aiming camera at strangers in the streets...

Started Apr 23, 2012 | Discussions
kevin camera
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aiming camera at strangers in the streets...
Apr 23, 2012

Hi guys,

I own an Xpro 1 and would like to try some street shooting. tried to aim at a stranger wearing interesting clothes off the street but decided not to last minute since i am not sure if they are comfortable with me aiming the camera at them.

also passed by a park, decided to not to take any pictures since i didn't want look like a pedo.

any suggestions from those who take random pics of strangers on the streets?

would like to get some feedback/suggestions

thanks...

CriticalI
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Re: aiming camera at strangers in the streets...
In reply to kevin camera, Apr 23, 2012

It's a common issue and one frequently talked about. I generally give them a nod and a smile and gesture with the camera and if they look cool about it, I will shoot them. If they avoid eye contact or look annoyed I generally don't.

I seldom shoot people from close range anyway - I like people in the background or to add scale but I seldom shoot them directly or so they fill the frame. That way they are seldom in the shot centre and don't always realise they are in the shot at all, especially with a WA lens.

kevin camera wrote:

Hi guys,

I own an Xpro 1 and would like to try some street shooting. tried to aim at a stranger wearing interesting clothes off the street but decided not to last minute since i am not sure if they are comfortable with me aiming the camera at them.

also passed by a park, decided to not to take any pictures since i didn't want look like a pedo.

any suggestions from those who take random pics of strangers on the streets?

would like to get some feedback/suggestions

thanks...

-- hide signature --

Regards,
Steve

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harold1968
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Re: aiming camera at strangers in the streets...
In reply to kevin camera, Apr 23, 2012

Its very difficult

In my view it depends on the merit of the picture

I personaly don't like exploitative pictures just for the effect, e.g. tramps, girls wearing revealing clothes, etc.

I always ask myself, would I mind being in the picture ?

I usually use live view and holding the camera at hip height, although sometimes I do hold at eye level, depending on circumstances. This is why I am enjoying street photography with the xpro-1 more then the M9, as it has no live view

kevin camera wrote:

Hi guys,

I own an Xpro 1 and would like to try some street shooting. tried to aim at a stranger wearing interesting clothes off the street but decided not to last minute since i am not sure if they are comfortable with me aiming the camera at them.

also passed by a park, decided to not to take any pictures since i didn't want look like a pedo.

any suggestions from those who take random pics of strangers on the streets?

would like to get some feedback/suggestions

thanks...

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pkincy
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Re: aiming camera at strangers in the streets...
In reply to harold1968, Apr 23, 2012

Here is an interesting blog that has made the blogger famous as well as well respected.

http://www.thesartorialist.com

He started taking pictures of people in NY wearing interesting clothing (I suppose fashion is a better word).

As he has progressed over the years, he has gotten much better at engaging his subjects.

Perry

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brudy
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Re: aiming camera at strangers in the streets...
In reply to kevin camera, Apr 23, 2012

It can be difficult to get up the nerve, and I agree with the above poster about whether it's worth it sometimes. I never want to seem (or feel) exploitative or pervy. I don't shoot homeless people because I ask myself to what end? So they can end up on my flickr? If I were a working photographer or doing some kind of project I could maybe justify it, but not as some guy who enjoys photography.

There are techniques in terms of zone focusing, shooting from the hip, use wide angle lenses, etc that can help get the shot without being too apparent. I do feel that usually if I say anything ahead of time the moment is then lost so personally it seems better to shoot first and smile later. Google something like street photography technique. You'll get more results than you have time to read.

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teohyc
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Re: aiming camera at strangers in the streets...
In reply to pkincy, Apr 23, 2012

pkincy wrote:

Here is an interesting blog that has made the blogger famous as well as well respected.

http://www.thesartorialist.com

He started taking pictures of people in NY wearing interesting clothing (I suppose fashion is a better word).

As he has progressed over the years, he has gotten much better at engaging his subjects.

Perry

He always ask in advance for his subjects to pose.

Watch this documentary.

http://vimeo.com/18624866

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Zarniwoop1985
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Re: aiming camera at strangers in the streets...
In reply to kevin camera, Apr 23, 2012

Ahh yes, the perennial street shooters dilemma.

Here are my thoughts (not in any order)

1) to shoot good close-up street photography takes confidence and confidence comes from...taking street shots! The more you shoot the more confident you'll get

2) if you're not confident then it will show in your body language, and may send the wrong message to the people your shooting. i.e. that you're up to no good of some sort! Confidence - or a confident (but not arrogant) approach and body language shows others that you know what you are doing. You've done it before. They are then less likely to question it

3) If you are in a foreign country and on the streets, and it is safe etc, then you will feel confident shooting because it will be obvious that you are a tourist/traveler and foreign etc. That helps! In London, say, if you're in some non tourist place with a big camera shooting away, and you don't look like a tourist, people are more likely to wonder what you are shooting. That is where being confident helps!

4) Try shooting in tourist places initially. if I was starting out in London i'd go to Piccadilly Circus, Soho, covent Garden etc and get lost amongst the tourists. It'll be much easier for you to shoot when you are surrounded by other photographers, or are in areas that are widely photographed by tourists.

5) Practice shooting from the waist or hip without lifting the camera. Use a wide angle lens with large depth of field. Crop later if you want. Pre-focus (zone/ hyperfocal distance method)

6) Smile. Don't appear nervous. Look purposeful. Shoot and move on.

7) It's more harder to to walk up to a stranger in London, lift your camera and shoot their picture from close up, then say in India for example. It's much easier to do that in other countries because you're a tourist! And people in other countries tend to be less - how can I put it - less likely to react negatively. In London you can always ask permission. But then it will be a posed shot and some people find asking permission uncomfortable unless you can answer the question they will inevitably ask you: why do you want to take my photograph? Answer: Because you look cool/I like what you're wearing etc. It might work!

8) Use the smallest camera you can get away with for your style of shooting.

9) Wrap the camera around your wrist. Don't have it dangling from your neck. Or buy a 'Black Rapid RS-7' strap.

Be confident! I know, I know, I keep saying it - but a lot of the issues that prevent people from doing street photography are psychological. They exist inside your head rather than 'out there'.

Most importantly enjoy your street photography!

Chao,
http://www.duluxdreams.wordpress.com

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oistar
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Re: aiming camera at strangers in the streets...
In reply to kevin camera, Apr 23, 2012

Shooting from the hip or shooting with a zoom are methods which pretty much destroy most photos. Zoomed photos look flat and contain little background. Photos from the hip must be cropped, often are blurry, most of the times shot at an awkward angle, most often don't contain what you intended to shoot.

The best photos i personally have take were from the 'eye' with a normal lens 35-60.

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Digart
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Re: aiming camera at strangers in the streets...
In reply to kevin camera, Apr 23, 2012

I shoot with a relative small/compact camera with a wide angle lens that has a reticulating LCD screen that is useful when shooting from the waist. This eliminates any problems with eye contact between you and subject. See photo below!

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Digart

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Ryan Seyeau
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Be Persistent...
In reply to kevin camera, Apr 23, 2012

Beyond anything, I would recommend being persistent. Shoot street enough and eventually you won’t feel as self conscious when pointing your lens at a stranger. I notice that when I’m absent from the scene for too long I become rusty and it’s difficult to get into the rhythm of things – at least for me, I revert back to feeling self conscious.

When starting out, you may feel more comfortable shooting from the hip. It may not be your style and your success rate might be abysmal, but it could act as an introduction to shooting people. For myself, I prefer candid shots so I don’t recommend getting permission first. You can also work toward getting closer to your subject. Start by photographing people across the street, then down the road, and finally at close proximity. If someone questions why you photographed them, don’t hesitate to talk about what you’re doing, and show them the photograph. For myself, I fall short from deleting the photo. You may feel otherwise.

I do a fair amount of street – feel free to visit my flickr stream if you were interested in seeing samples. http://www.flickr.com/photos/throughpaintedeyes

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NeroBianco
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Re: aiming camera at strangers in the streets...
In reply to Zarniwoop1985, Apr 23, 2012

Zarniwoop1985 wrote:

Ahh yes, the perennial street shooters dilemma.

Here are my thoughts (not in any order)

1) to shoot good close-up street photography takes confidence and confidence comes from...taking street shots! The more you shoot the more confident you'll get

2) if you're not confident then it will show in your body language, and may send the wrong message to the people your shooting. i.e. that you're up to no good of some sort! Confidence - or a confident (but not arrogant) approach and body language shows others that you know what you are doing. You've done it before. They are then less likely to question it

3) If you are in a foreign country and on the streets, and it is safe etc, then you will feel confident shooting because it will be obvious that you are a tourist/traveler and foreign etc. That helps! In London, say, if you're in some non tourist place with a big camera shooting away, and you don't look like a tourist, people are more likely to wonder what you are shooting. That is where being confident helps!

4) Try shooting in tourist places initially. if I was starting out in London i'd go to Piccadilly Circus, Soho, covent Garden etc and get lost amongst the tourists. It'll be much easier for you to shoot when you are surrounded by other photographers, or are in areas that are widely photographed by tourists.

5) Practice shooting from the waist or hip without lifting the camera. Use a wide angle lens with large depth of field. Crop later if you want. Pre-focus (zone/ hyperfocal distance method)

6) Smile. Don't appear nervous. Look purposeful. Shoot and move on.

7) It's more harder to to walk up to a stranger in London, lift your camera and shoot their picture from close up, then say in India for example. It's much easier to do that in other countries because you're a tourist! And people in other countries tend to be less - how can I put it - less likely to react negatively. In London you can always ask permission. But then it will be a posed shot and some people find asking permission uncomfortable unless you can answer the question they will inevitably ask you: why do you want to take my photograph? Answer: Because you look cool/I like what you're wearing etc. It might work!

8) Use the smallest camera you can get away with for your style of shooting.

9) Wrap the camera around your wrist. Don't have it dangling from your neck. Or buy a 'Black Rapid RS-7' strap.

Be confident! I know, I know, I keep saying it - but a lot of the issues that prevent people from doing street photography are psychological. They exist inside your head rather than 'out there'.

Most importantly enjoy your street photography!

Chao,
http://www.duluxdreams.wordpress.com

And to see how that might look in practice have a look at Garry Winogrand
http://youtu.be/FJgJtmnt_HI

wonderful hesitant fumbling act with his Leica

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Vic Chapman
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Re: aiming camera at strangers in the streets...
In reply to kevin camera, Apr 23, 2012

As already said, avoid exploitative pictures but otherwise, if people are wearing clothing for "effect", then they will most likely be happy to have their picture taken.
Vic
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obv
obv
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Re: aiming camera at strangers in the streets...
In reply to Zarniwoop1985, Apr 23, 2012

Zarniwoop1985 wrote:

9) Wrap the camera around your wrist. Don't have it dangling from your neck. Or buy a 'Black Rapid RS-7' strap.

Interesting. Why not? I do this a lot (let the camera dangle from my neck) and I find it feels way less awkward.

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Zarniwoop1985
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Re: aiming camera at strangers in the streets...
In reply to obv, Apr 23, 2012

obv wrote:

Zarniwoop1985 wrote:

9) Wrap the camera around your wrist. Don't have it dangling from your neck. Or buy a 'Black Rapid RS-7' strap.

Interesting. Why not? I do this a lot (let the camera dangle from my neck) and I find it feels way less awkward.

Just a personal preference. In the end whatever makes you most comfortable!

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unknown member
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Re: Be Persistent...
In reply to Ryan Seyeau, Apr 23, 2012

This guy looks so p!issed off at having a camera pointed at him. Exactly what I try to avoid shooting street. Also, he isnt doing anything at all interesting.

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Zarniwoop1985
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Re: Be Persistent...
In reply to rattymouse, Apr 23, 2012

By the way. Since we are on the topic of street photography. Check this out. It;s on a chinese website but it is in English.

Just click on the link and let it play automatically

Enjoy!

http://v.youku.com/v_show/id_XMzAyMDYzNTY4.html

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Zarniwoop1985
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Re: Be Persistent...
In reply to Zarniwoop1985, Apr 23, 2012

Ans here's another interesting vid on street photography!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=J9vI79uflMY

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Ryan Seyeau
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Re: Be Persistent...
In reply to rattymouse, Apr 23, 2012

He wasn't upset at all actually. I smiled and nodded, and we were on our way. Also why do you censor yourself when shooting street? If you're only going for happy and cheery it sounds as though you live in an awfully one-dimentional world. Sounds unfortunate.

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Weistling
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Re: aiming camera at strangers in the streets...
In reply to kevin camera, Apr 23, 2012

I used to use a Sony a55 and would shoot at waist level. I was trying to avoid the action of raising the camera to my eye which seems to set off bells. But I decided to adapt a new technique with the XP1. Since so much of my face still shows when shooting I have been using the secret weapon of the smile. But the best way to do it is to smile the entire time you are out in the streets. Just look pleasant. I have to often fake this at first and then eventually I actually just starting feeling happier and it gets easier. It's shocking how well this works. I believe I look like a goofball and maybe a little mentally off because most people don't smile out there. But if even if they see you coming with a smile on your face people let down their guard. I shoot , still smiling, bring down my camera, still smiling, and almost every time and get a smile back. Usually they are thinking," Poor guy, he's touched in the head, just taking random pictures with his old-timey camera, at least he's happy". When I used to shoot at the hip and get caught, it was more like I was creepy. I have more fun now.
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Zarniwoop1985
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Re: aiming camera at strangers in the streets...
In reply to Weistling, Apr 23, 2012

Lol! Excellent! I can imagine how smiling would work. Because what it tells people is that you are lost in your own little world of photography. Maybe a little quirky. And they do let their guard down because by smiling you're almost displaying a childish side. A childish side people generally grow out of as they get older! And this is not a threat. A smile goes a long way.

In addition to smiling a lot, the other thing you can do, is look around a lot. As if anything and everything is of interest: tops of buildings, railings, paving stones, the sky etc. Obviously I don't mean behaving like you have Tourettes syndrome but looking as if you are super aware.

Well, I suppose, you shouldn't have to 'pretend' these things:

1) You should be smiling anyway as you are enjoying yourself
2) You should be looking around as you are a street photographer

:-))))))))))))))

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