Documentary shooters: How do you find people?

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by Gabriel, Dec 13, 2009.

  1. Gabriel

    Gabriel TPF Noob!

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    I have a couple of projects that seem to be getting nowhere. I thought I had some leads, but no go just yet. I'll keep trying, but it's possible both concepts are a little too abstract to find ready and willing subjects as quickly as I had thought that I would - one, which I've posted about before, centers on bikers with disabilities, and the other would focus on women with tattoos in the workplace (nurses, office workers, etc., typically asked to cover up their ink at work).

    I need a little help here. How do I go about finding people? Let's say it's for a less unusual project, though I tend to think off the beaten path sometimes. Do you go to craigslist? (Tried it.) Subject-specific forums? (Tried it.) Put an ad in the paper? (Not tried yet.) Talk to people you know that may know the right persons? (Tried it.)

    I can't offer money, only prints. Is this an issue? I need a simple model release signed as well, though the few conversations have rarely gotten that far. Is that scaring people off?

    What is your approach?

    I know it doesn't help that I don't have too much relevant work on my site. I've thought of photographing friends the same way I would approach one of my stories, but they're all mostly hams when a camera is around anyway, lol. (Especially mine.)

    Any help would be greatly appreciated. Other ideas are churning around in my head, and I'd really like to get some stuff started. This is really the only thing inspiring me to pick up a camera right now, and I'm really excited about the whole notion.
     
  2. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    I'm sorry this is not going quite the way you were hoping. I wish I could send you some of my subjects since I have more than I can handle time wise. Of course, they are not quite what you are looking for. :lol:

    Here's a few ideas for the biker project. Write, call, talk to anyone and everyone that has anything to do with bikes and handicaps. For example, visit all the motorcycle dealerships in your area, go to every biking event you can get to cheaply, write/call all motorcycle associations, same with handicap associations, talk to rehab centers (not talking about drug rehab here. Can't think of what it is called. Therapy?). If you're not scared of them, get in touch with Hell's Angels club in your area. You could find subject there for both projects. Is there a motorcycle meetup group in your area? Another possibility. There are dozens of things to do. And be sure and always mention those projects to anyone you talk to. You never ever know who can get you a contact. People are always surprising me.

    But, have patience. Sometimes it can take a long time to do projects like that and both of yours will I think. I never offer any money and even though I will always give one print to the subject, I don't talk about it until they bring it up. If they don't bring it up, it's a nice surprise when you deliver the print to them. Not that you can't do it but I prefer people to talk to me because they want to rather than they want a print.

    I don't know how many handicap bikers there are in your area but the ability to travel (including out of state) would most likely help. You've tried a few different things. Fine. Keep at them. That kind of stuff does not happen overnight.

    Some people are pushy. I'm not. Not much anyway. I only push when I feel like the person really wants to say yes. Some people will say no, let it be. But you can still give them a couple business cards and ask that they pass them along if they know anyone who might be interested in talking to you.

    One of the biggest problem I have seen in this kind of photography is "what is the project." A lot of newbies only have a vague idea what they want to do. Make sure yours is well defined so that you can answer when a potential subject pops the question.

    I have looked at your website and it needs work. I couldn't really figure out how to navigate it easily and the first photos I saw were nudes... No a very good introduction to your work. "What? This guy wants to shoot me nude?" No, the photos don't need to be quite of the same theme but they need to be good to get their attention. You have some bike photos, make sure that's what those people will see first.

    I said good photos because some of the stuff on your website is not that good. Get rid of everything that is not good. The snake skin comes to mind. Some of them could use some PP because the colors are kind of blah.

    Carry a portfolio with you. When I look for nude models, I carry a 5X7 portfolio. I see someone on the street, I can show them something right away and they know I'm serious. If I send them to a web site, I probably would never see them again.

    I'm sure I could tell you more but it's late and I'm tired so that is all I can think about right now.

    Good luck.
     
  3. Gabriel

    Gabriel TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for your reply. This isn't the first time I have heard a comment about my site's navigation, so I'll work on that.

    I'm nowhere near giving up, I'm just wondering what other channels might I explore to find what I'm looking for. I'll see about a Hell's Angels chapter, though I think they don't have one locally. In my ad I mention outlaws (along with commuters, touring types, and whatever else), so working with them wouldn't be a problem. You have some other great suggestions that I'm going to put to use. I knew it wouldn't be too easy to find the people that I'm seeking, but then, the challenge is part of the fun :mrgreen: Traveling is not an issue as long as I can find the time to get off.

    I may rearrange my site to show the fashion stuff second or last, since I don't really do that anymore. The way I did it, it will be very easy to switch the galleries around. I didn't realize that nudes really are the very first thing you see on there - and that's not good for these projects at all!

    Thanks again.
     
  4. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    I thought of something that I didn't mention because it is so obvious to me. It may not be to you...

    There are a lot of veterans in the biking community (well, the Harley/HAMC community anyway) so veterans' groups could be another avenue for you.
     
  5. Gabriel

    Gabriel TPF Noob!

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    Yes, I've started looking into those as well. Right now, I am done with college for the year, so I will have more time to look for people (hence, all the questions and requests for pointers). Thanks.
     
  6. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    I don't know and didn't mean to say that the nudes are the first thing everybody sees. It just is what I landed on first while clicking on things trying to get somewhere :er:

    Some Hells Angels like being called outlaws, most don't. That is not how they see themselves. It's an "alternative lifestyle" :lmao:

    If you don't know much about them, you may want to do a little bit of reading before contacting any chapter. They have their own way of looking at things and it might be a good idea to have a certain understanding of it. Sonny Barger's biography "Hell's Angels" would be your best introduction to the club.

    How about saying just motorcycle riders/bikers in your ads? What kind they are doesn't really matter and categories often piss off people more than anything, I think.
     
  7. Gabriel

    Gabriel TPF Noob!

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    Alternative, eh? :sexywink:

    I've actually read a good amount on the Angels, and have encountered MCs on the road (and have either been ignored or have gotten along). I've read Barger's bio, along with his book, Freedom. Also, Hunter S. Thompson's book. There are probably only two reasons why I don't belong to an MC, but they're pretty big: I'm very much a loner, and have no need for a "brotherhood"; and, I'm not willing to do certain things (criminal and otherwise) just to be part of a group. Otherwise, I think I can sympathize with the core outlaw mentality (f**k society, to put it bluntly) better than with the weekend warrior types found at the typical bike night. But I digress....

    You may not have meant to imply that the nudes are the first thing a visitor to my site sees, but that is exactly what they see if they do the galleries in clockwise order. (By the way, she was not actually nude - those two are my only really Photochopped images, as I digitally removed her tiny bikini.)
     
  8. c.cloudwalker

    c.cloudwalker TPF Noob!

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    Did I respond to your PM? I thought I had but I don't see anything in my PM box... Maybe I hit the wrong button, lol.

    Hunter S. THompson is a fool in my opinion :lmao:

    MCs are not for everyone. I have never belonged to one (not much of a group person either) although I have ridden with some on occasion. I got to meet Sonny too. A friend of mine was a neighbor of his when he lived in CA. He may be worth getting in touch with. As far as I know he still rides and he probably could pass the word around quite easily for you. I think he still lives in Phoenix.

    Quick google turned this up: Sonny Barger - An American Legend

    Let me know whether or not you got my response to your PM. If not, I will do it again.
     
  9. T-town photographer

    T-town photographer TPF Noob!

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    Not for sure but I think southern Florida is Mongrol territory and not Hell's Angels. Just be carefull because these two clubs hate each other with a passion.

    Michael
     
  10. Gabriel

    Gabriel TPF Noob!

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    No PM, please resend :D

    Thompson, inarguably, did some very foolish things. He was too hopped up and burned out, I think. But I do like his writing.

    I ride every day, and haven't owned a car in about seven years now, plus I've visited over a dozen states on bikes that I've owned - I really just can't seem to mesh with the bike night crowd that well, as they can't understand me, nor I them. Yet as I read Barger's books I found myself agreeing with many of his views on motorcycling. But again, my path lies elsewhere, and not in an MC.

    Thanks for the link to Barger's site, though I think I may have that bookmarked somewhere. As Michael points out, though...

    I was pretty sure HA didn't have a chapter here, though they may have one in Daytona. I couldn't remember which MC claimed South Florida, though, but a quick search confirms that it's the Mongols. Hell, they have a MySpace page and all (with all kinds of anti-HA stuff on it). I might contact them instead, but I have to admit I know nothing about them.
     
  11. JohnMF

    JohnMF TPF Noob!

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    have you tried speaking to local tattoo artists?
     
  12. Gabriel

    Gabriel TPF Noob!

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    I've only tried one so far, and did not get a useful response. I'll keep trying with others, though.

    For the tattoo story, I actually know of a local girl who may be interested in the project. She works at a bookstore. I have not talked to her about it, and last time I went there she was not around. I'm going to try again this weekend. I think that once I get one person to do it, the rest will follow.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2009

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