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09-26-2018, 03:20 PM - 1 Like   #1
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Sticking your lens in someone's face...

Admittedly, the photographic equivalent of a "thorn in my side" is street photography. I've never felt completely comfortable sticking a lens in someones face or invading their personal space while taking a picture. On some occasions I've actually approached a subject on the street, struck up a conversation, and afterwards asked if I could take their picture. Granted, the entire mood of the scene changed in that the subject now aware they're being photographed, acted completely different than what would have been expected. On the other hand, I've taken pictures without a subject's initial knowledge only to be verbally or physically harassed after the fact - sometimes by the subject or by others close by. This is often the norm when shooting in certain New York neighborhoods. Trying to dissuade said photographic subjects from beating me into a pulp by calmly informing them of my first amendment rights can be hit or miss... no pun intended.


When I leave my apartment with the intent of street shooting these days, I usually carry a very small and discrete camera such as an Olympus OMD E-M10 Mark III with an Oly 25mm prime (50mm equivalent). Even then, there are times when I wished I had walked with my K1-II and Pentax 70-200 for those moments when you need to reach out and touch someone without getting in their face - but their lies the crux of the biscuit; the K1-II with a grip is no small camera and the Pentax 70-200 f2.8 is the equivalent of a Howitzer. I don't know if it's just me, but it feels like the moment I raise the viewfinder to my eye with that combination, everyone around me becomes instantly aware that I'm about to take their picture. For what it's worth, this also happened when I was shooting with Canon gear... probably more so since white L lenses are terrible when it comes to urban camouflage.


The irony is that when I'm actually taking pictures for a paid assignment, I don't care. I use the excuse (credentials also help greatly, except when dealing with Secret Service) that I'm just doing my job. But when I take pictures for my own pleasure, that's where the uncertainty and doubt creep in.


So what do you fine ladies and gentlemen do when facing an uncomfortable moment on the street? Do you take the picture anyway or just keep moving? I'm eager to hear your thoughts.


P.S. as this is an international forum with members from around the world, it should be noted that according to the US law, no one has the expectation or imbued right of privacy in public. Photographing subjects on public property such as sidewalks is completely legal in the eyes of the law. US law differs from many countries such as France, Austria, or Switzerland where the right to take someone's photo in a public venue is protected by the Constitution under the First Amendment. Other countries, particularly those in Europe require either written or verbal consent prior to actuating the shutter.

09-26-2018, 03:47 PM - 3 Likes   #2
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This youtube video is a good start I reckon, finding good scenes is a big part of it. Waiting in a spot for an appropriate thing is better, the people around see you with a camera and have time to be more comfortable or get used to you being there.

Many people allow themselves to be freaked out or influenced by media stories, so there will be the odd person that complains, simply delete the image, basically they are insecure, but most people won't mind, that is how I see it here.
Getting back to the youtube for ideas. As there are too many, just, shots of the street with people in it. What makes it interesting is the job for the photographer. Maybe have a certain story to tell eg. Bill Cunningham wanted to tell the story of fashion on the streets. When you have a mission it is easier to tell people what you are doing, if they ask, than if someone is just doing random shots of people, as such, with no story.
Discreet camera is better.

Last edited by beachgardener; 09-26-2018 at 03:53 PM.
09-26-2018, 03:48 PM   #3
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I was thinking if someone actuallly struck the lens in someones face..... I did punch the back of the head of someone with the lens (lens hood actually), its not that im proud of that, but, it put a smile on my face, 100% i will do it again

Topic related, yes, its a diferent things when you try to take pictures of people on the street, raise your camera and everyone notice you, and some people will tell you to do not take pictures of them, its uncommon but it happen
09-26-2018, 04:11 PM - 3 Likes   #4
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Honestly, I don't like doing anything that I wouldn't like done to me. Which makes things pretty limiting, as I'm very protective of my privacy and personal comfort in going about my day-to-day life. I can live with being on CCTV or part of a general scene that someone is capturing, as I have nothing to hide... but I don't like being the primary subject. As such, I'm happy taking photographs with people in them, but if one or more individuals are the primary subject, I'd want their explicit or implied permission before taking a shot. That could be something as simple as me holding up my camera and them nodding and smiling, or might involve a short request or conversation.

If someone stuck a lens in my face, I'd carefully but firmly push their camera away and make it very clear that I didn't appreciate the intrusion and wouldn't accept it. Regardless of legalities, there's a matter of courtesy which is so often forgotten, but extremely important to me.

09-26-2018, 04:36 PM - 1 Like   #5
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For the sake of comparisons, here's an example of the two cameras mentioned earlier.





I guess I'd feel uncomfortable as well with the Pentax being pointed at me.

Last edited by amstel78; 09-26-2018 at 04:49 PM.
09-26-2018, 05:39 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by beachgardener Quote
Bridging the Gap: Classical Art Designed for Photographers - YouTube

This youtube video is a good start I reckon, finding good scenes is a big part of it. Waiting in a spot for an appropriate thing is better, the people around see you with a camera and have time to be more comfortable or get used to you being there.

Many people allow themselves to be freaked out or influenced by media stories, so there will be the odd person that complains, simply delete the image, basically they are insecure, but most people won't mind, that is how I see it here.
Getting back to the youtube for ideas. As there are too many, just, shots of the street with people in it. What makes it interesting is the job for the photographer. Maybe have a certain story to tell eg. Bill Cunningham wanted to tell the story of fashion on the streets. When you have a mission it is easier to tell people what you are doing, if they ask, than if someone is just doing random shots of people, as such, with no story.
Discreet camera is better.
Thanks for the video. Going to give it a thorough watch now.

BTW, what part of OZ are you from? I grew up in Toorak, Melbourne VC but moved to the states eons ago.
09-26-2018, 06:32 PM   #7
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With that telephoto lens, I don't see why you need to be close to anyone. Find a spot where you won't attract attention, and focus on those father away. Either that or use a Pentax Q and shoot from the hip for the closeups.
09-26-2018, 06:35 PM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by arnold Quote
With that telephoto lens, I don't see why you need to be close to anyone. Find a spot where you won't attract attention, and focus on those father away. Either that or use a Pentax Q and shoot from the hip for the closeups.
At 70mm FF, you still need to be within a reasonable distance from your subject, especially wide open.

09-26-2018, 07:02 PM - 1 Like   #9
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It's not just the size, it's having to point straight at someone with a longer lens. I've tried shooting in the city with the M 135/f3.5 (film) or with the 55-300 plm (apsc); they're both much smaller lenses than your 70-200, yet more noticeable than normal or wider lenses, in my experience. Maybe I'm just a 35-50mm equivalent guy, because I don't really like using very wide lenses for street either.
09-26-2018, 07:10 PM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by aaacb Quote
It's not just the size, it's having to point straight at someone with a longer lens. I've tried shooting in the city with the M 135/f3.5 (film) or with the 55-300 plm (apsc); they're both much smaller lenses than your 70-200, yet more noticeable than normal or wider lenses, in my experience. Maybe I'm just a 35-50mm equivalent guy, because I don't really like using very wide lenses for street either.
Agreed. Anything wider than 35mm is difficult for me to utilize for street photography - even in Manhattan. As such, I generally stick to 50mm or longer lenses. However with my Pentax cameras, even the *50 is a big lens; the 70-200 even more so as the picture shows. Basically, if I want to remain as discrete as possible, I'm left with little options other than to shoot with the Olympus.

But I digress because it's not really about the gear, but about techniques to get over the fear of possibly encroaching on someone's "personal space" in order to get the shot. I know some guys who just DGAF and will do whatever it takes to make the picture but I'm not like them... I want to know how those with similar reservations overcome them and what they use to do so.
09-26-2018, 07:19 PM   #11
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. GR iii

09-26-2018, 07:25 PM - 1 Like   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by amstel78 Quote
I want to know how those with similar reservations overcome them and what they use to do so.
Well, my take on this is: busy people notice less of what's around them, and they're also likely to be more interesting. So I sometimes find it simpler to shoot groups (pairs or so on) than individuals. Individuals either look at their phone (and that doesn't add much to the photo imo) or look around themselves, likely at me with a camera But this is a more recent thought that I'm trying to experiment with, most of my "street" photos are of individuals.
09-26-2018, 07:55 PM   #13
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Hi James

Trick yourself into thinking everytime you are out photographing that it is a paid job.
No sense of guilt then

Dave
09-26-2018, 08:38 PM   #14
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For candid street photos (as opposed to posed portraits) in crowded cities like New York, I prefer to use a wide lens and shoot from the hip. People are moving around and there's rarely time to carefully compose.

I've tried it at a few different focal lengths. 28mm works well (18mm on APS-C) with a nice balance of person and surroundings, giving some breathing room to crop for composition if needed. Practice helped me become more relaxed. Many of my street candids are done from around 2 meters away while people move past me, so I'm not staring and stalking people to make them uncomfortable, and most never realize I took a photo.

21mm is too wide and shows too much street not enough person. 35 is too narrow; I am too likely to cut off a head or get otherwise unusable compositions when shooting from the hip. I also experimented with telephoto and careful composition, but narrow depth of field, dealing with unpredictable movement, and blocking pedestrians while I try to get the ideal moment didn't feel right. That's how I settled on 28mm; I take a shot, hope it's good, and delete the bad ones later.

Here's evidence of a minor confrontation. He was talking at me but his words were muffled under the mask. I took the photo and continued moving where I was already going. I'm unsure if he was complaining about the photo or ranting about something unrelated.
09-26-2018, 08:50 PM   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by amstel78 Quote
BTW, what part of OZ are you from?
Originally from Stirling in the Adelaide Hills, now North Coast NSW.
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