Street Photography and confidence

Discussion in 'Photography Techniques' started by JustinW, Aug 27, 2011.

  1. JustinW

    JustinW SC Regular

    30
    Aug 14, 2011
    Melbourne, Australia
    This site has given me a lot of inspiration around street photography. I am trying to get more into it, however I am finding that my own confidence is becoming my biggest inhibitor.

    I see people doing things that I would love to capture, but I am nervous about them seeing me take a pic. Given the fact I use a X100, I need to be relatively close... however I am sure my X100 would look a lot less creepy than my SLR with some huge zoom on it!!! :)

    So, what I would like to know is: how does everybody else deal with this? How you find peoples reactions when you are 'caught' taken their pic? What is your technique?
     
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  2. Armanius

    Armanius Bring Jack back!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Houston, Texas
    Real Name:
    Jack
    Even though it's a 35mm lens (EFL), you don't necessarily have to be super close. With 12 meg sensor, you can still crop without losing too much resolution.

    If someone sees you taking a photo of them, don't look away and pretend that you are not. Just make eye contact, nod, and smile. If they look pissed and approach you (which is rare), you can erase the photo, although you don't have to if you are in a public place. Laws may differ from place to place though. Alternatively, after smiling, just keep on taking more photos of other subjects. That way, the original subject will see that you are not a stalker, but rather, you are just randomly taking photos of strangers.

    PS: I find it difficult to do street photography too!
     
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  3. kyteflyer

    kyteflyer ~@¿@~

    Jan 31, 2011
    Newcastle, Australia
    Real Name:
    Sue
    I have the same issues. I usually end up being stealthy but there are times that I want to be right up front and find that I fail at the last minute. I've often ended up getting people when they walked into my field of view (probably assuming I would wait til they pass before shooting, and I don't)... so maybe that is something you could try. Be out and shooting at random buildings etc but with a wide angle, when people get into your FoV, just go for it. With a wide, it never looks like you are shooting at them, anyway. Clearly, I have not tried this with my GRD or the X100... yet.
     
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  4. AzPete

    AzPete SC Veteran

    404
    Dec 24, 2010
    Hey Justin, you are not alone here. My legs get weak in the knees if even someone looks in my direction. Seems to me we may already have a thread on this but I love the topic.

    Here's my take: Become good friends with Javier and invite him over for breakfast. Then tag along and watch him work. He's fearless, has great timing, and has some big balxx, if you know what I mean.

    Joking aside, good luck to you in this venture, as for me, I'll stick to babies, sunsets and flowers :wink:

    Cheers,
    Pete
     
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  5. stillshunter

    stillshunter Super Moderator Emeritus

    Nov 5, 2010
    Down Under
    Real Name:
    Mark
    Great topic Justin. I'm much the same. Actually took the X100 out yesterday for some street work and ended up shooting more than 90% from the hip. Suffice it to say that my keeper rate was substantially lower than that....actually I think it peaked at about 1% (see street thread for my only keeper of the day)! :blush:

    According to a mate who shoots a film Leica M and has been doing street for years - and makes it look simple -, reckons you just need to get out there and do it! The first time is the hardest but he reckons it's easier after that, especially after you get over the nerves and develop a stealthy style. Also I notice he is not only quick, from waist to eye and click, but sometimes leaves the piece to his face for a while scanning the place, so people probably become accustomed to it.

    Easy enough anyway for him to say, when he has an optical viewfinder beyond the framelines and silent operation and...hey wait we have all that. Just need the "balxx" (Gold Pete, pure gold! :thumbup:) to do it that first time.

    Happy to join a virtual 'street support group' if anyone else wants to sign-up on here? We could commit to giving it a go, and sharing how we fare. Normal caveats apply of course (mainly to do with indemnity on physical, photographic and facial damages)

    Just putting it out there....
     
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  6. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    Nic
    Depends what you want to achieve. If you want the classic, in-your-face, low-down, shot-from-the-hip style then you really just need to take a deep breath and get out there and do it. Whether you want to do it discretely or overtly is up to you. Start off by taking a more environmental approach i.e. shooting people moving through the environment around them rather than isolating the people alone. I prefer to use this approach because it records the place as well as the people, and I will be able to identify more personally with the image now and in the future. There is also no need to be discrete with this approach. Use a DSLR, a compact, whatever.
     
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  7. ajramirez

    ajramirez SC All-Pro S.C. Charter Member Subscribing Member

    Jul 9, 2010
    Caguas, Puerto Rico
    Real Name:
    Antonio
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  8. BillN

    BillN SC Hall of Famer Subscribing Member

    Aug 25, 2010
    S W France
    Real Name:
    Bill
    He's crazy and NYC is crazy - try that in some, (many), places - at worst you would be dead and at best you will be in an argument ever other shot

    Brave man, but he's from Brooklyn
     
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  9. Briar

    Briar SC All-Pro

    Oct 27, 2010
    Scotland
    Real Name:
    Karen
    Its almost like he is assaulting people rather than making pictures.
     
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  10. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend Subscribing Member

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    Real Name:
    you should be able to figure it out...
    When I was first street shooting, I quickly learned that FOR ME the best way to get over any fear I had was to shoot in VERY CROWDED environments. If I'm on a street with very few people, I tend to stick out like a sore thumb if I'm shooting photos that are clearly OF them and that can make you incredibly self-conscious. But in a really crowded location you can blend into the crowd and most people are too busy with whatever they're there to do to notice you, among the many other people who probably have some sort of camera, taking photos of them. Over time I developed both more confidence and more technique and now I'm comfortable in less crowded places, but that was the absolute best way for me to break the ice and just get on with it. You pretty quickly come to realize that people generally just don't give a damn WHAT you're doing in that same crowd that they're in. Unless they're street photographers also, they're probably not looking at you or thinking about you at all. There's the old expression about getting lost in the crowd - its for real.

    -Ray
     
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  11. nursenicole

    nursenicole SC Regular

    53
    Mar 5, 2011
    Boston
    I am so grateful for this thread! Here I thought there was something wrong with ME for not having the same gutsy ability to just DO IT as the rest of you - seems perception is everything in this case :wink:
     
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  12. HeatherTheVet

    HeatherTheVet SC All-Pro

    Apr 23, 2011
    Scotland
    Real Name:
    Heather
    Nah, I'm a big girl too. But I don't have autofocus which makes me stick out a wee bit more.

    When you say shoot from the hip is everyone meaning actually having the camera at hip level or are you talking metaphorically? Just checking....
     
  13. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Real Name:
    BB
    :eek::eek: I'm with you, Karen, it is as though he's assaulting them!

    My mother was born and bred in Brooklyn but she must have been from a different section.:wink: She was the antithesis of an in your face kind of person.
     
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  14. Luckypenguin

    Luckypenguin SC Hall of Famer

    Dec 24, 2010
    Brisbane, Australia
    Real Name:
    Nic
    A bit of both, but mostly it's literal. Hence the popularity of cameras with flip or tilt screens for this sort of photography.
     
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  15. BBW

    BBW Administrator Emeritus S.C. Charter Member

    Jul 7, 2010
    betwixt and between
    Real Name:
    BB
    I believe Ray means that he literally is shooting from the hip or thereabouts. This is one of the big pluses about the swivel screen...you can sort of use it like a mini view camera or like a Rolleiflex Rolleiflex - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I am not a streetshooter per se, though my street might be my little world?
     
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  16. Will

    Will SC All-Pro

    Aug 30, 2010
    England
    I don't mind someone taking my photo on the street but I'd be annoyed with someone sticking a flash right in my face like that.
    Would be fun to follow him around all day taking pictures of his subjects just after he does.
     
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  17. pdh

    pdh SC Legend

    Jan 2, 2011
    where's that nice chap from Philadelphia? I'm sure he's got an opinion on the subject ...
     
  18. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend Subscribing Member

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    Real Name:
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Yeah, I mean it literally, although sometimes with a tilt-screen and sometimes without any visual aids at all, just framing on instinct, which is pretty much ALL I do with the GRD3 and all I did with the EP3 and what I'll still sometimes do with the EPL3 (which does have a flip up screen). Lots of times it just comes down to instinct anyway.

    Here are three recent ones shot totally on instinct and having a pretty good idea what I was framing with the camera, but not actually seeing it in the screen until well after the exposure was made. IE, from the hip, NOT looking at the camera when I made the shot...

    I've shown these on the forum before, but not in the context of a discussion of technique I don't think.

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/5964649437/" title="R0011632 by ramboorider1, on Flickr">[​IMG]"1024" height="1024" alt="R0011632"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/5964636355/" title="R0011156 by ramboorider1, on Flickr">[​IMG]"1024" height="683" alt="R0011156"></a>

    <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/20889767@N05/6028448967/" title="Pike St. by ramboorider1, on Flickr">[​IMG]"1024" height="1024" alt="Pike St."></a>

    -Ray
     
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  19. stillshunter

    stillshunter Super Moderator Emeritus

    Nov 5, 2010
    Down Under
    Real Name:
    Mark
    Ray, there's some true beauties in that series - not so much the subject matter but the treatment :wink:

    Go big first and work yourself down to smaller crowds. Sounds like great advice...but means I have to wait for a trip to Sydney or Melbourne :sad:

    Meanwhile, I suppose shooting from the hip just takes sheer practice? I tried it with the X100 recently and mostly ended up missing the mark. So is it down to a lot of target practice?

    Hmmm....I did expect our man in Philly to have dropped in by now?
     
  20. Ray Sachs

    Ray Sachs SC Legend Subscribing Member

    Sep 21, 2010
    Not too far from Philly
    Real Name:
    you should be able to figure it out...
    Yeah, it takes practice. When I first started trying it I had LOTS of shots of the sky and pavement and my intended subjects hand maybe reaching into one edge of the shot. LOTS of misses. I don't find the X100 to be a good camera for that kind of shooting. Its a more deliberate camera - watch the scene develop in the OVF, half press for focus as its coming together, and then snap it when its all happening. But just trying to raise it (or leave it at your hip) and shoot in a real hurry doesn't work well for me with it. And I find it a bit narrow for hip shooting - something a little wider gives more room for a bit of error. That said, I do have a few hip-shots from the X100 that I like a lot. But while its about my favorite camera, its not my favorite street camera because its so deliberate.

    I'd guess that other guy from Philly (or maybe Philly proper - I live in a nearby town) is out doing good works for people post-Hurricane. And good on him for that...

    -Ray
     
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