Getting lots of wierd looks and attention from taking pics in public

Started Jan 10, 2013 | Discussions thread
Greg Nold
Regular MemberPosts: 178
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Re: Getting lots of wierd looks and attention from taking pics in public
In reply to Cameranoobie, Jan 13, 2013

I am fascinated with shooting folks in the street or at events, and I therefore do this all the time.  I'm not an expert or a pro, and my photos are not always keepers, but I'll tell you what seems to work for me, at least in the 'people-handling' sense.

The best approach I've found is to be open about what you are doing.  If you look like you're a photographer on an assignment, people will assume you are and think nothing of it.  For the folks that do ask,"Where will these photos be published?"  I suggest you have a previously thought-out answer.  What I usually say is, "These photos will end up in any publication that wants to use them" (which is a total a fib) "I'm a free-lance photographer covering this event, and they may end up in The Post, The Gazette or wherever... or maybe nobody will want them at all."  What I do NOT say is that they will end up in my personal gallery or on my Facebook page.  Yes I have a right to shoot in public but I can't expect to win any friendships if I get snotty about that right.  I'd rather say something which sets their minds at ease than raise the hackles on their necks.

On only rare occasions have I ever had someone ask me to delete their photo.  I was glad to oblige.  I pulled up the photo on my camera and even offered to let them press the little 'trash can' button.  Only one person ever did... the other two folks, after seeing their photos, smiled and said, 'Oh, that's not so bad!' and just let me keep it.  Being friendly goes a long way with 99% of the folks you shoot!

Another great thing is shooting at public events... people more or less expect to be photographed, and many are thrilled to clown it up for the camera... sometimes that's a bad thing, but often it can be a great thing! On the city sidewalks, you must be more careful.  For me, I value my schnoz more than I value a photo... I often ask myself, 'so what if I am successful photographing this person... will it really be a 'winner' of a photograph?  Is it really worth invading his space and raising his ire?'  I had one photograph of a man who's expression was so violent toward me that it scared me to look at it later... It was a worthless photo anyway and I risked my face to get it... NOT worth it.

When shooting children, caution is the word.  I make it very clear that I am not trying to be stealthy about shooting children.  I smile, I'm in the scene, and make a point to smile and converse with parents.  I'll say, "Gosh, what a little cutie.. you mind if I get some pics?"  I also have a card on hand with just my email address... nothing else on it... to give them so they can connect with me later if they want to see the photo (seems only right.)  Don't photograph individual children without permission... that's my rule at least.  Parents are very proud of their kids, and if they they you are honorable (which I am) they are more than happy to let you photograph them!  And it is FUN! 

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