Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Fear of Street Photography? I Don't Have It, But I Understand It.

 
The Smile, by Reed A. George
The Smile, Greenwich Village, NYC, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summicron 50mm f2
iso 320, f5.6, 1/125 sec
 
I don't have a fear of taking photographs of people on the street. Of course, there are situations where I decide that someone may react negatively, and in those cases, I don't take the shot. In general, though, I don't have much problem with it.
 
I seem to alternate between taking candids of people without talking to them, as in the shot above, and other times like to talk and get permission. The two approaches give very different feelings. Here's one where I asked permission, taken within less than a block of "The Smile:"
 
Hipster Glasses, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Leica Summicron 50mm f2
iso 320, f6.7, 1/125 sec
 
I like both of these images, and really neither one better than the other.
 
If you do suffer from anxiety about shooting street photography, you may want to read a recent post by Jim Maher on digital-photography-school.com.
 
(Click Here) to read Jim's post. He's also advertising an eBook. I haven't ordered it, but I may give it a try. I don't know Jim, or have any connection to him or his book sales.
 
Jim suggests seven steps to help get comfortable with street photography:
 
  1. Street portraiture (ask permission) - We've already discussed this one.
  2. Pick a spot and let them come to you - This is a good strategy, but I don't find it any less confrontational than walking and scouting.
  3. Use a small, wide angle lens - I agree that small lenses are less threatening. Be careful with the wide angle part, though. They require you to get very close to your subjects. For street, I generally prefer a 50mm lens, or 35mm at the widest, unless I really feel like getting up close to people.
  4. Shoot from the Hip - Yeah, that can work very well. It won't help you get over your fear, though.
  5. Pretend you're shooting something else - I do this all the time. Good technique.
  6. Be confident - Hmm. Okay. At least, don't look like a stalker or a spy; people will notice you.
  7. Choose your subjects carefully - Sure. Of course.
So, get out there and give it a try! The worst I've ever had to do was delete a shot for someone. And that was because I didn't feel strongly enough to stand up for my rights. And, the shot wasn't that good anyway... DMC-365.blogspot.com