Shooting People (with a camera, if a shotgun is unavailable)

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by GoM, Sep 25, 2006.

  1. GoM

    GoM TPF Noob!

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    How the devil does one go about whipping their camera out in public and taking candid shots of strangers? I always see, constantly, whenever I'm out, photo ops with complete strangers, but I'm always, always, always too nervous/shy/worried about what they'd do when they see me kneeling and pointing a camera at full zoom at them. Hence, almost, if not all, of my photographs have been of architecture and other rather less humanic objects. Any tips or advice to help the anxious photographer?
     
  2. Peanuts

    Peanuts TPF Noob!

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    Argh, I can't find the thread here, but there is a great thread somewhere on here about this issue.

    Generally, I go with catching some eye contact and a small smile with the camera in hand and generally I will either get a nod or a shake of the head. Better then a slap on the face later one might say.
     
  3. LaFoto

    LaFoto Just Corinna in real life Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Some pics of people I have actually taken all candidly ... sometimes I placed family members or friends in the close vicinity of the person I wanted to get into my frame, pretended I was aiming at them and pulled the camera over to the person in question in the very latest moment. As long as they think you are (very openly) preparing to take a photo of someone who as openly and visibly poses for you, they acknowledge the fact and walk on without giving you any further notice.

    Another good moment to take candid people shots is when they are all busy watching something. Like the people I photographed in the Sony Centre in Berlin: they all watched the display on the super-big screen in there. I could thus pick them out one by one (as it were), they were too busy watching that screen to actually notice.

    With some I have been noticed and they looked mildly amused, so I - after taking their pic - calmly and very casually lowered the camera again and went my way ... often people don't seem to realise that with the full zoom you get headshots of them, but think you photograph a big scene ... and sometimes I also establish eye-contact and as soon as I get the slight no-shake-of-head, I walk on. It's ok.
     
  4. LaFoto

    LaFoto Just Corinna in real life Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Oh, just one quick addition to what I just wrote:

    I seem to be a lot more confident with regards to people photography when I am in big places such as New York, London or Berlin, where no one knows me and I don't know anybody, than here in my immediate surroundings. I was out in the bigger town nearby of late and thought I might as well take some street scenes and my inhibitions and shyness were overpowering! I was so surprised at my own quite fierce reaction to this being "my place", and a small place as well (!), I hardly recognised myself. Had I not even taken the pic of the drug-deal in Queens? And round here I am shyness personified? But yes. That is what happened.
     
  5. GoM

    GoM TPF Noob!

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    Heh, well, I'll try and put your tips to use, but when no-one I know is interested in photography and most of the photo ops you see are around campus...ehh. I'll conquer it one day. I take my camera with me to lectures and stuff, just incase I see anything I do decide to take a picture of, and I passed up so much because of it. I hope the school paper work will help with that
     
  6. DeepSpring

    DeepSpring TPF Noob!

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    What I found works is I'll go on a busy street and sit down at a small resturant or on a ledge or something. I hold the camera up to my face and pretend to be taking a picture of w/e it dosnt matter, you just sit there for a while "taking pictures" then when someone walks by the see you, think your busy, and continue on their walk and then you can grab a perfect shot. After you get a few shots you can get up and walk down the street and have a go someplace else.

    This one guy actually said sorry for getting in my shot, little did he know he was the shot hehehe
     
  7. Rob

    Rob TPF Noob!

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    Long lens + fast car!!?

    Rob
     
  8. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Portrait-style shots with a zoom on an SLR are tricky if you're not confident, as if you don't ask and are seen by your subject, many of your shots are likely to be of startled or suspicious people. It might be easier to go for crowd shots with a wide-angle, or use a point & shoot and shoot from waist level or in some other way to make it less obvious you're focusing on an individual. Digital point and shoots are good because you can frame on the LCD and shooting should be virtually silent, but if you're happy to use film another way is to get your hands on a cheap rangefinder, TLR or something else other than an SLR - then people are less likely to assume you're a stalker or journalist. Using old cameras and shooting from waist level is great, as you're likely to be met more by curiosity than suspicion.
     
  9. Lol999

    Lol999 TPF Noob!

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    slap a wide angle on and get up close. either ask permission or don't, and if necessary shoot from the hip. at first it's nerve wracking and then becomes one hell of an adrenaline rush. be prepared for some reactions though, and a lot depends on your appearance. Because of mine I get more refusals than permissions so I generally don't ask :D
     
  10. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

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    Or simply attach the biggest zoom and the biggest flash you can find, shoot continously and shout "Angelina! Give us a smile!" :D
     
  11. GoM

    GoM TPF Noob!

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    Well, today in the park I went up to the absolute perfect target to make if your absolute goal is to creep the crap out of someone.

    A single mom with two daughters below the age of 9.

    So anyway, after awkwardness for a minute we do get to talking as I snap away about how this is a hobby, etc...it really put her at ease that I gave her the link to Bake so she could see pictures of her daughters. I think I got a couple good ones, but I dunno.

    What's annoying is that I have a 'good' shot idea in my head, and on the bus ride home from downtown I saw it. And the people were conversing for about 10 minutes in or around the 'good' shot pose. Problem is the bus was half full and I'd feel awkward as crap busting out my SLR-ish in a crowded bus, and I don't have any batteries in (or the camera with me at the time) my point and click that could've done the job. ARGH so frustrating.
     
  12. LaFoto

    LaFoto Just Corinna in real life Staff Member Supporting Member

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    I went to take a look at the girls' photos and you did really well. The shadows were not quite so much to your advantage, but all in all their mom can be proud. And you see: it works (though I best like to take really candid shots, like the one you took at that bus stop - though you were "busted", of course ;) ;) ;))
     

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