Canadian blogger and world traveler Brendan, aka "Cashewman" (who took the amazing photo above) has a great list of tips -- some aesthetic, some technical, some social -- about how to take great photographs when you're on the road in someplace like, say, rural Africa, where he's apparently spent a lot of time. One of the 13 tips he lists: ask if it's okay.
This is an important one for me. There are larger debates about photography etiquette and our responsibilities as visitors and photographers. I'll leave that for another time, but a golden rule is: if you're unsure whether to take a picture of somebody, then ask. In some areas, it's considerate to leave a small gift or amount of money as a thank you. Your call.13 Tips for Great Photography in a Developing Country (via @whiteafrican/ photo: Cashewman)
I missed one of the best shots I have ever come across, because I asked whether it was okay to shoot. Picture an old Senegalese grandmother, piercing green eyes within a face etched with thin white contours. Headscarf, clutched just below the chin with a flowing, boney hand. She was sitting in front of an earth wall with soft evening side lighting. When I asked if I could take a picture, she said no, with a subtle smile. I still wish I could have taken the shot. But she didn't want me to, so I'll just have to remember it instead.