” But I don’t because I also learned that if you ask people who are in the middle of saying goodbye to loved ones if you can photograph said goodbye, they tend to say a big fat “NO.” Shocker.

So I survived the assignment and the day and had two photos printed with the accompanying article, and five posted online. Awkward success? Perhaps. Over my fear of being a creepy lurker? Not quite.


Eilise Ward

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6 Responses to Adventures of an Airport Lurker

  1. katshannon says:

    Hahaha, I love this post Eilise. It sounds like you felt a bit like paparazzi to all these people. What you said is all true and I think it’s really good that you still just went for it and got the job done. People will be people and they might end up loving the photo you took, so you never know!
    Glad it all worked out and I’m sure it was another great photo job by you. (btw, LOVE the picture you chose!)

  2. hailayn says:

    You had me chuckling with this one. I know myself well enough to know I would have done a terrible job with this assignment. Props to you for doing what you had to do to get a good picture and not caring whether or not that meant making someone uncomfortable. People are so funny when it comes to pictures, but I’ll bet overall, they were glad they have that moment captured forever. Good job and thanks for sharing!

  3. Eilise, I’m glad you shared. First of all, it’s hilarious. Second, I think it’s really important to snap into professional mode when this happens and you have a deadline, like you did. It’s tempting to let our social habits guide us away from these awkward situations, but it’s good you were able to overcome it for the sake of the photos.

  4. lizazevedo says:

    Eilise, I would have loathed this assignment too. I applaud you for doing your best and sticking with the assignment even when you felt like a creep. You really are showing your internship that you are a respectable photographer… no wonder you got MVP!

  5. PDXSX says:

    Aw haw haw haw haw! That’s too funny.

  6. nwfilmcenter says:

    Great post! You’re quite comical in an awkward situation. I don’t know what I would do if I had to follow people and take pictures of them! Glad you could overcome it and get the assignment done. I’m sure your pictures turned out amazing!

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