Street Photographer Shares the Moments When He’s Been “Caught” Taking a Photo

Street Photography by Benjamin Lee

Discretion is part of street photography. If you want to capture candid pictures of people, it’s best to do it when they can’t see you. But sometimes, as photographer Benjamin Lee (aka Itchban) shares, it’s unavoidable that you’ll get “caught.” In an ongoing series of photos, he pinpoints the moments when people are looking directly into his camera as they walk down the street, sit in their cars, or stand on the train.  It’s not just humans, either. Dogs also notice when Lee is trying to snap their portrait and give him a steely-eyed stare.

Lee compiled some of the images in a viral TikTok video with text that says, “POV: when they catch you shooting street photography.” It features a slideshow of the times people have seen him taking their photos. The wildly popular video had commenters fixated on one person—a woman on the London tube. A debate ensued; some people assumed she was mad that Lee was snapping her photo.

Lee posted a follow-up video showing that the woman wasn’t mad. “Sometimes street photography isn’t always what it seems,” he says. It turned out that he shot the photos in bursts, and he shared more photos from the encounter (which lasted just over a second). In the subsequent images, the woman smiles as her hair blows from the wind on the train.

The debate is a reminder that street photography captures people during a split second of their days. Although it might seem like we have the answers, the images are vague and allow us to make up our stories about who these people are and the moods they are in.

Discretion is part of street photography. But sometimes, as photographer Benjamin Lee (aka Itchban) shares, it’s unavoidable that you’ll get “caught.”

Street Photography by Benjamin LeeStreet Photography by Benjamin LeeStreet Photography by Benjamin LeeStreet Photography by Benjamin Lee

In an ongoing series of photos, he pinpoints the moments when people are looking directly into his camera.

Street Photography by Benjamin LeeStreet Photography by Benjamin LeeStreet Photography by Benjamin Lee

It’s not just humans, either. Dogs also notice when Lee is trying to snap their portrait and give him a steely-eyed stare.

Street Photography by Benjamin LeeStreet Photography by Benjamin Lee

Lee created a viral TikTok video highlighting the times he's been “caught.”

@itchban That eye contact 👌🏼 Which is your fave? — #streetphotography #photography #japan ♬ original sound – Posterised

Commenters debated whether one woman—standing on the London tube—was mad. Lee created a follow-up video showing that she was smiling.

@itchban Replying to @real madrid277 Sometimes, it aint that deep — #streetphotography #photography #london ♬ Better Call Saul TV Theme – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack – Voidoid

Benjamin Lee: Website | TikTok | Instagram | Facebook

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Benjamin Lee. 

Related Articles:

Street Photography Reveals the Candid Coincidences Hiding in Plain Sight

40 Years of Jamel Shabazz’s Iconic New York Street Photography at the Bronx Museum

Stunning Color Street Photography Captures the Spirit of Modern Tokyo

Sara Barnes

Sara Barnes is a Staff Editor at My Modern Met, Manager of My Modern Met Store, and co-host of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. As an illustrator and writer living in Seattle, she chronicles illustration, embroidery, and beyond through her blog Brown Paper Bag and Instagram @brwnpaperbag. She wrote a book about embroidery artist Sarah K. Benning titled 'Embroidered Life' that was published by Chronicle Books in 2019. Sara is a graduate of the Maryland Institute College of Art. She earned her BFA in Illustration in 2008 and MFA in Illustration Practice in 2013.
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