Thinking about what to write about for todays photography tip, I decided to talk about something that is a new experience for me. There is a well bandied about quotation by the great war photographer Robert Capa that goes something like if the people in your photographs don’t look big enough then get closer. Now that it seems is easier said than done so how do you go about it? There are many methods for photographing people unawares, stealth approaches and perhaps I will discuss them another day. Today I want to talk about the direct approach.
I saw these guys in the street in Oxford last week and asked them if I could photograph them, they didn’t even hesitate!
Recently I have found myself in a situation where there is a person or a group of people that I want to photograph, I don’t want to miss the oppurtunity and I cannot photograph them unobserved. Or it seems to me that I will get a better image if I ask their permission. When I started photographing in the street I was terrified of being noticed, I felt like a bit of a voyeur, a bit of an intruder. Nowadays I don’t feel so self conscious and I know there is nothing wrong with being curious about people in the street and I don’t feel there is anything wrong with photographing them either. So one day I took the plunge and asked this very nice lady in Dublin if I could photograph her and her dog. She said yes! since then I have asked lots of people and not once have I been refused. The day somebody declines I will not be offended, I will say thank you very politely and move on to next person.
May with her dog Teddy Boy outside St Stephens Green, Dublin.
So my tip for today, my challenge to you, is to pluck up the courage, build a bridge, be polite, pay a stranger a compliment and ask them if you can take their picture. If they decline don’t take offense or take it personally just say thank you and look for someone else. Its such a great feeling when you actually do it that if you do it once you’ll probably find you will do it again and again. Now I am thinking of doing a series of street portraits. If you try it do let me know how you get on! Maybe I will set up a board on Pinterest where we can share our images??
A juggler in Oxford. I wanted to photograph him but figured it would be better to ask.