Wednesday, October 17, 2012

More About Street Shooting

In my blog post for October 9th, A Couple of Happy Guys, I mentioned five things that a street shooter needs to be aware of, especially when shooting from the hip: setting proper exposure, lens focal length and the area of coverage, lens focus, camera tilt, and not chimping. This afternoon I gave a workshop/photowalk to a few people who requested to go out with me and shoot. I thought the questions they asked and the things that came up during the walk would make an interesting post.

We need to have an idea of why we're out photographing on the street. I shoot because I want to present images to an audience. I always look for interesting faces and gestures. I want people to look at my images and to identify with the subjects - find something in the image to which they can relate. Faces present us with expressions of feelings.  Of the two - faces and gestures - I find faces much easier to capture. I can see a person approaching from some distance away and usually her facial expression stays the same. Gestures - with hands and/or posture (body language) - can be small subtle motions that happen quickly and require a very fast reaction to capture. They often last only a second or two. As I was describing how to photograph those fleeting little motions, I realized that I had never addressed one of the most important techniques I use for street shooting: keeping both of my eyes open as I look through the viewfinder. That allows me to be aware of, even if only peripherally, what's going on outside the frame. I can sense if there's something happening that is more interesting than at what I'm pointing the camera.

When I create captions for my images I sometimes (ok, often) try to inject a touch of humor. In both of these images I have no idea what the subject of the discussion is, but since in both images the person doing the speaking and making the gesture is looking at me, I made them both self-referential.

Don't look now, but that guy is taking our picture!

If you don't put that camera down, I'm going to grab you and squeeze really hard!

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