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05-27-2011, 05:00 AM   #1
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anyone else feel self-conscious?

I'm relatively new to this and one problem that keeps coming up and is sort of inhibiting me from getting some shots I'd like is self-consciousness.

I find when I'm out and about with my camera that I sometimes feel kind of awkward about getting out there and getting my shot. For example, if I'm driving along and see something I want to photograph, I'll pull over, but as I'm walking over to set myself up, I worry about the people in the cars going by and whether they are wondering what I'm doing or why I'm doing it. What if the property owner is looking and not happy?

Even when I was taking some photos on the grounds at work, I felt kind of odd about it. Like people were looking and wondering what I was up to. I have no idea how street photographers manage!

Does anyone else have to fight this feeling? How do you get past it? Or am I just weird?

05-27-2011, 05:13 AM - 1 Like   #2
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I do actually know how you feel & I'm not sure of a way to get over it yet.

The problem lies with how suspicious people are today (perhaps with good cause, perhaps whipped up by the media). If you're a photographer with a DSLR you are probably:

1 - Terrorist
2 - If you accidentally photography a child you're automatically a (potential) child molester

It is worse in the UK, cops there feel they have the right to bully anyone with a camera, especially those with DSLRs.

If you pull out a little point and shoot, nobody really cares, put your DSLR on a tripod, then suddenly that's a big issue. Shoot with your cellphone and nobody even notices.

I think DSLR spells 'Pro', especially with a tripod, therefore you're going to make money from these photos, therefore, the subjects should have a share of what you're going to make.

I don't know what the solution is. I wish the governments would get it into their minds that terrorists ALREADY have plans & photos of what they need.

I too admire those street photographers that manage to get those great people photographs. I think that's why I do more landscape, animal & machines (railroads). They don't object to what you're doing.

Thoughts from anyone else?
05-27-2011, 05:17 AM - 2 Likes   #3
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Why care about how other people feel as long as what you are doing is legal?
If you are on public property, you can pretty much photograph whatever you can see.
If anyone gets in your face about it, they are in the wrong, and you have the right to defend yourself.
Pull a gun and shoot em.
05-27-2011, 05:18 AM   #4
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Thank you, mtansley. Nice to know I'm not alone. That's a great point. I have thought about the terrorist angle. But I even feel strange if I'm out trying to get a shot of a field of hay bales along the side of a busy highway!

And yes, I'd never purposely take a shot of a child. I've heard of too many stories of very protective parents who didn't take too kindly to that!

05-27-2011, 05:19 AM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Wheatfield Quote
Why care about how other people feel as long as what you are doing is legal?
If you are on public property, you can pretty much photograph whatever you can see.
If anyone gets in your face about it, they are in the wrong, and you have the right to defend yourself.
Pull a gun and shoot em.
I will think of your reply next time I get this self-conscious feeling!
05-27-2011, 05:23 AM   #6
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Hmm, if you aren't armed perhaps we should all get some old 400-500mm lens to carry as batons.
05-27-2011, 05:40 AM   #7
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Can relate to you and also the comments made by mtansley - we have a similar situation in Australia with beaches and kids playgrounds etc where many actually believe you *can't * take photos. There are some councils that have bans on photos at beaches and parks and some restrictions otherwise but there is no "right to privacy" in Australia and usually what you see you can photograph. Exceptions include acts that might be seen as private such as undressing etc and, I think, military establishments and there are some weird restrictions around Sydney harbour. They even had restrictions at the Royal Easter Show in Sydney but relaxed them.
I like Wheatfield's approach. Something to ask yourself (and which I should do) is what you think if you'd see someone out with a fancy looking DSLR taking photos. Would you have negative impressions of them? If you step back do you really think anyone else would have negative impressions? Sure, there might be a few but they are entitled to think or assume whatever they like and you have no control over that at all.
I think the best is to just get out and do it and don't give a stu$$ about what others might or might not think - that's in their domain. Detach yourself from "others" and focus on what you are doing. If you feel like stopping by the side of the road to photograph a pair of sneakers hanging from an overhead power line then do it. Just don't stop in the middle of a highway.
A camera can give you freedom to go out and explore and see and capture "things" people miss or just pass by. Pretty nifty from a bit of technology.
05-27-2011, 05:41 AM - 1 Like   #8
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I know what you mean about this. If I'm with another photographer or two, I have no problem with this issue. If I'm by myself, I'm a lot more timid about where and what I shoot. Part of it is just me and part of it is that I don't want to arouse suspicion. Since I like shooting outdoors and landscapes, it is inevitable that I'm going to get people and things in my images that might not want to be photographed. So I tend to be careful about that. But a lot of times, I try to get that shot at a time and / or place where I can work relatively unobserved. Even though I'm in a public place and have every right to do what I do, I still prefer, mostly for my comfort, to work as unobserved as possible. So yes, I do feel self-conscious at times and no, I'm not going to take Wheatfield's most excellent solution to this problem.

05-27-2011, 05:43 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by loco Quote
But I even feel strange if I'm out trying to get a shot of a field of hay bales along the side of a busy highway!

And yes, I'd never purposely take a shot of a child. I've heard of too many stories of very protective parents who didn't take too kindly to that!
I do feel strange about taking field shots by the edge of the road. I just make sure I'm legally parked and hope no one decides to call 911 about that 'weirdo taking photos of cows, probably an activist of some type or a bovine molester'. That is the problem. In this era we live everyone seems to assume you're out to 'do' something, not just take photographs because you like the image. The funny thing is that if the person who thought you were weird actually was able to see the finished photo, they'd probably think, "That's nice.".

One advantage of there being so many more DSLRs like the inexpensive Canon & Nikons is that in a more crowded setting, you can photograph without anyone really noticing you. People in that setting are more used to seeing DSLRs everywhere.

I sometimes use a monopod which doesn't seem to get as much attention. I've thought of attaching a curved top to it so it looks like a walking stick. I'll have to experiment on that.

Or maybe it's all just me being too paranoid. I try not to be, but I know that everyone out there is trying to get me, especially all those people who own Pentaxes.

Michael
05-27-2011, 05:49 AM - 1 Like   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by loco Quote
I'm relatively new to this and one problem that keeps coming up and is sort of inhibiting me from getting some shots I'd like is self-consciousness.
Just keep on shooting and you'll get past it. You just need some experience to get more comfortable with what you're doing.

One of the best ways to get over this is go to a large public event. When and where there is something going on, there will be plenty of other photographers / people with cameras. You blend into the crowd and no one will single you out and question what you are doing. Under those conditions you will be more relaxed and from there you'll see things aren't much difference when you're shooting by yourself.

For road side shooting make sure you are parked safely out of the way and that you're not obstructing traffic.
05-27-2011, 05:51 AM - 1 Like   #11
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A few good tips here: Flickr: Discussing Feeling too self conscious to take street photos in RAW Street Photography
05-27-2011, 05:53 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by blackcloudbrew Quote
I know what you mean about this. If I'm with another photographer or two, I have no problem with this issue. If I'm by myself, I'm a lot more timid about where and what I shoot.
I wonder if part of this is that if we see a group of people doing anything, you generally ignore them because people do tend to congregate in groups (2 people, 3 people, 4 people and up). It's the solitary loner that we notice more.

If you see several folks with large DSLRs and tripods you might think 'Ahh, photo students, camera club, a couple of guys (or gals) that just spent their tax refund cheques', etc. It's the loner that people worry more about. If you see a LARGE group with DSLRs you automatically think 'tourists'.
05-27-2011, 06:19 AM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by loco Quote
<snip> But I even feel strange if I'm out trying to get a shot of a field of hay bales along the side of a busy highway! <snip>
Hmmm, lets see now. 10 gallons of diesel fuel + 1 bale of hay = 1 M80 (or something like that).
05-27-2011, 06:29 AM - 1 Like   #14
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I do feel self conscious sometimes, but I think street photography is a great piece of casual history to shoot. I get the occasional glare, but I just smile and shrug usually and that's the end of it. I think togs have to develop a thick skin and not worry too much, unless there's actually something worry about
05-27-2011, 06:40 AM - 2 Likes   #15
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As a photographer I want to be able to photography anything and everything I see. But as a person who has worked with kids and who is very conscious of her own personal privacy I don't think it's necessarily right to photograph certain things sans permission actually.

I love photographing old and interesting houses and children, but a lot of people get very funny about you photographing their property without permission and most parents do not like strangers taking pictures of their kids without asking either. Both for good reason. These days someone photographing your property could very well mean they're prepping for a robbery. Or they could be taking pics of your kids to sell or worse. You just never know.

I don't have a major problem with being on a public street and photographing most adults going about their business. But I do tend to ask a lot before I go there when I am taking portraits and I never ever photograph a child without explaining to the parent that I am learning to be a professional photographer and that I am basically practicing my informal shooting skills. In most cases I will offer to let them see what I am photographing, and to send them a copy if they like. If they strongly object to my photographing them or whatever it is, then I don't.

Artistic license IMHO is not an excuse to be rude. If it's going to make someone uncomfortable to be the focus of a picture then I don't take it, no matter how much I want to. I actually wouldn't want my picture taken sans permission and I'd object so I do have to be fair I think and ask.

I make only one major exception to that rule. If I am walking around in a heavily populated area and I spot someone doing something that is very much geared towards attracting attention then I don't feel too hesitant about snapping a pic or two. If some guy is going to walk around in drag like Marilyn Monroe I don't seriously think he's going to mind if I take his pic, you know? Ditto people walking around with brightly colored hair or totally uninhibited people who seem to think that kissing to the point of trying to inhale their partners tonsils is perfectly acceptable behavior in public.

I'm not perfect. I do have manners so most of the time I do ask, but every now and again I will just take the darned picture if I think I can get away with it too. Sometimes you just have to go for it and make your explanations later, shrug.
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