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Lochlomond

Too shy or introvert to be a stock photographer?

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I am not very experienced with this and consequently, like you, I am a bit reticent about taking photos of people on the street, but I think that helps - not looking too professional. I don't do much deliberate street photography, but I have found that, even when I hang around for ages and am very visibly trying to get a picture of a street type scene, it's almost impossible to get the picture without people wandering into my shot. That is annoying - until you realise that they obviously don't care if they are in your picture, so just press the button.

 

It is not always possible to take someone with you - but you can always take your camera whenever you go out with someone else - this helps a lot to make you more invisible - you look like just another visitor / tourist.

 

I very obviously point the camera at stuff that doesn't seem very interesting and the scatter gun approach along with looking inordinately happy about brick walls and betting shops makes people think I am just a harmless, hapless woman with a camera that is too big for her to manage. I obviously don't know what I am doing and a big smile to anyone you catch watching you re-enforces the impression. Or maybe it is cos.I.is.blonde.

 

I have asked to take pictures of people working and wait with baited breath until they they say 'you're not from the DSS?'  I say no, but if they they'd rather not, it's ok, I'm just trying to sell the pics to the papers because they need photos of people working and if it's ok, I can leave their faces out.......  which so far has resulted in folk saying 'No, no, I'm legit, carry on'.

 

People also think you are strange if you take pics of your food in restaurants, maybe you should be getting out more? Make it obvious you are doing it and then, when they are looking at you like you are a harmless nerd, ask to take a picture of the pizza chef working.

 

It's been hard to go up and ask people if I can take their picture, but the surprising thing is that the knockbacks are not nearly so embarrassing as you'd expect - just smile, say 'thanks anyway, no problem' and head off somewhere else. 

 

The nice thing is that some people are really fine about it. These two old guys said yes and at the last moment, one of them said 'It's not going to be in the papers is it?' So I said 'Hopefully - if they think you look good enough' and the other one said  'so, do you want the dog in it too?'

 

E2HKAF

 

Sorry, don't seem to be able to drag and drop.

 

 

 

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Just to add a brief two cents to all the above, I started going out to do more street photography a few times here in New York City recently, mainly with my Fuji X100s, and found out something I should have realized a long time ago; in New York everyone is taking photographs, almost everyone seems to be a tourist and almost no one seems to worry about someone with a small camera.  In the old days, I would get stares or comments if I went somewhere with a TLR and a tripod (and maybe still would) but with a small mirrorless or for that matter an Olympus XA you don't seem to attract a lot of attention.  I do tend to photograph people when they are not looking right at me generally, and I don't photograph children, but usually people don't seem to look back that much.

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I'm not a natural people photographer, but using a small camera certainly helps one integrate with the crowd group.

 

The persona I try to create is a tourist with a new camera who is trying to figure out how it works

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I was stopped by three people today, all curious about what I was doing, and wanting a chat.  I was in an area where cameras are rarely seen.  I'm always surprised by how friendly everyone is, particularly in 'hard' areas.

 

I would never be furtive or try and disguise what I was doing - people would think I was a private dick, or investigating benifit cheats. 

 

Always be very careful with children around though.

 

To overcome any inhibitions in busy places I sometimes stand next to a wall and just look through the viewfinder until I feel invisible. 

 

Robert, we already thought you were a private dick (detective, that is). B)

 

 

You might be confusing me with a fictional narcotics agent called Bob Arctor, who ends up investigating himself.

 

The authors name is Dick.

 

 

First Uriah Heep, now Phillip K. . . . this forum is the first step to anywhere you want to be Grasshopper . . .

 

dd

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I've been a "working Photographer" since I was 15, I'm in my mid 50's now.  When I was young I did have a problem with worrying about peoples reaction to my taking pictures

until a Photo editor at NEWSWEEK told me to "Get the Fxxxxxx picture or not come back."  I will never forget that assignment and I did get the picture and I did come back.

 

When I am out taking photos, either covering a news story or shooting for stock.  I always have business cards and I wear pressed kaki pants and a button down shirt and usually

a kaki bush jacket.  I call it my uniform.  In other words, I look like people expect a photographer to look.  If someone asks me what I am doing I tell them that I am a photographer

and am making images.  I've never had a problem, keep in mind that I have taken photographs in public in California, Paris, Jerusalem, Stockholm, Helsinki (summer time when

everyone is drunk),  Xi'an, Bejing, Kiev and Moscow.

 

In my opinion it is vitatly important to act like a professional and NEVER, NEVER intefer with the police and I've photographed a lot of serious disturbancances all over the world

and not once has anyone asked to see my press card, which I always have.

 

If you think about it, you missed to picture.  Take the picture first.

 

Chuck (still the original one)

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I will add one real story.

 

in the early 1990's I and another photojournalist were covering a little civil war (wars are never civil) in Azerbaijan. We were walking down the street

in Baku and came across a ten-year old boy in the street holding a loaded AK-47 (One frame from that is on Alamy and has been licensed many times).

We started taking pictures of him and talking to him and a group of heavily armed men came up behind us, one of which was his father. We honestly told

them that we are journalists and found the boy and were taking his picture. We were honest, they were honest and I still owe them a print of the kid

and the AK... Things have changed, Yes I have worked in Afghanistan. I am too old for that type of work now.

 

In my opinion it is important to be honest with people, to a point and treat them with respect. I do not lie when I have a camera in my hand, don't tell my

wife that.....

 

Chuck (who's wife cannot log-in to this forum)

Edited by Chuck Nacke
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Many thanks for all the useful and helpful replies and suggestions.  I will certainly take them on board and .... leave the 70-200 at home and invest in maybe a Canon EOS M :)

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I've never had a problem, keep in mind that I have taken photographs in public in California, Paris, Jerusalem, Stockholm, Helsinki (summer time when

everyone is drunk),  

 

It's not only during summers when everyone in Helsinki is drunk. :) Just kidding, of course. We Finns aren't nearly as attracted to booze as people seem to think. 

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...

 

I hope the subliminal message they receive is that I respect the fact that they are just doing their job, and that involves being nosey.

...

 

So true. I missed that one :rolleyes:

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Smaller camera definitely helps as others have said. (I know one guy who keeps a small camera in one hand, with strap round wrist, rather than round his neck......because the movement of one arm with camera rising to eye is nowhere near as noticeable as the normal two hands raising camera hanging by stomach to eye) - easier to show that than write it down!

 

I normally use a DSLR with 24-120 zoom.  I have only ever had two people make it clear they weren't happy with me taking photos.  A big smile, a compliment and a belief that it's OK and some common sense on what/who you take goes a long way. I often ask people for a photo and they usually are very obliging. Or just say "do you mind if I take some photos please - you look fantastic in that hat/car/ behind that market stall/ or whatever - just ignore me..... and they normally do. Happy to take candids too.

 

I think it is partly to do with one's own beliefs and self identity.  Personally, I think "I am a photographer".  I look like a photographer - with all the bags and kit.  I am confident in chatting and talking to anyone.  I have a belief that people will be happy for me take a photo (esp if I ask first) - that may be arrogant I know.  And I think that probably comes out in my body language and so people seem to go along with it.  Whereas if one goes out believing that you are intruding and people will get upset, then that can ooze out subtly in your demeanour/posture etc and that's what you get! 

 

So if you feel uncomfortable, my advice would be to work on your beliefs.  Maybe start small, go out and target one small area, such as your local market, and try a few things out.  The more you do it the more you will improve and develop your own approach.

 

And, having said all that, I have probably guaranteed that I will get my head chewed off by someone next time I am out!

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You can always shoot from the hip:

 

"Don't let go"

DSCF8187m1_zps15e75ccb.jpg

Taken with Fuji X-M1 + nikkor 28 AIS ( the flip screen is a big help & rather like using a small light TLR waist level camera)

 

Parm

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It's not only during summers when everyone in Helsinki is drunk. :) Just kidding, of course. We Finns aren't nearly as attracted to booze as people seem to think. 

 

 

No, but we fellow Scandinavians sure like to make jokes about this. :)

 

Quite sure Danes are no better, not to speak about the Swedes and Norwegians. The jokes are different for each country, but better leave them where they belong...  :)

Edited by Niels Quist

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I go with the philosophy of being obvious in what I am doing. Most of my travel stuff is taken with a D3 with a decent lens stuck on the front including an old 80-200 2.8 and I can honestly say I have never really had a problem of any substance. I think that there is a inner moral code of what to take and what not to. I would not hang around thinly populated parks taking pics of children and if the situation feels uncomfortable then it probably is.

Recently I have been using a RX100 for a few shots (Cork and Kinsale) and to be honest I feel that is it more sneaky taking covert pics with this camera, so I tend not to.

All of my Asia and Vancouver photos are taken with big kit but the beauty of Asia is that everyone (almost) is happy to have themselves included to the point of going out of their way to be in the photo. I have actually been taking a shot in Beijing of the old deserted huton area when a woman has run out of a house and plonked a toddler right in front of me.

In the UK we now have this media led distrust which I hate but I still go out and take pictures. On the rare occasion of being asked of what I am doing I tell the truth.......I am recording a fraction of a second of history. Fortune favours the brave as they say!

On the other hand this is an over saturated area of stock and probably with a diminishing financial reward left in it. So, if your skills lie within the studio then that is probably the place to be. Desktop and concept is probably where the money lies at the moment anyway.

 

Andy

Edited by AndyMelbourne

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I hope everybody notices that most answers at some point talk about the photographer's own behaviour. While the OP (who I believe is a he) mentions he's getting too self-conscious too quickly.

 

Believe me, with a 35mm there's no point either way.

Besides has anybody ever tried to tell you not to be self-conscious? Or have you tried to tell someone else that? And what happened?

 

wim

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I hope everybody notices that most answers at some point talk about the photographer's own behaviour. While the OP (who I believe is a he) mentions he's getting too self-conscious too quickly.

 

Believe me, with a 35mm there's no point either way.

Besides has anybody ever tried to tell you not to be self-conscious? Or have you tried to tell someone else that? And what happened?

 

wim

And that really sums it all up........it's about the attitude and zone of being comfortable for the individual taking the photographs.

Anyway the pubs open so I am off for a bacon cob and a pint. I will take my compact in my pocket just in case.

By the way the compact is not to powder my nose.

Everybody have a nice day and play nicely.

Andy

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It's a state of mind which only you can change. You wont get the picture you'd like if you don't think solely of getting the picture. You won't get it at the back of the crowd, you need to be at the front. That's your job. You are a photographer, right? When the job is done you'll get satisfaction. So put on the superman cape (camera) and become all powerful. When you put it away you can become Clark Kent again. It takes some time to train your brain into thinking that but it can be beneficial to think that way. I hope this helps. 

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I think the previous advice sums up my more confused thoughts.  And sometimes it is much better to be obvious, than furtive (the trademark of the true weirdo).

 

However, having done the existentialist bit, some basic practical advice: get a press card - if you possibly can, and assuming you haven't got one.

 

Nothing is designed to dent anyone's confidence more than a long interview with a squad car packed with police, when all you have got between you and a visit to the custody sergeant, is a silly business card.

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First Uriah Heep, now Phillip K. . . . this forum is the first step to anywhere you want to be Grasshopper . . .

 

dd

 

 

 

Uriah Heep ... will that be the hard rock act seen better days Dusty, or that disgustingly obseqious little creep who dares pop his head up on this forum from time to time?

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It's not only during summers when everyone in Helsinki is drunk. :) Just kidding, of course. We Finns aren't nearly as attracted to booze as people seem to think. 

 

 

No, but we fellow Scandinavians sure like to make jokes about this. :)

 

Quite sure Danes are no better, not to speak about the Swedes and Norwegians. The jokes are different for each country, but better leave them where they belong...  :)

 

 

Don't want to hijack this thread, but I unfortunately there's a truth in those jokes too. A small (but loud) percentage of the population certainly fits the image everyone has about us. But enough about that and back to the original topic.  :P

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First Uriah Heep, now Phillip K. . . . this forum is the first step to anywhere you want to be Grasshopper . . .

 

dd

 

 

 

Uriah Heep ... will that be the hard rock act seen better days Dusty, or that disgustingly obseqious little creep who dares pop his head up on this forum from time to time?

 

 

Dickens aside, there really has only ever been one Uriah Heep . . . and I've never seen them here . . .

 

dd

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If this subject interests you, please take a good look at the link Paulette has kindly and helpfully given us. The author hits many of the main points involved in street shooting . . . and there are lots of photo examples.

 

Let me say, there are many valid approaches to snapping pictures of strangers mentioned in this post. I decide which one I'll use in a situation by intuition. I'm right brained and I've learned to trust my intuition. Finding a path (or paths) you're comfortable with is important; we're all different folks so we might need different strokes. 

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