Another Confrontation Anecdote - comments appreciated

Discussion in 'Street and Documentary' started by foveant, Jan 14, 2007.

  1. I am a novice in street photography. Today, while I was walking downtown with
    my camera I stopped on the sidewalk and photographed a middle-aged female
    jogger as she was passing by in the opposite direction. She came to a stop a
    few feet after passing me and said I had no right to take photos of her. I
    replied that I did have the right to take photos of her as she was in a public
    place and explained that what I was doing was perfectly legal. She asked me
    what the photos were for. I told her, “nothing--it's just documentary
    photography.” She continued on to say that her husband was a “cop” (her
    wording), insinuating a threat, I assume. She asked for my name. I told her
    my first name and suggested that she should tell her husband and have him look
    into the legality of my photographing her. She did not respond to this. I
    added that if she did not like my photographing her I would not take any
    further photos. She then asked for my last name. I told her my last name and
    spelled it out to her. She continued with an ultimatum in a nervous, shaken
    voice, “don’t take pictures of me!” repeated it once or twice more, turned
    around, and continued on her jog. I did not take any more photos of her and
    continued on my way in the opposite direction, feeling a bit disheartened by
    the experience.
    <br><br>
    I know I was not legally obligated to tell her what the photos were for or what
    my name was, but I was trying to make it apparent that I had no ill
    intentions. Where did I go wrong and how might situations like this be avoided
    while taking candid photos in public places? Should I set my 50mm aside and
    purchase a big telephoto lens or should I just work on my approach?
    <br><br>
    Notes: I was using a Nikon D50 with a neck strap and a 50mm lens attached. It
    was about 9AM, Sunday.
     
  2. "Where did I go wrong" -- taking a picture of a total stranger doing nothing particularly interesting. Not illegal, as you say, but perceived by some as odd and suspicious.

    "How might situations like this be avoided..." -- Find another aspect of photography pother than 'street'. Alternatively, refine your pitch when you are confronted by the next unwilling subject.

    Your willingness to give her your name and promise not to take any further photographs was a very decent thing to do.
     
  3. Lesson #1: Never, ever take pictures of females when they feel ugly. Which is, like 95% of the time. Even if they're beautuful, they're still very fragile. If they're ugly, fuggedaboudit.

    Lesson #2: Don't give your personal details to people you don't know.

    Lesson #3: *X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#* happens.
     
  4. Was the picture really worth the distress it caused to both parties? From your description her experience with you has left her clearly shaken.

    I'd have apologized. As you were shooting digital you should have showed her the shot on the back of the screen, if she liked it offer to forward her a print. If she didn't like it then show her clearly that you have deleted the file. Was the picture really worth the trouble for you? I'm sure there are plenty more models on the street for your jogger project.

    Everyone has a right to object to their picture being taken - even if it's a legal pastime. Life's just to short to get worked up with those that have an objection in being an object of your passion. Move on...
     
  5. said I had no right to take photos of her. I replied that I did have the right to take photos of her as she was in a public
    Never respond with an argumentative assertion. She was jogging, not preparing for an argument. Tell her you will erase the image if she likes, or skip the frame. Apologize, give your name, move on and stop being such a friggin embarrasement to the rest of us.
     
  6. I'd have told her

    a.) My name is John Doe"

    b.) "they aren't your pictures , they're mine" (an old Garry Winogrand line).

    c.) Let her watch me delete them. There are other fish in the sea.
     
  7. Did you get her name? You did nothing wrong and you had every right to take the photos and walk on. If she persisted, she's violating the law, and if as she says her husband is a cop, then say, "Ok, who is he?", and then say, "Have you asked him about the laws governing photography?" You don't have to give a reason other than personal use. I think I would have simply said have a nice day and then took some more photographs and walked on. These situations can't be avoided, some people have the wrong idea of right to privacy in public spaces.
    And I've set my 300mm f2.8 lens on the tripod on sidewalks and no one has bothered me, including in front of a federal court house. It's how I got this photo with a security guard watching.
     
  8. Scott, would you have argued with her? Look, the lady was running! She's pumped, in her
    space and you want to argue with her? That's just silly.

    Such a thing won't go to court. If you whined to a cop that she was insisting upon
    something that wasn't "legal", he would probably ID you, check you for wants and warrants
    and then just walk away. He has sensibility and a life, too.

    You people who think you are going to inform a member of the public right then and there
    are the problem. You are all ego. No smarts. And you mess it up for the rest of us.
     
  9. Ask her how long has she's been working out.
     
  10. Judging from some of the keyboard flexing posts here, we can tell who makes good pictures
    of people in the environment and those who should stick to photographing mountains,
    flowers and other postcard material - it doesn't talk back... but it would if it could, and it
    would probably b*ch slap ya silly.
     
  11. Shooting people is not that difficult - just be direct. Sneak around and/or act guilty like
    you've been "caught," and you'll have problems.
     
  12. Joggers are usually a boring bunch anyway...don't sweat it.
     
  13. And what is wrong, Pico, with photographing mountains, flowers and other postcard material? ;)
     
  14. Thank you all for the feedback.

    Pico, I agree that I should not have been so argumentative. Thanks for the advice.

    Guy, of course it was not worth it (especially since the photo turned out to be nothing special), but I had no idea she would object so strongly to being photographed.
     
  15. Justin, you've gotten some static on whether the picture was 'worth it' (it being, variously, the hassle for you, the emotional distress for the subject, &c.). Judging from your description of the scene, it would have been hard to know ahead of time that your pressing a button (the shutter release) would have triggered major emotional distress in your passerby subject.

    Moreover, though it may or may not have ended up as a banal shot (certainly you might have captured some compelling emotion if you shot another during the discussion!), but anyone who has ever wasted frame one should understand that not every shot is a keeper, and that by such a criterion most of us should be fraught with contrition for >90% of our button-pressings.

    Overall, I think you handled the situation graciously, and the jogger may have actually learned something (namely, that public photography is legal). Maybe she'll even think more deeply on how any street photographs (in coffee-table books &c.) that she enjoys were actually made. And, though there may be no way to slice such an all-too-familiar occasion into a really pleasant one, hopefully you'll get more comfortable in both avoiding and enduring such confrontations.
     
  16. I empathise and sympathise. I have been shooting more and more street photographs and have faced some extremely aggressive reactions, even though I try to stay invisible. (Paris has been the worst place for this so far, incidentally.) I've talked it all through with a number of close friends - some who thinking I am stealing souls and some who love the way I present what I see of the world to them - and I still am not entirely sure how I feel about it all.

    A good zoom/telephoto helps - of course, and having a lot of time so you can wait until your subject is not looking and I am working on a vague "Oh, I am just going to point my camera at everything within 180 degrees for the next ten minutes" look when I have been spotted. I pretend to be trying to capture everything I can see and then the original victim feels less convinced that they have been singled out.

    I took a series of this guy in a dodgy part of town and I was shaking so much because I thought he had seen me - this was the only one passable shot:
    http://www.helen.phanfare.com/show/external/187754/242590/11050135/file.jpg


    Is it all worth it? I dunno but I am hooked.
     
  17. Do SP long enough and it's bound to happen, so congrats to you Justin. The first time is always the most difficult, but at least now you have some experience and your confidence should grow as a result of this, your (un)official initiation. You could have been a smart-ass and asked her if she raises the same stink with her bank, the stores she shops in and even perhaps the intersections she is currently jogging across but it probably wouldn't have helped any.
     
  18. Also, at risk of fanning the flames here, I think ad hominems like 'a friggin embarrassment'/'all ego'/'no smarts' are more hostile and needlessly argumentative than it is to tell a misinformed stranger that public photography is legal.

    At any rate, I dispute the claim that doing the latter tends to 'mess it up for the rest of us' -- on the contrary, I think calmly engaging with people to briefly chat about the benign intent, art-historical precedent, personal passion, and, yes, legality of taking pictures in public can, in the long run, reduce the frequency of such angry confrontations. In such cases, people often leave with a better understanding of why the erstwhile blank slate behind the lens is doing what they're doing, and may be less suspicious next time.
     
  19. That's a good shot Helen, I like it. For doing shots like this where your subject is still, nothing beats a camera with a waist level finder. Anytime one brings a camera to their face it's a dead give away. A WLF though allows one to craddle the camera in their lap as they sit across from others. I spent the better part of last summer on Santa Monicas 3rd Street Promade doing just that and not once did anyone say anything even as they watched me looking down into the viewfinder as I focused. Oh wait, I take that back...one man and his wife said to me as I got up after taking a few pics of them "Nice camera". Come to think of it, the only time I've had someone object to my presence was the lady on the subway who I wrote here about last year. Oddly enough I wasn't even pointing my camera at her, she was sitting at the other end of the car! Go figure. So anyways, look into a waist level finder for your camera. Otherwise medium format gear is dirt cheap these days and a nice TLR might make getting in close easier.
    00JWO5-34432184.jpg
     
  20. <And what is wrong, Pico, with photographing mountains, flowers and other postcard
    material? ;)>

    Nothing, cept their boring...just look at Ansel Adams work!:)
     
  21. Also, at risk of fanning the flames here, I think ad hominems like 'a friggin embarrassment'/'all ego'/'no smarts' are more hostile and needlessly argumentative than it is to tell a misinformed stranger that public photography is legal.
    My, what a nice speech. Sir, you are not going to convert a person who is pumped, prejudiced and aggressive about his/her feeling about being photographed. It's not about logic. It's about feeling. Sitting at a keyboard in a relaxed atmosphere is detached, an unrealistic platform for preaching, not for practicing street diplomacy. If you can inform and convert someone in such a case, get it on tape and I guarantee you that there is a place in door-to-door vacuum cleaner sales in your future.
    Be kind, brief and apologetic and move on.
    If your feelings are hurt here, then imagine being in the persons place in real life... as I say, pumped.
    Justin - no problem. The ability did not come to me naturally, and frankly I've heard it all and am rather unimpressed with indignant emotions, but still sensitive. And I'm too old to get angry. I just get tired. :)
     
  22. Street photography is like anything else involving interaction with other people- there's
    usually a risk involved on some level. That's part of what makes it fun, and it can be a rush.
    More often than not, the greater the risk, the bigger the reward. Unless there is a child
    involved, people who react like she did have issues. As long as you're in one piece, it's easy
    to forget things enough to go for it next time.

    Then again, street photography isn't for everyone. You have to be motivated and confident
    to some degree about what you're doing.
     
  23. You kinda have to thicken your skin if you're going to do street. People will get upset.
    They'll call you names. You can either deal with it or you can't. It gets easier, but it doesn't
    get easy.

    Don't give your full name to anyone who isn't a real cop. You can never tell when some
    psycho is going to decide to "do something" about the "insult" they've received. If her
    husband really is a cop that makes her especially dangerous. Even good departments have
    instances of officers using their position to settle personal scores.
     
  24. Roger's right. I read sometime ago that there is always a small percentage of the population that are downright insane but are not under any treatment or supervision. I'm not talking run of the mill common stuff like phobias but hardcore mental issues like psychosis. I can't recall the exact number but even if it's only like 1% or 2% look back at the last 100 images you took of strangers.
    Odds are good that one or two of those people might be better off weaving baskets in a padded room someplace.

    Nevertheless, most advice here is sound. If despite your best efforts a situation looks like it's escalating just bail outta there. No point in suffering for ones art at the hands of some lunitic whose soul you just stole.
     
  25. >Notes: I was using a Nikon D50 with a neck strap and a 50mm lens attached. It was about 9AM, Sunday.

    That's your problem then. If you'd been using a Canon it would have been fine.
     
  26. I often just explain, concisely what street photography is. Drop the name Bresson, explain
    how is most famous photo involves a guy and a puddle, a guy he didn't know. If it's digital,
    delete it for em. If its film, promise not to use it. If they say it's illegal, tell the truth, it
    isn't. And don't listen to whiners who say a shot of someone jogging aint interesting,
    maybe not if they made it. With practice and creativity you can make a masterpiece of a
    jogger. Those people are 'haters' ;).
     
  27. I largely agree with Luke's post. Those are some of the things I wish I'd said the one time it's happened to me (so far!). Thinking about it afterwards, I resolved to be infectiously enthusiastic about street photography, yet also to stress my humble status as an apprentice.

    I don't think I'd go so far as to delete the shot or promise not to use it, though. That would seem to undermine the justification I'd just given. I'd want to explain what I saw that made the picture seem worth taking.

    It is upsetting suddenly to be cast as a villain, but I think one should anticipate the subject's likely viewpoint, too. Unless you are predatory in your photography, that should surely give your work better human feeling?

    The time it happened to me, the main issue turned out to be that one of the subjects shouldn't have been where she was at the time!
     
  28. No point in suffering for ones art at the hands of some lunitic whose soul you just stole.
    LOL! Very good! Good discussion, BTW. It seems to have come to a peaceful conclusion.
    But REALLY, everyone knows you can only steal a soul using film.
     
  29. You should have simply told her you are a private detective and it was her own husband that hired you. Then take a couple of shots. Just kidding. I just shoot and keep walking. Usually, if someone is upset about it, they don't have the interest or energy to follow you down the street. Every now and then they do and it's best to just be non-confrontational and defuse the situation to the best of your ability. When I have conflicts, I get out of the area promptly. And, as was mentioned above, you definitely don't want to tangle with a cops wife. Cops are not necessarily concerned with legality. Many are more than willing to abuse the power of the badge/gun/nightstick, etc. Most importantly, just keep at it if SP is the kind of shooting you like. I guarantee that the next good shot you get will be enough to offset any ill feelings from this event.

    Jonas
     
  30. People taking pictures at 9AM always have trouble. Next time try another day or another time.

    Jokes apart. I think that street done with telephotos (see suggested examples above) is dull and boring. Buy a wide angle and then work on your approach.

    If you don't know how to approach, I can offer workshops. They are expensive, but my pictures are good, so they're worth the price.
     
  31. Hey Pico I guess that's really what the old digital vs film debate is all about: Which method of capture realy steals peoples souls. Now I finally know. Thanks Pico. I learn something new every day!
     
  32. If you are making people uncomfortable with how you are taking their pictures, then I'd suggest a change is in order.

    I'd say the lady was in the wrong for being so unfriendly. Likewise, I'd say the photographer was also in the wrong. Just because something is legal doesn't mean it is right. We share the public space. What ever happened to common courtesy when sharing? It takes two (or more) to argue.


    Eric
     
  33. Pico wrote: "you are not going to convert a person who is pumped, prejudiced and aggressive
    about his/her feeling about being photographed."

    If so, Pico, then I don't understand your earlier argument that a doomed attempt to 'convert'
    a suspicious stranger to see street photography as valid could 'mess it up for the rest of us'.
    That is, if the subject is already so intransigent on the question, and will continue to always
    be sour toward any stranger who might point a camera their way, then what difference would
    it make how or whether one talks to them? How could doing so ruin the prospects for other
    public photographers in future?
     
  34. Pico: "But REALLY, everyone knows you can only steal a soul using film."

    Kind of ironic when you think that it is digital that will result in a stolen soul's mugshot being sent by email around the globe in seconds to finally end up on http://www.mingers.com
     
  35. I'd say to the jogger, "Sorry, I didn't mean to bother you." Then smile,
    turn and walk away. Don't engage in her attempt at conversation. Just be polite and be on your way.
     
  36. It's so cool to see people arguing about what they SHOULD say without having tried.
     
  37. Giving one's opinion is not necessarily arguing, is it?
     
  38. Okay.

    Smile.

    Walk.

    Why make a fuss.
     
  39. Hi Justin

    With street photography I like to use a tripod. It lets me stake out a tiny bit of terrain and signals that I'm reasonably serious about what I am doing. Its obvious that I am taking photographs and if people don't want to be photographed they can avoid me and my camera (or turn their head, signal to me to stop, or whatever).

    As you say, there is nothing actually wrong (or illegal) with what you are doing. That said, people have a right to ask you not to photograph them - for all sorts of dumb reasons. (I'm sure that in most cases these hostile people are 'projecting' anger about something/someone else onto you because you're slightly higher profile than anyone else around. Some are afraid they are being targetted/used in some unspecified way. Or, jealousy makes some people suspect that you will make BIG BIG money 'at their expense' - which is nonsense on all sorts of levels.)

    I usually just act as cheerful as possible and explain the type of shot(s) I'm trying to get. If I'm using a slow shutter speed to blur a passing figure (not uncommon for me) I explain that they couldn't be identified in the image. If its a realistic shot, I'll tell them its for editorial purposes "... to illustrate topics in an encyclopedia or travel guide ..." Basically, be honest. When people realise you are not some kind of nutter, they usually calm down. Feel less threatened. Sometimes become interested.

    If their anger still hasn't been massaged by my enthusiasm and explanations, I would destroy the image if they demanded it. Luckily, it has never come to this.

    What bugs me more about street photography are security guards chasing me away from public places because I work with a tripod. I've never heard so many idiotic reasons for not taking photos - all of them passed on down from paranoid company directors. But, that's another thread ...
     
  40. Bruno,

    Are you arguing that none of us have tried any of our suggestions? If so, I think you need to reconsider. Many of the posts have been in jest. However, many offer pretty good advice (i.e. keep moving and don't engage an angry subject in any kind of debate).

    Jonas
     
  41. If so, Pico, then I don't understand your earlier argument that a doomed attempt to 'convert' a suspicious stranger to see street photography as valid could 'mess it up for the rest of us'. That is, if the subject is already so intransigent on the question, and will continue to always be sour toward any stranger who might point a camera their way, then what difference would it make how or whether one talks to them? How could doing so ruin the prospects for other public photographers in future?
    The subject may be adamant, but arguing with him/her on the spot under these conditions can only harden and deepen the person's attitude. Where once they might have a a flicker of hope that the photographer would be cooperative and understand the feelings, that hope is dashed. It gets worse.
    Add insult to injury (imagined or real). What could be easier to understand, except to one who makes life miserable to the rest of us>
     
  42. Pico, I think we agree that a chat with an angry subject should generally be brief, and
    should convey a sympathetic understanding that (s)he may have felt threatened or violated
    by our action, as well as our intent to not exploit the image we've made. Where we seem
    to differ is in whether it's ok for the photographer to a) use the image taken (or at least
    not promise to not use it), and/or b) convey any justification for our having taken the
    picture in the first place.

    I grant that some folks may be too angry to absorb a reasoned argument, but I think that,
    in many cases, people fear the photographer's intent moreso than the mere fact that an
    image of them has been taken. Someone else rightly noted that many 'photophobes'
    already know that they are being frequently recorded by public security cameras, and yet
    still appear publicly without much objection -- in that case, they know -why- (ostensibly)
    the images are being recorded. So, yes, an apology can help mitigate the subject's
    resentment...but so can, at least sometimes, an explanation.
     
  43. Don't feed into her anger, you did the right thing. I always carry business cards with me and when I get approached by someone asking what I'm doing the card seems to calm them down...they don't think I'm a stalker or some kind of freak. Another trick is don't make eye contact with the subject after you shoot the photo treat them as part of the environment.
     
  44. Jonas,

    I misused the word "arguing", I wanted to write "discussing"... sometimes non-native speakers do mistakes mixing up with the so-called "false friends". Sorry for that.

    What makes me smile is that everyone is giving suggestions that go in the opposite direction of what I consider street. But, anyhow, everyone is entitled to have his own approach... and I don't want to share mine, either.
     
  45. >>>What makes me smile is that everyone is giving suggestions that go in the opposite
    direction of what I consider street. But, anyhow, everyone is entitled to have his own
    approach... and I don't want to share mine, either.<<<

    Exactly what I'm feeling. People saying use a telephoto, setup a tripod, name drop HCB,
    gotta be invisible etc...pretty lame and silly.
     
  46. Hmm. knowing some jogging women in this neighborhood, you could have been shot, shot repeatedly. And perhaps, after taking pictures of jogging women that is what might happen to you sooner than later.
     
  47. "...Should I set my 50mm aside and purchase a big telephoto lens or should I just work on my approach?..."...........nah, buy a 17mm and get even closer. You will occasionally get hassled. It comes with the territory. Never give your name....except if it's the police that shows you a badge. If telling them it's legal and what your intent is doesn't satisfy them, try bringing a little booklet of 4x6 street prints to show them what you do.

    If none of that works, nothing is going to work. Then it's time to ignore them, and walk away.
     
  48. "Exactly what I'm feeling. People saying use a telephoto, setup a tripod, name drop HCB,
    gotta be invisible etc...pretty lame and silly."
    Then what is street?
    IMO, defined by the work of HCB, ddoisneau, Erwit etc.
     
  49. There are only few people who gave good suggestions in this discussion: Ray, Brad, and Leslie. If you really want to do street. Forget the rest.
     
  50. Ops, Thomas as well.
     
  51. Pico asked, "Scott, would you have argued with her? Look, the lady was running! She's
    pumped, in her space and you want to argue with her? That's just silly."

    No, I don't argue, but if she kept insisting information about him, she initiated the
    argument, so it's fair to politiely say, "Excuse me, can you please let me know who you
    are? And your husband is officer... at what police station?" My first goal is always to get
    people to calm down, but if they don't I make it clear we can't talk until they do.

    Otherwise I would have just walked away. I've been in these situation at festivals and fairs
    when people come out to protest my photographing their stuff in the booth from the
    public walkway. I stay calm and explain my rights, and if they have any problems, I say ok,
    let's call the police and sort it out. I also carry a copy of the legal rights often cited here.
    And I've had people more or less threaten me doing street photography, we've all been
    there. And there it's the same, be calm, but have an exit strategy if all else fails.

    Interesting thread and responses.
     
  52. Scott, I don't see any real people on the street pictures in your home page, just long-lens
    stuff of public events, and so-forth. Got any evidence of real people pics, up-close and
    personal?
     
  53. Bruno, interesting web address you have. "Canned hate". Why?
     
  54. "Bruno, interesting web address you have. "Canned hate". Why?"

    Say that I had a bad idea and now I am condemned to stick to it.

    Reason 1: http://www.cannedheatmusic.com/

    Reason 2: http://www.peterbagge.com/
     
  55. Good answer, Bruno! I was just a bit concerned lest it reflected some part of your mission in street photography, but I admit the galleries don't bear out my concern.
     
  56. Bruno's idea of using a wide angle and not a telephoto is a poor suggestion to often I see photojournalist rely on the wide angle lens to make the photo interesting. Fill the frame with content not funky fish bowl perspectives.
    00JXfB-34453384.jpg
     
  57. Bruno's idea of using a wide angle and not a telephoto is a poor suggestion to often I see photojournalist rely on the wide angle lens to make the photo interesting.
    These were shot using a 10-22mm lens, many just a couple of feet from the subjects.
    Couldn't imagine shooting the event with a 135mm from way down the street, or out of a window. That's more like stalking...
     
  58. Well, 17mm on DX sensor has the same FOV as 28mm on 35mm film. I don't see any funky fish bowl perspectives over there, and you get 14mm rectilinear in which distortion is only residual. So I do not understand your comment.
    If the only way you have to use a 28mm is making funky stuff, then you have a problem.
    [​IMG]a>

    I took this with a 28mm.
     
  59. Hey, pretty stuff Brad, not your top-notch but a neat reportage.
     
  60. >>>Luke Neher , jan 15, 2007; 06:17 a.m. I often just explain, concisely what street photography is. Drop the name Bresson, explain how is most famous photo involves a guy and a puddle, a guy he didn't know. If it's digital, delete it for em. If its film, promise not to use it. If they say it's illegal, tell the truth, it isn't. And don't listen to whiners who say a shot of someone jogging aint interesting, maybe not if they made it. With practice and creativity you can make a masterpiece of a jogger. Those people are 'haters' ;)>>To Leslie Luke Neher , jan 16, 2007; 05:17 a.m. "Exactly what I'm feeling. People saying use a telephoto, setup a tripod, name drop HCB, gotta be invisible etc...pretty lame and silly." Then what is street? IMO, defined by the work of HCB, ddoisneau, Erwit etc. 00JXnQ-34455484.jpg
     
  61. Love the light Bruno and Brad is taking "protest" photos:) weird but cool!
     
  62. Wide angle lenses are important and should be carried on one camera and a telephoto on the other. To shoot only with wide angle you are decreasing the ability to adjust DOF. The mistake I see many photographers making is the use of ultra wide shots and leaving 75% of the frame full of useless content. I took this shot at 28mm on Friday.
    00JXoy-34455684.jpg
     
  63. Hey Jonathan,

    I can offer you a 3 day 28mm workshop for 1000 Euros here in Germany. Accommodation and travel at your expense, but you can process film in my darkroom.

    If you succeed in doing street in Germany, you'll be able to do it wherever in the world.
     
  64. I guess DAH, Nachtwey and most street/doc folks got it all wrong. They should trade their
    wides for 70-200mm.
     
  65. Bruno,

    You mean we can buy your skills? It seems expensive, but I figure if one spreads the cost over the number of great photos we'll take, the price is insignificant. Just joking, in case that doesn't make it through the language filter. But, man, that is a harsh proposal. OT: is shooting in Germany really that difficult? That might make for an interesting discussion. The differences in shooting in various cultures/environments.

    Jonas
     
  66. Bruno,

    How is next week?
     
  67. Bruno,

    One last thing what qualifies you to teach classes on photography? Your photo of the man with the shovel doesn't tell much of a story. Is this a self portrait and where you trying to dig up Henri Cartier-Bresson's body?
     
  68. This is one ugly thread.
     
  69. To Jonathan Jones:
    That photo is underexposed and wholly uninteresting. Telephotos do not belong in street
    because street is a game you never stop playng, you need a versatile lens. How is your
    70-200 going to be much use when someone is a meter away on the train. Also,
    telephoto shots reak of telephoto, and make it very hard to have more expansive
    compositions, like brads shot. I haven't seen your other work, but I'll make my
    judgements based on the shot you use to endorse telephotos. You did after all post it in a
    thread with high viewership, implying that this was an example of a good teleshot.

    To Bruno.
    That is an extraordinary street shot. Id really love to see the actual print, but internet will
    suffice. Surprised more people have not commented on it.

    To Leslie.
    No gun and run, no invisibility, no telephoto, no sneaking around and no need to name
    drop HCB...just shoot when you see something of your interest.
    I largely agree with you except.
    Invisibility is ofen necessary to avoid eye contact or ruining a moment. Of course it's often
    only worth it to remain invisible to your subject. If you want to take a photo of a few
    things in one small area, it's worth it to be a ghost. Even in your shot, which I'll get to
    later, the eye contact is slightly distracting.
    HCB naming: This is a practical solution that has worked time and time again for novice
    street photographers who get in conflicts. It works by allowing your subject to understand
    why they were photographed. What have we here, a novice street photographer, in a
    conflict. Gee maybe i should suggest something. The better you get, the less intimidated
    you get by narky subjects, and you get more inclined to create crazy lies, or say you only
    speak itialian. But the fun starts only when you get less shy.
    As for the whiner hater thing, that was directed at anyone who said that a jogger isn't
    interesting. Can't remember if you said that. But my point is that street, is often about
    average everyday scenes. It's worth noting that early street photographers often just went
    out to capture everyday life, though more unusual shots come with that territory. And
    even if you think street is only about capturing the very interesting or unusual on the
    street, that is a conflict of definition and just the fact that photographers have become
    famous and well renouned for photos of everday things, like joggers, indicates that they
    can be very interesting subjects, and beautiful ones.
    As for the shot:
    A very nice street shot me thinks. Only beefs are the eye contact from the people on the
    left, and i think it's slightly too dark on the face.
     
  70. IN that passage i meant to say:
    Expansive compositions like in BRUNO's shot. Not brad's.
     
  71. "3 day 28mm workshop for 1000 Euros here in Germany"
    Hey Bruno don't you have a more honest way to gather money to pay your next plane ticket...? Seriously what can one learn about SP, "except get a camera, shoot a roll, learn from your mistakes, start again" ad libidem... The late great Garry Winogrand used to offer SP workshops : how many famous SP-ers rose from this : none...
    Justin : have you tried bad breath? NO ONE will keep asking you questions after 5-10 seconds. Then, free as a bird! :)
     
  72. Luke, thanks a lot. That print will be on exhibition starting from the 18th of March in Leer, a town in northern Germany... you can fly to visit the show and we can also arrange a workshop ;)

    Kidding... I love being arrogant and see how far people will follow. Not kidding about the exhibition, that is true.
     
  73. mike dixon

    mike dixon Moderator

    HCB naming: This is a practical solution that has worked time and time again for novice street photographers who get in conflicts. It works by allowing your subject to understand why they were photographed.
    I agree that a simple, calm explanation of what you're doing when someone asks can defuse confrontations, but you must photograph more-photographically-sophisticated subjects than I do if dropping the name Cartier-Bresson does anything other than draw blank stares. If people are familiar with HCB, they'll understand when you say you're doing street photography; if they're not familiar with HCB, they'll wonder why in the hell you're talking about some jeweler.
     
  74. All but a couple of the responders here are keyboard impressionists trying to pose.

    Show your stuff or give it a rest.
     
  75. Agree with Mike - I could ask 50 people on the street in San Francisco who HCB was, and
    wouldn't be surprised if only one knew.
     
  76. Yeah, of course people won't know who he is, but your average middle class person will
    understand if you explain to them who he was.
    That said, don't explain to thuggish types. Just agree and appease.
     
  77. I could ask 50 people on the street in San Francisco who HCB was, and wouldn't be surprised if only one knew.
    What an interesting test. Would do that for us, please?
    You could take it throughout the USA and the measure would be when you finally get punched in the nose. Best work from West to East. :)
     
  78. From west to east????
    AS IF!
    He'd get punched in the nose as soon as he started.
    The games only fun if it builds in risk. And the only way that happens is if he stupider
    people come last!
     
  79. >I could ask 50 people on the street in San Francisco who HCB was, and wouldn't be
    surprised if only one knew.

    I was actually in Paris a couple years back and the angry subject decided to explain to me
    the then new French privacy law. I very politely explained to him I was creating art like his
    fellow country man HCB. By golly this guy didn't know who HCB was nor any of the famous
    French photographers. I am not fluent in French but I knew I didn't mispronounce these
    names.
     
  80. No, Jonathan. I like HCB but he's not (anymore) among my favorites. I prefer much more Nachtwey, Pellegrin, Majoli, and Kratochvil. Not to mention Araki and Moriyama, Mary Ellen Mark and others.

    It just happens that they are all living, so I cannot shovel out their bodies. But if you like, you can commit suicide, I will include you among my references and then shovel out your body.

    Can I put your head over the fireplace?
     
  81. Oh, *X&$#**X&$#**X&$#**X&$#*, I don't have a fireplace... forget it.
     
  82. I've been recently asked by a co-worker to take her out to the and teach her how to take SP photos. I told her I would in exchange for lunch out someplace on days we shoot. She agreed. Why didn't I ask for money? Simply because I didn't think one could actually teach SP. I think the most important aspect is confidence and getting over the initial nervousness of engaging in what is a invasive activity. She will see things differently then me so there's no way one can say "ok shoot that person there" and expect them to understand why.

    I was also asked by a highschool photography teacher to bring in some of my 16x20s and discuss them with his classes but I never heard back form him. Again, what can I say? "OK class this is a photo of a man on a bench. And this is a lady in a doorway." I'd be lucky if the class wasn't asleep by the time my "lecture" was over.
    Still, it was a nice compliment to be even considered for this.
     
  83. Luke, The Abortion protest photo could be a bit brighter, but that's how I took it, and it was purchased by the Anti Abortion group. I say again that only Telephoto is not the way to go, but it should be part of your gear. I run into tons of news photogrpahers most carry a 70-200 on one camera and a wide angle of some kind on the other. I know news photography is not street, but you have to react and compose much the same in both styles of shooting. I have no issue with wide angle lenses but they have their place. Here is a wide shot I took hope you like it.
    00JYeL-34467884.jpg
     
  84. JJ,

    Utterly boring composition. The subjct is dead center, which isn't always a problem, but it is here. You should have posted the breast shot instead.
     
  85. Utterly boring composition
    I agree. I don't think any of Jonathan's 3 shots have been strong examples of street photography. Where's the tension, or the dramatic framing, or pull that attracts the viewer into the frame? I suspect that its probably difficult to include these ingredients using a telephoto approach. And Jonathan, your sole wide angle shot still seems to be taken with a telephoto mindset. It would have been improved for being taken from less than 4 feet, rather than 12 feet.
    For my money, the best example of classic street photography on this page is from Leslie. Bruno's comes a close second. Street photography is an aesthetic. Not just photos taken on the street.
    Of course, this doesn't mean I can do it any better. I wish I could, but sad truth is I can't. But I do know what a good street image is supposed to look like....and I do know you need to be close enough to engage with the subject.
     
  86. More to the point is that it is a staged event intended to be photographed. A real
    documentary photograph, or series, would include the people who are viewing it with their
    faces, indications of concern, indignancy, distain, disinterest, amusement and so-forth.

    It's what we call a Photo Opportunity. An easy shot. A cheap shot.
     
  87. "Luke, The Abortion protest photo could be a bit brighter, but that's how I took it,"
    Yeah you took it underexposed.
    "I say again that only Telephoto is not the way to go, but it should be part of your gear. I run into tons of news photogrpahers most carry a 70-200 on one camera and a wide angle of some kind on the other."
    if you are a pj, it should definitely be apart of your gear. But street is very different to photojournalism. Your subjects don't expect to be photographed, and you need to be discreet, how can you be discreet with two digital slrs and a massive zoom lens. A zoom causes far more trouble then its worth.
    " have no issue with wide angle lenses but they have their place. Here is a wide shot I took hope you like it."
    What pico and updyke said goes just aswell for me about this shot. It's not really a good representations of street.
     
  88. Thanks again to all who contributed.

    Part of my trouble with street photography is the fact that I live in a very small town (population of about 7,000). One cannot easily blend in and become part of the environment when one is often the only person on a given block aside from the photographic subject. Though as some suggested, a more discreet camera would help. Or perhaps I will just have to move to the city...
     
  89. Part of my trouble with street photography is the fact that I live in a very small town (population of about 7,000).
    How far away is the nearest big city with a population >250K? Driveable? Or find some cheap airline tix to NYC or San Francisco.
     
  90. I never said that was street photography just a wide shot and it was taken at 28mm. The photo had to be centered how would you get the banner the woman to the left and the girl in the shot. I'm no street photog, but join the little contest and put me in my place! :)
     
  91. Shoot within your elements...
     
  92. To each their own - I guess you are free to choose your own compromise between righteously defending your rights to photograph as you choose, and trying to avoid a confrontation in the first place. If like me you'd lean towards the latter, perhaps you could try being a little more inconspicuous.

    This does NOT mean sneaking up on people or acting weird. In fact, part of being inconspicuous is being confident in yourself. If you act timid as if you feel you are doing something wrong, you're more likely to evoke a 'creepy' response from others. So be confident.

    Some people assume that if there is no flash then you didn't take a photo - particularly indoors or when it isn't sunny. Even when people ask me to take their photo, if it doesn't flash they often ask if I really took it. If you are using flash, then, just be aware that you're more likely to draw attention to yourself.

    Try not to concentrate on just one person. If there is only one jogger in the park and you are taking a photo of them, it is going to be more uncomfortable for her. If there were several people then she wouldn't feel 'singled out' as it were. Perhaps if there is nobody else then take some photos of trees or animals in addition to taking her photo. If you are taking photos and you see someone coming, avoid walking up to them to take a photo. Walking up to them is a confrontation, and can make them feel uncomfortable. If you are confident enough you can strike up a conversation and then take a photo but you may not be. So I guess just try not to make it obvious.

    People are also less likely to think 'potential pervert' when they see you if you dress nicely and are reasonably well groomed. I don't mean dress formally. Just if wearing casual clothes, don't wear the ones that might make you look like a creep.

    Other people's suggestions like using a telephoto (though that will rarely give the desired effect) or using a waist level viewfinder are good ones - as is having a smaller camera in general.
     
  93. Tell her that her jogging pants make her butt look big and leave.
    00Q6xU-55523684.jpg
     

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