Uncomfortable Subjects

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by loves_guitar, Jan 20, 2007.

  1. loves_guitar

    loves_guitar TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2006
    Messages:
    88
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    BC, Canada
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Hey everyone,

    This may come across as an odd question, but it's something I've been struggling with.
    I am wanting to do more candid portraits of people: working, playing, etc. These are people I know (not just strangers on the street).
    My question: How do you as a photographer get over the feeling that the person you are shooting feels completely uncomfortable and hates having a lens pointed at them?

    Is this just something I have to get over? I want great photos, but I also want friends! :)
     
  2. Don Simon

    Don Simon TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2005
    Messages:
    2,484
    Likes Received:
    0
    It must be because it's 2:00am here and I'm tired, but when I read the title I misunderstood, I thought maybe the post was about embarassing medical conditions :lol:

    This is a tricky one. Similar questions in the past have got various responses, ranging from getting the subject to sign a form, to hiding very far away with a long telephoto. But usually the question is about candid photography of strangers. With people you know, it should be easier. For example they won't think you're a pervert or a government employee (hopefully). Of course it can still be a little awkward. If your friends don't like being photographed, most likely they will say so, express it in their body language, or throw heavy objects at you. If they do none of those things then they're probably quite comfortable with the situation.

    On a more constructive note, it will probably reassure them if you then show them the shots you took of them.
     
  3. Jeremy Z

    Jeremy Z No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2007
    Messages:
    1,171
    Likes Received:
    31
    Location:
    Chicago burbs
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    If you are doing strangers, just use a telephoto zoom.

    As to people I know, here is how I got around it. Carry a camera around your neck all the time. Tell them to pretend you're not there; if they act like you're there when you're shooting, the pictures won't be right. Eventually, they will get used to it and either tell you to knock it off or they will accept it.

    In my case, it was my family members. They kind of rolled their eyes and acted unnaturally at first, but they got used to it. After I had a couple rollls of film developed, and they saw that I was capturing some honest smiles, and that the honest smiles look much better than the posed ones, they didn't give me any more trouble.

    The caveat to that is to not let them see anything unflattering of themselves.

    Some people will hide their faces with their hands, acting very paranoid all the time for no good reason. Just give up on them and move on. They're not worth the trouble.
     
  4. LaFoto

    LaFoto Just Corinna in real life Staff Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2004
    Messages:
    34,814
    Likes Received:
    814
    Location:
    Lower Saxony, Germany
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    Well, I have taken a good many candid photos of people who I met on various occasions or travelled with, one of them being a very good friend of mine, and just that friend of mine once got so fed up with my taking his photo (too, among those of many others of the group), from afar, with the telephoto lens, that he shouted at me all across the room "Corinna, CAN I now please just BE here WITHOUT getting photographed!"

    I have sworn to myself since that whenever we are on an outing together I will make my photos look like he was not with us :irked:
    (Didn't work out the last time we went on a trip together, he did end up in some of the group shots... :roll: ).

    Often enough later, when people see the close-ups I get of them (from quite far away) they are all amazed and happy and go "wow!" and "I didn't even realise you were taking all these photos!"

    But I do make sure I don't photograph them while they a) eat, b) yawn, c) have their eyes half closed (or delete such photos right away, or throw them away, depending on how I photograph) or d) pull any kind of unflattering face.

    As Jeremy is also saying: once you know one of your friends is particularly against having his/her photo taken, leave them alone. Just DON'T take their photo.
     
  5. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2003
    Messages:
    7,021
    Likes Received:
    34
    Location:
    Lawrence, KS
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    I think it's important to decide whether you are merely annoying them, or truely making them uncomfortable in a serious way. If I'm aware that a subject hates being photographed, I don't photograph them. It makes me uncomfortable to make others uncomfortable.
     
  6. Jeremy Z

    Jeremy Z No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2007
    Messages:
    1,171
    Likes Received:
    31
    Location:
    Chicago burbs
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Oh, here's another trick. If they are shots of your family & friends, mention to them that the photos will be taken one way or the other, and if they just act naturally, they will come out better. If they act unnaturally, be sure to bring an unflattering print in with the rest of the good ones next time you're showing pix.

    Next time, when you make that threat, it will carry some weight. :)

    What Matt said is right though. Just a tad annoyed is one thing. REALLY annoyed is another thing.
     
  7. sothoth

    sothoth TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2006
    Messages:
    250
    Likes Received:
    0
    I got great advice from a photo professor in college: get comfortable knowing the approximate correct shutter speed and aperture settings for situations (like a rule of thumb that if you have X amount of light use Y shutter speed and Z f-stop) and then shoot from the hip/chest without looking through the viewfinder. Often people won't notice you.

    There are two famous photographers whom I love, one went cross country and the other photographed friends shooting heroine (and other nasty things) and captured some fantastic "americana" photos using this very technique. Some were in places like diners, bus stops, etc, and by the look of some of the subjects, I'm quite sure the photographer would have been beaten and killed had they known he was photographing him.

    The above advice (from JZ) is also great, people do get habituated to you ALWAYS taking pictures. Even if you show them the funny ones with milk spilling out their nostrils, you might find they really like everyone laughing at it, since for a moment they're the center of attention due to your handiwork.
     
  8. MonteMama

    MonteMama Calmer than you, Dude.

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2006
    Messages:
    155
    Likes Received:
    0
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I've been struggling with this as well... I recently attended a party with some co-workers. They were not at all pleased with my incessant picture-taking... I assured them that I wouldn't keep any pictures that weren't flattering, as it would reflect poorly on me as a photographer as much as on them ;)

    My second technique was to remind them what reality TV show people say, that after a day or two you don't notice the cameras anymore... I agree with Corinna that if you always have your camera with you, they're more used to it and don't notice it so much :)
     
  9. Hair Bear

    Hair Bear TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2006
    Messages:
    398
    Likes Received:
    0
    Its a fine line between photography an intrusion I think.

    I like taking people shots on the street, I don't use a zoom as I feel that’s sneaky. I like them candid so don't ask unless I'm spotted.

    On the flip side, I hate having my picture taken and seeing the results in print. Therefore at two weddings I had words with the photographer and the video guy.

    The video guy was cool and I saw the end DVD thing (snore) I was in 1 shot - cool.

    The Photographer was less help full. It’s the camera in your face thing for me. I asked him nicely not to get in my face as every time I turned around he seemed to be stood close and taking a picture. On the 3rd occasion I told him there are lots of interesting people here who want there pics taken, please shoot them and leave me alone.

    He didn't take any notice and carried on!! To the amusement to a couple of friends and other guests on the 5th occasion I offered to tip him and his kit over the sea wall if I caught him taking 1 more pic of me.

    He did try and befriend me at the food table later and explain that he was a very good photographer and had been specially asked to do the wedding because he was so good - I declined to tell him he was doing the wedding because he was the only person available on that day!

    My tip would be if somebody doesn't want his or her photo taken, don't do it or be prepared to accept the fall out if you do.
     
  10. Jeremy Z

    Jeremy Z No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2007
    Messages:
    1,171
    Likes Received:
    31
    Location:
    Chicago burbs
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    With all due respect Hair Bear, you were not the person paying his fee. If I was taking pictures at a wedding and the bride & groom asked me to get lots of candid photos of everyone, I would do it, even if some people protested. The ones who protest, I would try to "bug" a bit less and maybe use the telephoto a bit more. ;)

    sothoth, that is great advice. I think I will start working on that. What makes it a little more tricky with digital is that we can change ISO from shot to shot, so I would have to memorize that kind of thing too.

    To add to what you said, I got some of my best candids with the following two cameras:

    1) Yashica T4 - A 35mm point & shoot, with a fixed focal length Zeiss 35mm lens. I would turn off the flash, hold it upside down so that I could press the shutter release with my pinky, and shoot away.

    2) Rollei 35S - This one was great because I had to prefocus anyhow, I could set the exposure ahead of time, the shutter was quiet, and there isn't even a motorized winder to make noise! (it also had a great lens, even though it was a Rollei HFT Tessar instead of a Zeiss or Schneider-Kreuznach Tessar)

    Sneaky shots are just nearly impossible to do with an SLR. I'm looking forward to getting a lot of sneaky shots with my Canon SD600 Elph!
     
  11. Hair Bear

    Hair Bear TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2006
    Messages:
    398
    Likes Received:
    0
    I agree and the best way to deal with the problem, exactly as I would have done, rather than sticking a lens into somebodies face who clearly does not want there pictures taken

    But I don't think fee has anything to do with it either. He wasn't paid to take picture of me but the wedding, the invite did not say you must agree to have your photo taken every 5 mins.

    I shot a picture of a street band a few days ago, i simply showed the camera and they nodded. This allowed me to take as many as I could in a vain attempt to get a good one!!!.

    If they had said no then you have to respect this.

    My point here is some people do not want their photo taken - end of. If you keep taking pictures when you have been asked not to you must deal with the fall out, simple. Or change the way your shoot on that day.
     
  12. sothoth

    sothoth TPF Noob!

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2006
    Messages:
    250
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'm off to a class right now otherwise I'd look this up and provide a link, but the rule of thumb was called the "sunny 16 rule" and I think the 16 was the default aperature. There was some easy way to remember it, like at f-16, set the shutter speed to whatever ISO film you have, so for 100 set the shutter to 1/100, for 400 ISO set the shutter to 1/400, etc. But... I know that's not a great explanation, I'm missing where you adjust it for low/med/high light. Not to mention special circumstances like indoors with bright windows, etc. But... you have to assume you'll get a lot that aren't ideally exposed and spend more time in the darkroom to get it right. The upside is that shooting from the hip and chest really captures what you can't always capture if the subject knows what you're doing. I know there is an ethical problem here but frankly I like candids enough to do this anyway.
     

Share This Page

Search tags for this page

uncomfortable subjects

,
what are uncomfortable subjects to take about