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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 27 Nov 2014 (Thursday) 10:44
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Street photography awkwardness...

 
jmai86
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Nov 27, 2014 10:44 |  #1

I enjoy street photography whenever I'm out and about on vacation or just hanging out on a weekend. Slices of life, just something I really enjoy casually capturing. Mostly just solitary figures though. I was at Disneyland the other day and was taking my usual shots: candid portraits, families, singles wandering about. I never take a photo if I think the subject is going to notice me though, I'm too self conscious to go that far. And I never tuck and hide trying to get a shot. I saw some kids playing with their families on a lawn and thought I'd take some candids of them too, and my friend got pretty awkward, trying to pull me away, like I was taking creepshots of kids! It wasn't like I was hiding in the bushes or anything, lol. Just some casual photos of compositions I found very moving.

Has anyone else had this issue come up with friends?
Have you ever taken a photo of strangers and have them see your photos on the internet?

I had a good haul of over a thousand photos over the trip, and really only a handful of kids and families enjoying the weather. :P




  
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sapearl
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Nov 27, 2014 10:51 |  #2

You have to understand that in this day and age a lot of parents are very protective of their young children. You could be totally innocent in your approach to this type of photography but they don't know you, your motivations, or how the pictures will be used. Likely your friend felt this may have been an issue with some of the parents.


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jmai86
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Nov 27, 2014 11:00 |  #3

Ahh yes I understand now. I had not considered that in my travels. I've always thought as long as I don't follow or lurk, or publish my photos, and just take casual photos as I'm on my own way, then it would be fine. I see street photography of kids by respected photographers often and it never occurred to me that there could be possible ethics issues.

I'll have to read more about that, and be more cautious in public!




  
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gonzogolf
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Nov 27, 2014 11:03 as a reply to  @ sapearl's post |  #4

You need to reread what you wrote from an objective perspective. You dont tale pjotos if you think you'll be noticed, and you are surprised that people might find that creepy? The fact that you stop when noticed sends a signal that you are uncomfortable on some level with what you are doing. Its a non sexual form of voyeurism. I think we all understand that some candid photos are better when the subject is unaware of the camera, but whatyouve described would lead people to conclude uou are embarrassed by what you are doing and that could belie an underlying creepiness.




  
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Tyguy
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Nov 27, 2014 11:09 |  #5

sapearl wrote in post #17296057 (external link)
You have to understand that in this day and age a lot of parents are very protective of their young children. You could be totally innocent in your approach to this type of photography but they don't know you, your motivations, or how the pictures will be used. Likely your friend felt this may have been an issue with some of the parents.

Exactly. Parents need to be very protective in today's world (maybe even more so than in yesterday's world). I'm not aware of how respected photographers go about this, but I know professionals who will not photograph a child until they have a parent's consent.

It is unfortunate for photographers. Kids acting like kids make for great photos.


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jmai86
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Nov 27, 2014 11:13 |  #6

I see where you're coming from and I see how that can be the takeaway from what I wrote. I'm not embarrassed by what I do; I just find that if I'm noticed, the candidness and the shot that I saw would be gone, and consequently not worth attempting at all. Perhaps I should clarify - street photo is not my objective when going out, it's just a casual if-I-see-it thing as I'm literally walking by.

Street photography IS voyeurism on a basic level though.

EDIT - I think I have my definition of "voyeurism" wrong after looking the word up and seeing "sexual" in almost all definitions. This is definitely not what I mean, yikes.




  
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gonzogolf
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Nov 27, 2014 11:21 |  #7

jmai86 wrote in post #17296096 (external link)
I see where you're coming from and I see how that can be the takeaway from what I wrote. I'm not embarrassed by what I do; I just find that if I'm noticed, the candidness and the shot that I saw would be gone, and consequently not worth attempting at all. Perhaps I should clarify - street photo is not my objective when going out, it's just a casual if-I-see-it thing as I'm literally walking by.

Street photography IS voyeurism on a basic level though.

Perhaps you should continue to shoot, snd even engage the subject afterward. It puts them at ease and it wipes away the stigma of the creepy stalker camera guy. You dont have use the non candid shots and it might lead to something more interesting. Street photography doesn't gave to be limited to unaware sniper shots. Lots of great street photography includes informal potrtaiure and engaged subjects.




  
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kf095
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Nov 27, 2014 11:35 as a reply to  @ gonzogolf's post |  #8

I never take a photo if I think the subject is going to notice me though, I'm too self conscious to go that far. And I never tuck and hide trying to get a shot. I saw some kids...

I'm trying to be as honest as Winogrand, Meyerowitz and other Greats. No hiding and giving no crap if I'm noticed.
It is one major step to be taken. You are afraid to be misinterpreted as creep, or you have nothing but finding these people to be worth at the picture.

I do take pictures in amusement parks, but not in thousands and I don't classify them as true "street".

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sapearl
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Nov 27, 2014 11:46 |  #9

gonzogolf wrote in post #17296109 (external link)
Perhaps you should continue to shoot, snd even engage the subject afterward. It puts them at ease and it wipes away the stigma of the creepy stalker camera guy. You dont have use the non candid shots and it might lead to something more interesting. Street photography doesn't gave to be limited to unaware sniper shots. Lots if grat street photography includes informal potrtaiure and engaged subjects.

Gonzo makes an excellent point here - much can be gained with pleasant and courteous conversation. It may even lead to other more visual opportunities.

I am a photographer AND a parent. If photographers are to empathize with their subjects they need to place themselves in their shoes. As a photographer I too am always looking for new and interesting opportunities. And as a photographer If I see another photog pointing his lens somewhere I assume he has similar visual or artistic interests.

But as a parent, if I see another photographer spending a lot of time and energy photographing my child, all I see is some total stranger taking a really intense interest in my child for unknown reasons. Our instinct is to protect so we assume the worst, that this is a potential threat, and we take appropriate measures.

People need to improve their social skills and communicate what they are doing. Too many folks have their faces buried in their phones and don't know how to open pleasant, friendly face to face conversation. Do this with a parent of a younger subject, discussing your goals and activities, and you may be surprised by the good will it can create.


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jmai86
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Nov 27, 2014 12:04 |  #10

Great points, thanks all. I had not considered any of this, as I never considered myself a serious photographer. I'm just very casual about taking photos if I happen to see something I come across.

I have gotten a bit more into street photography in the past year though, and with every trip I take more photos, and now I see that there are considerations that must be taken if I'm to "go deeper" into this. I do fully empathize with parents and privacy though, and I recognize that perhaps I was ignorant of these considerations on my last trip.

But yes, I agree people should be more willing to communicate. Maybe I justified to myself that I don't communicate because I'm not a "serious" photographer; the shots I see, I would love to get, but it's not a must for me, since the point of a trip is to enjoy my trip with friends, and not to take street photos. I don't go out of my way to invest time and energy into a shot. I recognize though that if I want to get better, and deeper into street photo, I'll have to do as advised here, and on some articles I'm reading.

I should clarify that the thousand photos I took at Disneyland and LA were mostly photos of scenery, selfies, and portraits of my friend though :D Maybe 100 or so were actual street-photo-y-things over the course of 4 days, alot of them with continuous burst of 2-3 frames.




  
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sapearl
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Nov 27, 2014 12:13 |  #11

kf095 wrote in post #17296139 (external link)
I'm trying to be as honest as Winogrand, Meyerowitz and other Greats. No hiding and giving no crap if I'm noticed.
It is one major step to be taken. You are afraid to be misinterpreted as creep, or you have nothing but finding these people to be worth at the picture.

I do take pictures in amusement parks, but not in thousands and I don't classify them as true "street".

QUOTED IMAGE

Very nicely done shot Konstantin! I love the contrasting visual "comings and goings" of your subjects. I think you timed it just right. Thanks for sharing ;).


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Nov 29, 2014 13:23 |  #12

My girlfriend has pulled my arm when I was getting ready to take a shot a few times, now she's let up a bit since I've been "caught" taking a picture of someone's kid before and when they noticed I just showed them the shot and said it was a great moment and they simply asked me if I could email them the shot.

I find that as long as you don't look like a creeper or act like one people are quick to let their assumptions or guard down and be fine with you taking a shot of them or their family. I've had somebody ask me to delete a picture once and they were very kind about it, so I was happy to oblige.

Don't be afraid of confrontation as a photographer, it'll inevitably happen at some point in todays society, but if you have nothing sinister to hide, then don't hide... just be honest.

The only person so far I've ever had be mean about me taking a shot was a police officer in DC. I took a shot of him by his squad car blocking a road because I liked the composition and the expression on his face and then I continued to walk down the street (was using my X-E1 which is far from conspicuous looking). I then heard "Excuse me, stop right there" from behind me, so I did. He then gave me a bunch of BS about how I "couldn't do that" in regards to taking pictures of officers or government vehicles. I kept asking him (very calmly and politely, always referring to him as "officer") to tell me which law I was breaking so I could look into it when I got home and he only kept repeating how "You can't do that" and getting right up 6" from my face. Ultimately I gave up and just deleted the picture since my friends were getting nervous... but the whole thing made me sick... so much for the 1st amendment. The thing that really got me was a woman was walking by snapping pics of literally everything on her iPad at the same time this was all happening :rolleyes:


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MattPharmD
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Dec 03, 2014 10:04 |  #13

I generally reserve street photography for times when I am by myself, so I have never experienced the awkwardness of friends. I have had plenty of interactions with parents, police, subjects, and strangers. Interactions with subjects and strangers are usually good (or neutral) because of the way I carry myself, I think. Police seem to more likely be suspicious, but I have learned the right words to say most of the time. I have only had one really bad interaction with a parent. I wasn't actually taking pictures of his kids, but I couldn't convince him of that. I had to abandon talking and had to quickly leave as he was more than a little aggressive.

I think with street you just have to be comfortable with what you are doing and carry yourself in a way that projects you aren't doing anything wrong. As a male, I think this is one of the places we have it a little harder, because no one assumes the female street photographer is a pedofile. I find it helps to keep a gallery of my street work on my phone to show people what I am doing. I also carry cards with my email and always offer a copy to everyone I talk to.

Also, if you ever find yourself noticed by a street subject (especially couples and parents), I find it works if you approach them before they confront you. You realise you are noticed, and instead of walking away, wave and go and talk. Tell them about your photography, how cute a couple they are (or how funny their kids are), that you couldn't help but take a picture because it was just perfect, show them the shot, and ask if they want you to send them a copy. It really does work great sometimes. The best interaction I ever had worked like that. It was a man proposing in the park, they saw me after their moment was over and I talked to them. I ended up selling them a print (gave them the digital for free) and they used the shot on their engagement announcement.


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Post edited over 5 years ago by airfrogusmc. (2 edits in all)
     
Dec 04, 2014 07:51 |  #14

I don't hide. I get right out there. If I am doing more of a portrait I ask. If I am try to capture the moment I don't. If you are going to be effective as a street photographer you have to get over it. I do use equipment that is small and quiet. And I usually go out alone or if I'm with others I get away from them. Its very hard to get what I need if there are several people standing/walking next to me.

Heres a couple of examples of asking..

IMAGE: http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y118/airfrogusmc/L1000765.jpg

IMAGE: http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y118/airfrogusmc/L1016211_zps3ada3e30.jpg

IMAGE: http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y118/airfrogusmc/airfrogusmc019/L1022225_zpsf5e2f3c3.jpg

IMAGE: http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y118/airfrogusmc/L1003840_zpsadde7368.jpg

Heres a couple that were in the moment.
IMAGE: http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y118/airfrogusmc/L1015256_1_zps65ba892f.jpg

IMAGE: http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y118/airfrogusmc/airfrogusmc019/L1002146_1sharpened_zps66374c7c.jpg

IMAGE: http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y118/airfrogusmc/L1004742_zpsd425f474.jpg

IMAGE: http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y118/airfrogusmc/L1001458_zpsbd1faade.jpg



  
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yogestee
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Dec 05, 2014 05:50 |  #15

Most of my photography involves street photography, meaning shots of people going about their business. This could be on the street, in market places, even bus stations and cafes. I love this kind of photography.

Luckily I live in a country where people don't mind having a camera pointed at them. I've had mums pose their kids so I can get a shot or two. I have my haunts where I like to shoot. Places bustling with human activity are my favourites. Fresh produce markets are always lively and colourful. You get some amazing characters in fresh produce markets. I've had glasses of beer pressed into my hand, and on two occasions, wedding proposals!

There are two ways you can go about getting your shots.

1. You can go in like a storm trooper and shoot everything that moves, then cull heavily.

2. Sit, wait and watch. People will get used to you being there and will eventually ignore you. Then you can pick off your subjects as you please. This method works best for me.



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Street photography awkwardness...
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