Photographing Audience in Church | How to avoid staring?

AngelosPhotography

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I work for INC-TV as a photographer and videographer. I have no problems with exposure since I've been doing this for quite a while now. However, the problem is the fact that every time I walk up the side aisle of the audience to capture a wide angle shot, I get multiple people staring at the camera. You see, the thing is that I take photos for a magazine called The Pasugo, but they don't really accept photos with people staring at the camera when the preacher is preaching.

I use a Nikon D3100 with two basic lenses (55-200mm & 18-55 kit) to be lightweight and for other reasons. Our crew attire is pure formal black clothing to be a bit 'stealthy' since the side aisles are a bit dark. Anyways, do you guys have any tips that could help avoid parts of the audience from staring at the camera? They usually stare for a few seconds while some stare at the camera until it's away from their face. It's irritating me a bit.
 

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I work for INC-TV as a photographer and videographer. I have no problems with exposure since I've been doing this for quite a while now. However, the problem is the fact that every time I walk up the side aisle of the audience to capture a wide angle shot, I get multiple people staring at the camera. You see, the thing is that I take photos for a magazine called The Pasugo, but they don't really accept photos with people staring at the camera when the preacher is preaching.

I use a Nikon D3100 with two basic lenses (55-200mm & 18-55 kit) to be lightweight and for other reasons. Our crew attire is pure formal black clothing to be a bit 'stealthy' since the side aisles are a bit dark. Anyways, do you guys have any tips that could help avoid parts of the audience from staring at the camera? They usually stare for a few seconds while some stare at the camera until it's away from their face. It's irritating me a bit.

Turn off the AF assist light, focus confirmation beep, and use live view without holding it up to your face. I don't know the ISO performance of the camera but I will suggest a faster lens.
 

Tiller

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I would just wait there for a minute or two until they lose interest.
 

TCampbell

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You're going to have to speak to the preacher and explain that they are, apparently, not NEARLY interesting enough to hold the audience attention. That... or you'll need to build a duck blind in the church. ;-)

I'm only half-kidding. If people get bored, they're GOING to look around. If you are in any way even moderately more interesting then they're going to look at you. There's very little you can do about that other than not be there at all.

My cameras can be triggered remotely (I don't need to be nearby). But even if you put a camera on a tripod and there was nobody around it, I suspect you would STILL have people who wanted to look at it.
 

Gavjenks

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Just stand there with your camera up to your face for 2-3 minutes not moving at all. Make yourself very boring.

If that doesn't work, then crouch down a bit, frame up a shot, and try to hold the camera in the same basic position while you stand up and pretend to turn your head and simply listen to the preacher. Then when people lose interest, trip the shutter?

If you have 2 camera bodies, you could put one in the tripod where you want the shot from, and then walk somewhere else with the other one and flagrantly look somewhat interesting, to make bored people look at YOU, then trigger the release for the tripod remotely. They still won't be looking all at the preacher, but they also won't be looking at the camera.
 

TCampbell

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Just scream "OMG!!! Is that JUSTIN BEIBER?!!!!" (while pointing to the other side of the church), then snap the shot and run!

(Don't bother to write bad replies, I'm SORRY already... I'll just go back to drinking my wine. It's been a long day at work.)
 
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AngelosPhotography

AngelosPhotography

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The tips on waiting for a few minutes to lose their interests are very good ones as well as performing a triggered remote shot. I'll do the 'wait a few minutes' technique, and I hope it'll work. If not, then they really are bored listening to the preacher.
 

cptkid

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Why don't you have a sign about your head that read

"Yes it's a camera. Never seen one before? Please stop f***ing staring at it"

I don't think that would go down well it a church though.
 

bratkinson

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Doing most of my shooting at church events other than weddings, I know firsthand the trials of getting those in the pews to stop staring like deer in the headlights when you're up front.

The obvious one is to take a couple of shots with the flash while way too many of them staring at you. That will tend to 'wear out' the novelty of someone with a camera. Maybe a minute or two later, (and 4-5 wasted shots), I'll take a couple more and hope that no more than a 2-3 are looking right at the camera. The under-16 year olds are the worst offenders. I work from both sides, so perhaps the people on the left side aren't as likely to stare as those on the right side.

I also limit my taking pictures of the congregation to those times they are singing or during the "welcome/thanks for coming,etc" at the pulpit. Hopefully, they are more interested in singing (the words are projected on a screen in front) or paying attention to the speaker than to you.

When there's a guest speaker or group, I limit my shooting to the rear and center aisle/side aisles, but no closer than 1/2 way down. As the congregation is seated at those times, shooting over their heads and cropping them out works well. I'll also try some 'artsy' back lit shots between people while seated, or whatever might work out. Of course, from the rear and sides, it's usually the 80-200 f2.8L or 135 f2L on the camera, and maybe the 24-105 f4L. Fast glass and higher ISOs are a necessity. I'm usually shooting with no flash from the rear and sides, but will throw in an occassional flash shot or 3 just to 'make sure' I got a couple of good ones, no matter what. We frequently have soloists, some from within the church as well as those that are semi-professional. I limit my flash use with them to the first 20 seconds or so. From the few times I've been a soloist (when I still had decent hearing), I know how nervous one can get and a flash could be just too distracting. I also limit my flash use with visiting missionaries as well.

With the low level of lighting in church, it's a continuous 'battle' with the exposure triangle. Having a 580 EX II to 'light the place up' when needed really helps, but blinding everyone more than a couple of times is likely annoying. So I typically bounce it off the wood plank cathedral ceiling and fix the WB differences in post. My 'wasted' shots when up front are mostly determining what angle to set on the flash for best illumination of those at the rear.

Then there's the other side of 'group' photography...checking the facial expressions of most of the people for lack of interest, screwy 'look', playing with their cell phone, eyes closed, etc. But that you don't see until post. For that reason, I typically take about 10-12 shots from each side 'up front', and keep 1 or 2 total of the 20 or so taken.

edit: Almost forgot...use a monopod if you can to steady things!
 

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