Street photography without pissing people off?

Discussion in 'Street' started by dehk, Sep 9, 2010.

  1. dehk

    dehk Member

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    Read and tried enough things here and there. Tell me how do you take photos of complete strangers on the street without pissing people off, or how to blend in a way that they don't even notice you. Especially using a wider angle lens. For me, 8 out of 10 times I'll get the cold stare, or, they have that look in the eye which I know if I take a photo of them they're gonna go crazy on you. So my question is, how do you stick a camera in someones face without them picking a fight with you?
     
  2. Sirius Glass

    Sirius Glass Subscriber

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    Switch to landscape and architectural photography.
     
  3. dehk

    dehk Member

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    Nah, got bored with landscape that's why I'm picking fights with people on the street nowadays apparently. I don't know how many people it takes to take me down, but i do know how many they're gonna use.
     
  4. andrewkirkby

    andrewkirkby Member

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    A) small camera
    B) don't think about what people think.
     
  5. David William White

    David William White Member

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    Lots here on that and ethics thereof. Briefly, wide angle is obviously easier. But you can 'get permission' by making eye contact and moving your trigger finger up and down and 'ask' silently. Or like Winogrand, be ready, shoot fast & keep moving so they don't know or aren't sure it ever happened. Self-timer can be helpful, too. Or you can approach, tell them what you see, and enlist their help. All depends on the circumstances and how much of a people-person you are.
     
  6. dehk

    dehk Member

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    Good point, smaller camera does help i noticed. People react less to my Olympus Pen than my SLRs on the street.

    Sometimes I can't help to think about what people think. For example if i am going to photograph a bum on the street, I can't help but to think what he'll do, "is he crazy enough to get mad and chase me down the street?" haha. Or better yet, when I'm in the hood.
     
  7. Adam Podstawczyński

    Adam Podstawczyński Member

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    Just don't do that. Don't walk around shooting people without asking. Random street shooters are perceived as obnoxious and inconsiderate people by most, and there is a reason to that. If you want to capture their faces looking at yourself this way, go ahead -- why bother not to piss them off?
     
  8. dehk

    dehk Member

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    I really like the idea of making eye contact and moving my trigger finger up and down and ask silently. That I will try, Thank You.
     
  9. dehk

    dehk Member

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    Yes i do understand when you say "Random street shooters are perceived as obnoxious and inconsiderate people by most". I guess if i didn't state my point clearly, my point is to capture people naturally without them giving me the cold look. That's why I'm trying to gather thoughts on this subject and maybe able to 'appear' less obnoxious.
     
  10. andrewkirkby

    andrewkirkby Member

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    It depends on what you are trying to capture at the end of the day. Often if you are photographing a split second of expression that can't be duplicated in a posed photo you don't have a choice.

    If you're taking a photo of a bum as you so eloquently put it- speak to them, find out why they are there- connect with your subject and then capture the emotion as you notice it.

    If you are taking pictures of people on the street you are bound to get people fired up. Search YouTube for street shots Bruce Gilden. You will see what I mean.
     
  11. dehk

    dehk Member

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    Bruce Gilden, That was really interesting. Don't think I'll ever do what he does. I mean being a photographer myself if he come up and does that to me with a flash on the street even myself will punch him in his face, haha... Interesting character.
     
  12. Adam Podstawczyński

    Adam Podstawczyński Member

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    Oh, I see. You mean you want to walk around in the street shooting people and pretending you are not there. The ideal solution would be to have an invisibility cloak, but that's future. More practical solution for today is to disguise as a walking advertisement, make a hole in one or both boards, and stick the lens through the hole.

    I'm being sarcastic only because I don't get the point of photographing people in a way they don't notice you. Golden days of voyeuristic photography are gone, and remember that photography is interaction, not action. You are shooting people, not game.
     
  13. dehk

    dehk Member

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    Got it :smile:
     
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  15. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    You might try this.

    Select a very quiet camera with a wide angle lens. One with a leaf shutter works great. Attach a neck strap to the camera. Set the hyperfocal distance on the lens. Note the minimum distance. Hang the camera around your neck. Attach an air bulb shutter release. Run the air hose behind the camera and under and through your clothing into a jacket or sweater pocket. Set the shutter. Stick your hands into your pockets. Casually walk around in public maintaining at least the noted minimum distance from any potential subjects. When you find something interesting, mentally compose the frame by turning your entire body. Then look away just before you squeeze the bulb. Casually exit the scene and rewind.

    I've done this with both a Canonet QL17 G-III and a Yashica MAT-124G TLR. Both have leaf shutters. Never had a single confrontation as not a single subject was ever aware they had been photographed. Even up close.

    A side benefit of the TLR is that almost every photo has the subject looking directly into the lens. Not because they suspected. Rather because they had never before seen a TLR and were staring at it. Nice.

    Ken
     
  16. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Depends, I suppose. I tend to seek out people who don't know I'm photographing them. I absolutely don't want the individuals to inject my presence into their reactions. That ruins everything for me.

    YMMV, of course.

    This also does place a tremendous ethical responsibility on me to never intentionally depict someone in a bad or compromising context. As a practical matter it also normally precludes obtaining model releases. But I do this only as an avocation, so that doesn't come into play for me.

    Ken
     
  17. faustotesta

    faustotesta Member

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    Sometimes i try this.
    I focus a part that is above the subject and start looking at it.
    When the subject looks at my camera undertsands that i want to take a picture to something else.
    Keep your eye attached to the camera; wait the moment your subject is not concentrated on you and fire. It works
     
  18. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    If you ask them it's pointless because it's no longer candid the whole point of street shooting is to capture people unaware going about their normal lives, once they notice you and they start posing you've blown it.
     
  19. neilpcraven

    neilpcraven Member

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    Or just a really long lens?
     
  20. Adam Podstawczyński

    Adam Podstawczyński Member

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    You've blown it, or you've nailed it, depending on what you're after.
     
  21. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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  22. Jesper

    Jesper Subscriber

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    Using a TLR with a waist level finder is often perceived as less threatening than using a camera at eye level.
    They are more likely to ignore you than if you are carrying 2kg of SLR.
    In my experience old and "funny" looking cameras will make people more relaxed around you.
     
  23. darkosaric

    darkosaric Subscriber

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    Oh, this is great :smile:! thanks for sharing this.
     
  24. guitstik

    guitstik Member

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    A TLR with a WLF, any rangefinder like the canonet QL17 GIII or try an Exakta with a WLF. I use all of these and have been successful at getting great candid street shots because most of the time people don't even notice when I am looking down into a WLF. They probably don't even recognize them as cameras. Most rangefinders are very quiet and unobtrusive enough that you can take a shot and people don't even realize it. Anytime people have confronted me about taking pictures of them, I tell them that I am taking random shots of the area and that they just happened to ruin my shot by walking into the frame.
     
  25. jamesgignac

    jamesgignac Member

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    To keep it brief:
    I love WLF for shooting the streets - I'm sure this has been brought up by someone else by now but if not it's a great option.

    Wide angle lenses are nice - usually you can look at something in the distance as if you're lining up a shot of that with a telephoto and then snap away - I've done this a lot over here in China.

    Another thing I've done is to wait on a busy street lining up a shot of a building and waiting for the right person or group of people moving in an interesting way in front of it as they pass by. Most people wont notice - again a wide angle lens is nice here - you can shoot the building and some fascinating characters in front of it.

    When you say 'stick a camera in camera in someone's face...' I hope you don't mean that literally - if you want the candid street photo look then this will never work. That being said you can certainly take photos of people if you don't mind talking to them...but it really depends on your intentions here. Most people don't mind if an interesting person finds them interesting as well and asks to take a photo...this is my experience anyhow.

    For the 'people of the street' (ie the homeless) it's a good idea to talk to them first, during, and after. I did a project on 'bums' in highschool and it was a great challenge at first but became very comfortable. I traveled to different cities around Canada around that time and hung out and photographed a number of the street folk - I usually offered them a cigarette and we were able to shoot the breeze and enjoy the process together. I definitely recommend it, and the next time you see them I'm sure they'll give you a warm smile and wave. I was later able to track some of them down and give them some finished prints - this made them VERY happy and I got a couple of good hugs and handshakes out of it.

    So you can be discrete and shoot without people knowing or try to be slightly obnoxious in your outgoing attitude and see what happens - chances are the more outgoing you are the more attention you will attract from other outgoing people - try to get people to notice you - if people stare for more than a couple of seconds it's a good way entry for you to ask them if you can shoot them.

    That's my ¥2.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 9, 2010
  26. andrewkirkby

    andrewkirkby Member

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    It's awesome.

    The related Bruce Gilden videos are good too...