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View Full Version : Question on urban candids...


namasste
18th of September 2007 (Tue), 14:14
Maybe not even a question, maybe I just need to vent that I am so hung up about this issue. I work in an urban area (downtown Cleveland) and there's lots of cool stuff to shoot but what I really want to try are some b/w candids. I have seen so many people that I'd love to shoot (pics of course!) but just feel so awkward taking their picture. I have no problem engaging them first but I am pretty fearful that I will insult them if I ask to take a shot. I feel like by asking, I am implying that there is something about them that I feel is different enough to warrant a shot. Some might not care, but others might find it very insulting. I don't want to cause anyone to feel hurt or humiliated because I asked.

Anyone with experience in this help me out a bit?

Livinthalife
18th of September 2007 (Tue), 14:18
well there are no laws about "shooting" someone in public, but I understand your wanting to be professional and respectful. Good traits to have. Anyways, what I would do, is use a telephoto. If you plan on selling that's a different story. I have personally have always done this without asking permission. I like the natural look, or unsuspecting look. Then again, I'm not selling these either.

If you ask, I feel you lose that "candid" moment. That's my opinion. Hope it helps a bit.

namasste
18th of September 2007 (Tue), 14:32
well there are no laws about "shooting" someone in public, but I understand your wanting to be professional and respectful. Good traits to have. Anyways, what I would do, is use a telephoto. If you plan on selling that's a different story. I have personally have always done this without asking permission. I like the natural look, or unsuspecting look. Then again, I'm not selling these either.

If you ask, I feel you lose that "candid" moment. That's my opinion. Hope it helps a bit.

Thanks it does. I've read quite a few threads on this and while I get the point that we are creating and should stand our ground, I don't want to do it at someone's expense. I have no fear of the confrontation if there were one, but most of what I find interesting, the subjects find upsetting. Homeless, things of that nature you know? I just don't want to be responsible for making the day even worse for someone who is already pretty down on their luck.

Livinthalife
18th of September 2007 (Tue), 15:10
Ah okay I understand. Why don't you give them a few bucks for being your subject. No need to explain yourself, as it may provoke a confrontation.

spork
18th of September 2007 (Tue), 15:52
Ask. If this is still uncomfortable, then visit them without your camera first and spend some time with them. Get to know them as they are still people. Then ask if you can come by later and take some pix. Have some ones and fives ready or bring some food and water. Be very respectful and don't push. Working with the homeless is some of the hardest work you'll ever do. No offense, but let me ask you what are your reasons? aesthetic or other?

namasste
18th of September 2007 (Tue), 16:06
Ask. If this is still uncomfortable, then visit them without your camera first and spend some time with them. Get to know them as they are still people. Then ask if you can come by later and take some pix. Have some ones and fives ready or bring some food and water. Be very respectful and don't push. Working with the homeless is some of the hardest work you'll ever do. No offense, but let me ask you what are your reasons? aesthetic or other?

Good advice. My reasons are really both. I think it makes for very interesting work to show sides of life that are often unseen. It can be very dramatic from an aesthetic pov. Same probably holds true for any photography (macro work, dramatic landscapes...all of it shows the viewer something different than what they typically see if its effective imo). Beyond that, I think it brings to light the reality of many of the people in our very own communities here, a reality that is most likely drastically different than our own and one we would sometimes rather dismiss. Perhaps pictures will spur someone else to get involved in helping. I also think that it might be an opportunity to get to know some folks who really just need to know that they are not forgotten.

spork
18th of September 2007 (Tue), 17:10
Namasste :
Ok sounds good. So then I'd leave the long lenses at home. They can be very intimidating and make you come off as if you are working for National Geographic or are a cop. I don't take any large bulky gear like backpacks or camera bags to the street. Travel light -extra battery, a couple of media cards, small change and some snack bars. Also know your surroundings and keep mindful of what is behind you at all times but don't act paranoid. I don't take my 20d to the streets but have purchased an off brand digital slr because in my urban area a Canon can buy lotsa crack. I'm a quick drive from the world famous Skid Row which is full of some truly heinous misery. Areas like this the police won't even go into so keep that in mind as well.
It can be a real mind bending experience to see just how bad fellow humans are neglected and as such you're gonna feel pretty weird going back to your nice safe home afterward.
Good luck.

namasste
18th of September 2007 (Tue), 21:16
Namasste :
Ok sounds good. So then I'd leave the long lenses at home. They can be very intimidating and make you come off as if you are working for National Geographic or are a cop. I don't take any large bulky gear like backpacks or camera bags to the street. Travel light -extra battery, a couple of media cards, small change and some snack bars. Also know your surroundings and keep mindful of what is behind you at all times but don't act paranoid. I don't take my 20d to the streets but have purchased an off brand digital slr because in my urban area a Canon can buy lotsa crack. I'm a quick drive from the world famous Skid Row which is full of some truly heinous misery. Areas like this the police won't even go into so keep that in mind as well.
It can be a real mind bending experience to see just how bad fellow humans are neglected and as such you're gonna feel pretty weird going back to your nice safe home afterward.
Good luck.

right on Spork, thanks. Have gotten the chance to spend some time with a few of the Cleveland "locals" occasionally but they are just so transient that it's tough to build repoire to the point of being able to ask if I can shoot. I'll definitely post up once I get something usable and hopefully I'l have a good story to go along with it.

airfrogusmc
18th of September 2007 (Tue), 21:44
There are allot of documentary photographers that engaged their subjects got their permission and usually gave them a print.
http://www.art-dept.com/artists/davidson/
Check out East 100th St
Brooklyn Gang
Time of Change
I saw him speak when Subway was his new book. AMAZING WORK.
Dorothea Lange
http://lakelandschools.org/wphs/erichsen/grapesofwrath/grapes%20images/aa_lange_power_2_e.jpg
Walker Evans
http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.masters-of-fine-art-photography.com/02/artphotogallery/database/evans01.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.masters-of-fine-art-photography.com/02/artphotogallery/photographers/walker_evans_01.html&h=497&w=400&sz=22&tbnid=T-om_wOEX2o2-M:&tbnh=130&tbnw=105&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dwalker%2Bevans%26um%3D1&start=2&sa=X&oi=images&ct=image&cd=2

airfrogusmc
18th of September 2007 (Tue), 21:58
Scott heres a couple more of my favorite documentary photographers
Danny Lyon
http://www.mocp.org/collections/permanent/uploads/Lyon1983_125_9.jpg
http://www.ethertongallery.com/html/archive/gallery/crosscurrents/images/lyon.jpg
http://www.brown.edu/Facilities/David_Winton_Bell_Gallery/images/lyon_jack_small_im.jpg
http://imagecache2.allposters.com/images/pic/FOT/FFPOFP36~Crossing-the-Ohio-River-Posters.jpg
Robert Frank
http://web.mit.edu/21w.784/www/BD%20Supplementals/Materials/UnitOne/nyc.jpg
http://www.elangelcaido.org/fotografos/rfrank/rfrank01.jpg
http://images.artnet.com/artwork_images%5C423818140%5C202973.jpg
http://www.phillipsdepury.com/umbraco/ImageGen.aspx?Image=/lot_images/NY040007/18_001.jpg&AltImage=/lot_images/NY040007/18_002.jpg
http://www.elangelcaido.org/fotografos/rfrank/rfrank04.jpg

namasste
19th of September 2007 (Wed), 00:35
Scott heres a couple more of my favorite documentary photographers
Danny Lyon
http://www.mocp.org/collections/permanent/uploads/Lyon1983_125_9.jpg
http://www.ethertongallery.com/html/archive/gallery/crosscurrents/images/lyon.jpg
http://www.brown.edu/Facilities/David_Winton_Bell_Gallery/images/lyon_jack_small_im.jpg
http://imagecache2.allposters.com/images/pic/FOT/FFPOFP36~Crossing-the-Ohio-River-Posters.jpg (http://imagecache2.allposters.com/images/pic/FOT/FFPOFP36%7ECrossing-the-Ohio-River-Posters.jpg)
Robert Frank
http://web.mit.edu/21w.784/www/BD%20Supplementals/Materials/UnitOne/nyc.jpg
http://www.elangelcaido.org/fotografos/rfrank/rfrank01.jpg
http://images.artnet.com/artwork_images%5C423818140%5C202973.jpg
http://www.phillipsdepury.com/umbraco/ImageGen.aspx?Image=/lot_images/NY040007/18_001.jpg&AltImage=/lot_images/NY040007/18_002.jpg
http://www.elangelcaido.org/fotografos/rfrank/rfrank04.jpg

wow, you killed it on that response. thanks man, really.

SRPhotographic
19th of September 2007 (Wed), 12:47
I understand exactly what you're going through. When I first started working as a photojournalist for the local paper, I had to go up and ask people if I could take their picture. It was tough. It made me really really nervous. However, if I didn't ask them if it was okay and get their names, the photos could not run in the paper. I just swallowed my nerves and walked up to people. I stick out my hand, introduce myself, and explain in one sentence what I'm doing. I also smile- which helps a lot. I've had a few people decline, but I have yet to make anyone angry or upset. People are all pretty polite.

Once you get past your nerves it will open a lot of doors. I have no problem photographing anyone now and I have stopped missing opportunities because of fear.

namasste
19th of September 2007 (Wed), 14:05
I understand exactly what you're going through. When I first started working as a photojournalist for the local paper, I had to go up and ask people if I could take their picture. It was tough. It made me really really nervous. However, if I didn't ask them if it was okay and get their names, the photos could not run in the paper. I just swallowed my nerves and walked up to people. I stick out my hand, introduce myself, and explain in one sentence what I'm doing. I also smile- which helps a lot. I've had a few people decline, but I have yet to make anyone angry or upset. People are all pretty polite.

Once you get past your nerves it will open a lot of doors. I have no problem photographing anyone now and I have stopped missing opportunities because of fear.

thanks for that. I will definitely use that technique. It might be after since I want candids but I think a quick shot followed by me approaching the person with a hand out, a smile, and perhaps something for them might do the trick. I also was thinking that I could then explain what I was doing and ask if they were okay with it, otherwise, I'd delete. I know some would say keep the shot but I'd never find any enjoyment from it if I thought I'd pissed someone off to get it.

McBride61
19th of September 2007 (Wed), 16:35
In San Francisco its polite to give the homeless a few bucks for a shot. I always have my debit card on me... :(