fictographica002: Maude Coffin Pratt

The trouble with cameras is that people see them a mile away and they get self-conscious and sneeze out their souls and put on that numbed guilty expression and act as if you are going to shoot them dead. Or worse, they pose like dummies and show their teeth: even your bare-assed savage knows how to say cheese. As a photographer I was embarrassed to be caught with that contraption in my mitts, like an elderly pervert, a distinguished old lady with my skirt around my neck frightening children at play. Later, I was proud of the way I could conceal my intention and, long before the Japanese produced their tiny instruments, I could disguise my camera–as a shoe box or a handbag or as a ridiculous hat that people gaped at, not knowing that I was recording their curious squints. Orthodox Jewish Boys, a small group of dark-eyed youngsters with beanies and sidecurls–some critics found them a bizarre evocation of alienated Americans ignoring the squalor of downtown Brooklyn and looking skyward toward Jehovah–are just some curious kids looking at my hat.
–Paul Theroux, Picture Palace (1978)

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