Feeling Instrusive

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by JLEphoto, Nov 16, 2009.

  1. JLEphoto

    JLEphoto TPF Noob!

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    So, I have recently decided to do some basic street/people photography. However, I feel as if I am invading people's privacy. Does anyone have any words of encouragement for pursuing this avenue of photography?
     
  2. AverageJoe

    AverageJoe TPF Noob!

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    Have a cocktail before you go. ;)
     
  3. JLEphoto

    JLEphoto TPF Noob!

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    Nice..:er:.. sigh.... I don't drink.
     
  4. rocdoc

    rocdoc TPF Noob!

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    I'm very interested in the feedback you get. I have the same problem and I'm sure we're not alone. Some of the pics I like best are street "candids" and it's really hard not to look creepy taking them. Of course, you can always ask first, but then the whole point of the non-posed, spontaneous shot flies out the window.
     
  5. JLEphoto

    JLEphoto TPF Noob!

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    Exactly.
     
  6. patrickt

    patrickt TPF Noob!

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    Well, you are in a sense being intrusive. If I'm taking a photo of one or two people, I generally get approval. It can be as simple as holding my camera up and getting a smile or schmoozing a bit. With digital, I can snap away until the person gets bored posing and goes back to whatever they were doing before. If it's a basic street scene, I snap away.

    I have seen people being incredibly intrusive, such as snapping a blind beggar from less than 24" and ignoring the blind beggars questions about what was going on. I had the feeling that had I said anything I would have gotten a lecture on rights so I waited until he joined friends at an outdoor cafe for beer and I went over and started taking photos of him drinking beer from less than 24". Guess what? He got seriously irritated.

    I'm not very social but I am pretty good at chatting with strangers. For a little girl dressed as an angel for a school pageant, "Oh, your daughter really is an angel. May I take some photos?" For an elderly woman begging, "The history of Mexico is in your face. May I take a portrait?"

    For people who are frequent fixture on the street, I'll have a print made and give it to them later. The word has spread and people don't mind my photos.

    I did take a photo of two street vendors, husband and wife, sitting back to back and catching a nap. I gave them copies of the prints. The husband laughed and was delighted and the wife wasn't.

    When my son was leaving home I told him that 95% of the people in the world are nice. After time in Japan, Korea, Indonesia, and Turkey, he agreed.
     
  7. AverageJoe

    AverageJoe TPF Noob!

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    Cool story patrickt.
     
  8. Rifleman1776

    Rifleman1776 TPF Noob!

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    I think there is/was a very similar thread going on about this same subject recently.
    Generally, there is no expectation of privacy when one is in a public venue.
    I have taken many thousands of shots on streets, in parks, etc. A good zoom tele, with stabilizer and steady hand is essential. Have your settings and focus pre-set, if manual. Be as comfortable with your equipment as you are with your arms and hands. Wear dark clothes. Don't stare. Frame and compose the shot in your mind's eye before raising the camera. Raise, find subject, click, lower camera. Should only take two seconds.
    In rough neighborhoods you may be taking serious chances with a camera. I know. At times, my employer hired armed off-duty police to accompany me. Your choice. Sometimes the roughest, and most dangerous, people can make the greatest character photos.
    Did someone tell you it was all going to be easy??? ;)
     
  9. JLEphoto

    JLEphoto TPF Noob!

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    No, I just have no experience with this type of photography but I am very interested in gaining some. As far as the armed guard... well, I will take care of that myself ;). I need to just go out and shoot just to get a feel for it... Thanks all for your comments. They are appreciated.
     
  10. ANDS!

    ANDS! No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Why the "sigh" - the principle is there: just relax. Anytime you take a photograph you are intruding on "private space" essentially. Would you feel as nervous if your subjects had no way of seeing you there (for example shooting with a telephoto lens?) - probably not. What changes if you're more up close - confidence level. If you radiate nervousness and discomfort, whoever you are shooting will pick up on that, especially if you are up close. If you act as if you belong where you are, then most folks wont even think twice.
     
  11. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    If you want to ease into it, so-to-speak, I would recommend that shoot in an area where there are a lot of tourists with cameras such as Quebec City where I shoot. Santa Claus parades, areas of street theatre, market places are great as well. With a telephoto, even shooting from the other side of busy street can work well. Picking your location to shoot from, so that you are not in the way of anyone but still with a good camera angle for taking street photos. It is not necessary for example to be sticking the camera in someone's face in order to take the picture.

    skieur
     
  12. Patrice

    Patrice No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    You can also experiment with different equipment. Nothing draws more attention to you as a photographer as raising an slr to your face and then the mirror slap just exacerbates the problem. Film range finders are very inexpensive and they have the qualities of being small and virtually silent and they can easily be pre focussed. These qualities very much help with reducing your visual impact as a photog. If you decide you like the genre then you can go digital rangefinder.

    Another type of camera that reduces your visual impact is a tlr. Since you are not raising a camera to your face hardly anyone notices you as a photographer. The little 6cm tlr's such as the Rollieflex, Rolleicord, Yashicamat were excellent for this kind of work. Going digital with tlr is not possible as far as I know. The waist level finders on the medium format slr's such as the hassy's and bronie's reduce the visual impact but the mirror slap still draws attention.
     

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