Kind Strangers

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Felix0890, Nov 2, 2009.

  1. Felix0890

    Felix0890 TPF Noob!

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    I've been intrigued by street photography lately. So far, I have not gotten a single worthy shot from strangers on the street. Most of them are quick to turn away from the camera, or even worst . . . smile at the camera (urghh!).

    Today, however, I was walking around and saw this guy with a unique style (for Miami anyway) and started shooting away. It was crowded so most of the shots were of people blocking him or just not good at all. He walked up to me and asked if I was trying to shoot him.

    I guess he must have seen the disappointed look on my face as I deleted the pictures from the camera because he walked up to me and asked if I wanted him to walk back so that I could try again. This is completely new to me; a stranger actually cooperating with me! I did ask him to go back and he did a pretty good job at not making it look like it was staged.

    Here's the shot I got. It's not the best, and not what I was looking for, but him wanting me to get a good picture made me try to fix it as much as I could.

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    Feel free to share any friendly/cooperating street photography stories. :)
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2009
  2. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The trick to good street photography is capturing people unaware (well can be, that's another rule that can be broken.)

    Usually catching people interacting and going about their routines but doing so in a way that's unique is what I believe makes a good "street photo" shot. None of these people knew that I was taking photos of them. Granted, not all of them are your typical urban environment, but it's about capture a moment with that random person/people.

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    Didn't want to jack your thread, so they're smalls. Click for the Flickr pages if you want.
     
  3. Felix0890

    Felix0890 TPF Noob!

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    My problem is that the only decent lens I have right now is a 50mm. I have to get close to whoever I want to shoot in order to get what I want (I like closeups). Since I have to get so close, they notice me and the shot gets ruined. :( I'm dying to get my 100mm.
     
  4. Village Idiot

    Village Idiot No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Learn to work it. It's wide enough that you can aim at something next to the person and still have them in the frame. Also, be inconspicuos.
     
  5. df3photo

    df3photo TPF Noob!

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    When I was in school one assignment was to do street photos... we would go out in groups, one day I found an interesting looking black man standing next to a bright yellow tiled wall with a plaid jacket and a cheap trucker cap on, he must have had only a handful of teeth... I talked to him asked if I could take his picture... and I did. I walked away and my group wanted to see it when it was processed they thought it would be a great picture... and where surprised i asked him if i could take it. Turns out I was so interested in the wall and his clothes the I some how missed the fact that he had a brilliant silver claw for a hand...

    I just looked for it, thought i could scan it and post it... but cant find it. I will try to look again later...
     
  6. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Henri Cartier-Bresson was a pretty famous street shooter. Maybe you have heard of him? He had some crazy idea about "the decisive moment" being important and all. He used a 50mm lens on a Leica for over 95% of his shots, over his entire career. You have the advantage of a 50mm with an even narrower field of view...you ought to be able to capture a few street photos using a 50.
     
  7. usayit

    usayit No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    IMO, Street photography done with a telephoto is like painting a portrait with the palm of your hand. You loose the expression, the feeling, sense of space, and everything goes flat. With the exception of the paparazzi (do they fall under "street photographers"?) most street photographers will prefer normal and wide angle lenses. The results are very delicate and require a certain attention to detail... As Derrel mentioned in regards to one of my favorite photographers, Henri Cartier-Bresson, you are looking to capture what he calls "The Decisive moment". The difference between a successful shot and just a normal snapshot could be as subtile as a man pouring wine for his wife (as opposed to a man and wife just being framed sitting).

    Because of the "Decisive Moment" is here and gone in a blink of an eye... because you are dealing with human subjects that react... because you are dealing with a dynamic unpredictable environment... because you intent is to not capture an image but a "feeling"... Street photography, IMO, is the most difficult form of photography. Most won't understand this... and most will write it off as a person seeking "snapshots". Almost all other forms of photography are a bit predictable or controllable.

    This is why, I go out and can shoot dozens of rolls and not a single frame that is 100% satisfying. It is the challenge that keeps me going and happy doing so. The fact that I don't have albums filled with street photos that make me proud is actually part of the reasons I developed an interest in street photography. Kinda like a game that is easy to play (simple snapshots) but takes years to master. Robert Capa (war photographer is essentially a street photographer) used to say if you photos aren't good enough, you are not close enough. He is right... I am a pretty shy person and street photography brings me out of my element... a trait I seek to overcome.

    As to how to accomplish this??? I've been seeking an answer for so many years and there just isn't a simple answer. It takes practice.. a certain attitude and effort to blend with people and environment. Sometimes, I simply go up to the subject who is doing something of interest to me and ask if they wouldn't mind me taking some shots (not all street photography has to be done in secret). These performers knew of my presence and I even tipped them beforehand:

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    Sometimes, you just have to see an opportunity and jump on it.

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    Sometimes there is one small moment that leads a story unexpectedly.....

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    Sometimes its simply trying to catch the overall feel of the environment

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    Oh yes.. not all street photography takes place on the street.. again.. "The Moment"

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    As for the photo in the original post, I have to say that the subject was extremely nice and an attitude that is far too rare. Kudos to him .. whoever he is. I think the photo is a start but I like to see something in the photo that tells a story.. the subject in an environment.

    All the photos above were shot on negative on either 50mm or 35mm
     
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2009

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