Saturday, August 10, 2013

Gaining Trust, Even For a Short Time, Leads to Better People Pictures

Photographers are sometimes perceived negatively by those they're photographing, especially when they are anonymous, unfamiliar to the subject. I thoroughly enjoy street photography, and frequently do shoot images of people in public, without any discussion or introduction. At other times, I do choose to introduce myself, talk a little, and gain a level of trust that eases the subect just a little.
Each approach yields a different type of image. The anonymous approach shows people living their lives, without the influence of the photographer's presence. Genuine expressions and interactions are possible. Talking makes a connection, however slight, between the photographer and subject. Sometimes this connection can show through in the image.
I shot the two images below in Harlem, New York City.
Sunday Morning Game of Catch, by Reed A. George
Nikon D700, Nikkor 24-85mm f2.8-4 Zoom Lens
On this particular morning, I was on a photo walk with Marla Mossman. Marla is a master of approaching people in the street, establishing rapport, and getting their picture. I learned so much more from her than how to think about depth of field, which happens to be the most consistently-discussed topic in photo workshops, in my experience.
(Click Here) to see Marla's work. If you get the chance to meet her, take it.
There's a nice entry on the NY Times photo blog, Lens, about this subject.
(Click Here) to read about how Demetrius Freeman, a contemporary photographer, learned from looking at Gordon Parks' photos about establishing connection with his subjects. Mr. Parks' photo of Ingrid Bergman (included in the post) is stunning.