Anyone ever do street photography without a word?

Discussion in 'Street and Documentary' started by michael_novo, Dec 16, 2009.

  1. After a workshop early this year I tried a variety of times to shoot without saying a word and it never seems to fail. I wrote more here. Curious to see if anyone else has done it?
  2. but as soon as the subject they’re shooting looks over at them, they quickly lower their lens​
    yes, I shoot regularly without exchanging a word with the people I shoot but on the whole it depends and I've had some great encounters out there as well. But the kind of streetshooter you describe in that quote isn't a streetshooter to begin with, merely a tourist.
  3. "Without a word", you have the legality issues as well to deal with. Without a very identifiable people's written consent, you are opening yourself up to a can of worms if you publish them on the www and they object.
    Jus' sayin'
  4. No I'm not. I can take anyones photo I like and publish them on the web. I'm not selling these photos, making a profit from them, misrepresenting them, or implying anything anything about the person or their character. I'm familiar enough with the law to know that I am not violating it.
  5. "...but as soon as the subject they’re shooting looks over at them, they quickly lower their lens. Why is that?"
    More often, Michael, it's because they've ruined the shot. They become aware of something that changed their expression or caused them to stop doing what they were doing. I agree with Ton (I'm not sure they're tourists, though. I think their Uncle gave them a camera when they were in their early 20s). But it's not a dilemma as far as I can tell. I like talking to people when I'm out shooting but never before I shoot them.
  6. I have been busy and not on here in awhile. But, here goes. I shoot street. I love shooting street portraits of people being themselves, acting and looking themselves; not posed. So, I say nothing to them before or when I am shooting.
    I do approach most of them, all of them that I can, and show them the photos I had taken prior. 99% of the love the photos and request I email them some. Only a couple of people ever asked me to erase them and no one ever became angry.
    But, I do not say anything until after the photo is shot
  7. Without a very identifiable people's written consent, you are opening yourself up to a can of worms if you publish them on the www and they object.​
    Good god, not this again.
  8. << ... "Without a word", you have the legality issues as well to deal with. Without a very identifiable people's written consent, you are opening yourself up to a can of worms if you publish them on the www and they object.
    Jus' sayin' ... >>
    Nope. That caution generally does not apply to the U.S. As a general matter, there is no prohibition against taking, publishing (on the web or otherwise), and even selling (as works of art) photographs of identifiable persons on the public street -- all without the consent of the person(s) photographed. On the public street (vs. for example the public restroom stall), there is no reasonable expectation of privacy.
    Now there are some specific exceptions, including photos published for commercial purposes or trade (think endorsements or ads), or "false light" cases (think of a photo of an identifiable person with a caption describing a 'notorious drug corner' when the person photographed is in fact not involved in the drug trade).
    For helpful info, take a look at Bert Krages' publication, a short summary of which is found here:
  9. It's a non-issue w/me. Sometimes I talk, often I don't.
  10. Hardly ever, its just not my style.I like to capture fleeting moments.Stopping them changes the dynamics of the situation and you end up with them mugging for the camera with some goofy smile.In answer to the original posting ,yes most people will agree to be photographed if approached,even with just hand signals .Especially if it is at a public event.
  11. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    you end up with them mugging for the camera with some goofy smile​
    You might. Some of us don't have this problem. It's about how you interact on the street with people.
  12. Also, Jeff, it's what you're intent is when you're out there taking pictures. Oftentimes I'm not after the particular subject but interested in what that person is doing or the look that crosses their face or even their juxtaposition to objects animate or inanimate. Either way, we go with our strengths.
  13. Capturing candid moments means that every situation is going to be different, so to answer your specific question regarding talking or not...sometimes I do, but most times I don't. There have also been times that after the initial photo(s) was taken, and the subject happened to notice, I wound up in some very genial conversations. I've also shared email addresses with a few people with promises to send them photos. One of my very favorite models(used to be a glamour photog) was walking down the street...thought she was stunning, took a few unnoticed photos of her then decided I just had to say something. The result was some very successful photo shoots.
  14. Point taken Jeff.I know in your situation when you are on the clock covering an event you just can,t wait for things to happen.When its a paid gig I also set up shots and direct behavour,but for my own work hardly ever.
  15. Let me just clear up...often in my street photography I do go for candid style shooting. The purpose of approaching people to me was simply to become comfortable in the approach and general interaction. Thinking back to some of the first times I did street photography when I was juuuust getting started, that's when I would be more cautious. So this approach is just for practice...when I do it, I don't often expect any world class photos :)
  16. One's approach to making a picture - talking to the subject or not, standing close or not, sneaking about or not, smiling or not, quickly shooting or lingering, being in a good or bad mood... the list goes on. These are the myriad things that affect the final image. These types of decisions are incredibly personal and have no right or wrong answer. Course there's nothing wrong with trying on a different pair of shoes if that's what someone wants to do.
  17. I find it easier using live view on my Canon DSLR or my very old Zeiss Ikoflex when I don't attract their attention by looking directly at the subject.
    Jim Ducey
  18. The only time you really need the persons permission is if you show their face I believe & it's recognizable,don't worry be happy....
  19. Come on Michael. no permission needed ever on US streets, faces, recognizable or not.
    Except when you sell your pic for commercial use ... advertising etc .. Then you need to pay the subjects or get a release from them if you are cheap ... For art, www, publications, exhibitions etc : nothing, nada.
  20. On the street, a public place, there is no expectation of personal privacy, so a photographer needs no permission to shoot and post on the web. It's just tough stuff for those that object to having their picture taken. However, one has to be very comfortable with confrontation to proceed in this manner. So know, there will occasionally be someone in your face.
    I never interact verbally with anyone unless they approach me, then I get the chance to be a little obstreperous.
  21. I was obstreperous once. It took 2 courses of antibiotics to get rid of it.
  22. I've spent a decades doing this. I think that, bottom line, it's about respecting people. On the other hand, if you don't push the envelope, your pictures will never be any good.
    I pass up great shots if I think the other person will feel "dissed", and would be happy to erase if they ever demanded it. (Never happenned.)
    One way to do it is places where pictures are taken anyway. Like the zoo. It is insane how many people fail to realize the photo ops of people at the local zoo.
  23. For me; it is I am not able to obtain the TRUE person in a photograph if I speak to them first. I will speak to them after the shots; and some of them are remarkable especially if you consider they were shot on the street with no flash, natural light and catching that one moment glimpse of who they really are. I do not think I give up their quality by shooting this way. I do always, when I can, as I previously stated, speak to the subject. I have had a few subjects then contact me and request that I come shoot their families and themselves.
    As far as if a person sees me shooting and they signal to me they do not want to be photographed I will always erase the photos taken and walk away out of respect for the subjects. Now we are going to get into another hughla here about this. But, first, regarding privacy and selling photos. There are some very good books out there on this subject; I keep several close by. I do also keep a copy of the photographers rights in my camera bag.
    Now, if you are selling the photos you had taken, for your own good you must have a release; period. If you are not selling the photos and the photos were taken in a public location you do not need a release; in the US that is. But read the books they will explain.
    Hughla;;;;Do we take the shot if the shot is important? no matter what? such as a car wreck. Many before spoke on this. We all have our opinions here. If if is clear that someone is injured and they need help I will lay it down and help them. Now if there are people around running up to help the people in the car; I will take the shot. Situations will tell which I would do. Take it or not Take it; now that is the question.
  24. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    Jeff.I know in your situation when you are on the clock covering an event you just can,t wait for things to happen.​

    Nothing to do with work or not. I only shoot on the street because it's part of my life. I talk to people whether I'm shooting or not. I'd rather be part of what I'm shooting, like Larry Clark, than an anonymous sniper.
  25. What would Cartier-Bresson do if he lived now? I suppose he'd be sued for taking someone's photo without permission, and then be arrested for being a terrorist. I am way on the side of personal rights, but somehow I feel like society has lost sight of the value of art if we are really going after some guy trying to capture a decisive moment with his or her camera in a public space. Are we really having this conversation? As Perry Farrell said, we'll make great pets!
  26. Jeff like Larry Clark eh!.I bet your friends and neighbours are a lot more interesting than mine!.My style is more like Bruce Gilden up close and personel. More hit man than sniper.{;~)
  27. The only thing I can add is to use a wide to normal lens. Using a long lens from across the street especially while hiding behind something will arouse much more of the wrong kind of attention from others in the vicinity.
  28. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    your friends and neighbours​
    Friends , heh... (linked since photo is not really relevant to thread)
  29. Nice one Jeff.
  30. I never talk to the people I photograph on the street. I wasnt aware this was even an issue.
  31. Sometimes I get the shot without them seing me.
    other times I get spotted.
    Either way i don't say anything.
    Unless I really really want the shot and they've already seen me and I can't get it without sasking them. So i do. usually they let me. but even then, since some of those shots came from countries where i don't spoeak the language, the "words" consisted of me holding up ,my camera with eyerows raised in silent "Ok?" And like as not they'll nod (also silently) and let me shoot the picture. This one was in Norway...
  32. Marc: why hide? You sound so sinister, creaping out of a trash can or something. Why not just walk and shoot what you see in your eyes as you picture it in a photo; stopping that one moment of perfection.
    Matt: I think the shot of the worker would be much better if he were not posed for the shot. And, I love black and white. Would not the photo tell more of the story if he were working? versus standing looking at the camera? How do you know what he is actually doing if you were not there? Perfect example of get the shot, then go see them and show them.
    By the way Matt: I love your first photo.
  33. "It's about how you interact on the street with people". Jeff Spirer
    It is my way .It depends on the situation. I'm not hiding. Sometimes they don't see me,but if they do and say no, I respect it. I sometime ask permission before shooting, and sometime after shooting, if they saw me and ask, I will talk with them ,show them what I took and so far did not have problems.
    Michael S.thanks for the link, interesting reading as well as the different points of view.
  34. Actually James I was referring to the number of times I've been with other photographers who are beginners at SP and rely on telephoto lenses and shooting around corners to avoid being spotted. Having seen this, I can readily see how folks would get more suspicious of a photographer then if he/she was part of the scene. I always use wide to standard lenses myself, and because I prefer to crop in the camera before shooting, I tend to get in close when I want to take a shot. Yep, that's me - up close and personal lol!
    PS - Hiding in a trash can though does have a slight (smelly perhaps) appeal. Maybe you should design one for shy street photographers, get the patent, and have it sold wherever fine duck blinds are sold ;-)
  35. Marc, I couldn't agree more. Telework, given a few exceptions, is useless out there because simply put, you miss out on too much. What it all comes down to I guess is that if you don´t feel comfortable out there maybe it´s best to not be there in the first place.
    Regardless if you talk to them it helps if you feel comfortable around people, language barriers notwithstanding.
  36. That's not my style. What I enjoy the most about photography is to know and learn. During years I was shooting mainly landscapes, but from last year I began to photograph people and their context. I try to be a serious amateur, but I focus more on talk and share than in return with lots of pics. Until now I've had very good moments by talking while with my camera is hanging from my shoulder, then I took a few photos and I continue to talk.
  37. I just press the big button of my cam which says…
    “press this big button to take a picture ”.
    That’s what it tells me to do in my Nikon Manual also to avoid direct lightening strikes or immersion in water……words of wisdom methinks from an inspired source.
    I’ve never really concerned myself with the “word” or anything else for that matter. I believe in the Nikon manual which has always been an inspiration to me:)
  38. some people might call you a fundamentalist and suggest you go to hell for that ;-)))
  39. James, the photo of the Norwegian worker is entirely unposed. He was having a cigarette break when I spotted him, standing just as he is in the photo. I couldn't get away with talking his picture without him seeing me, so i raised my camera and eyebrows, he nodded "ok", and i got the shot.
    I tried it in B&W, but I missed the sublte warmth of the fresh conmcrete and so left it in color.
    Thanks for the compliment regarding the 1st shot.
  40. I rarely ask when I'm going for candids. I call them "bus shots" because it works fabulously well when you're riding in the city, the bus stops, and you snap a few of whatever's outside the glass using a p&s.


    Both without a sound.

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