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Thread: Note to self

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Note to self

    Everyone has a process for growth and improvement. Occasionally, I imagine that everyone has little epiphanies along the way. Today I experienced a quiet little one while shooting the Memorial Day parade in the nearest "city" in our area large enough to hold such an event.

    What I realized is that I'm not the least bit timid when it comes to poking my lens right up the nose of a Gladiola. But when it comes to people, I'm a bit of a chicken. Shrubs, trees, fields, ponds, etc. are perfectly willing to sit there and wait for me to get myself and my gear right where I want it. But people!

    A day like today is sensory overload. My brain gets all slushy and fails to engage. How do I make sense of all this activity? It's not my gear, that works fine. And I have figured out the basics of how to use it. What seems to be missing is the concentration and the ability to visualize and then proceed with making a shot happen.

    So the epiphany for me (and by anyone else's measure it may seem pretty underwhelming) is that I have to work harder to pursue the shots I want. I have to shoot more so it's second nature to me and "I" am not as much of a factor. By that I mean the "I" that's self-conscious, or too polite, or too cautious about somehow invading another's space.

    I got some ok photos today, but I missed the ones I really wanted because I was too timid. I can still see them, almost in the same way you leave a party and continually run a conversation back in your mind with all the "should have saids" neatly in place.

    In any case, forward, eh?

    Thanks,
    Tim












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    Re: Note to self

    eventually the upset at not getting the picture you want becomes larger than the upset caused by confronting people and you see it as the easy way out...

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    Re: Note to self

    I am the exact same way Tim. It is a constant struggle for me. I like photographing people, but I still have a great deal of difficulty doing it. Perhaps you are the same way, but I grew up in a family where being considerate was driven into us -- do not bother people, think about the needs/feelings of others and so on. It is great, and it has served me well in life, but it makes it very hard to photograph someone when you think every 2 seconds about how much you might be inconveniencing them or making them uncomfortable. There are many people who excel at portrait photography because these things don't even enter into their minds. It is not that they are inconsiderate (though I suppose some may be), it is just that they don't worry about the person on the other side of the camera -- once they agree to be photographed (or even if they don't), then it is fine to just do what you do. You just have to try to adopt this mentality...at least partially.

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    Re: Note to self

    Hi Tim
    I love that first shot - splendid.
    I'm the same, but I don't find it much cause for regret, I forget the pictures I didn't dare take, and like Stuart (good post) it's been ingrained into me that one shouldn't intrude . . . . . but.

    What really bugs me is that I have a bunch of shots that the subjects might really like to have . . . . but I don't have the faintest idea who they might be.

    here are a couple at random:




    Just this guy you know

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: Note to self

    Thanks folks for your honesty. It's not just me then.

    I'm beginning to think that there's another way, a middle ground maybe, where making my own enthusiasm for taking pictures along with my own comfort factor with the process, evident enough to put others at ease. Part of the discovery came today when I went just a bit farther into the crowd than I would have normally. Nobody seemed to really notice that much. Or mind. It was at the point when I realized that fact which sponsored the regret. I could easily have gone to the next step but didn't.

    Maybe robertwright has it correct, the end might justify the means. I just have to discern exactly what my means will be.

    As for engaging in a dialog with the means to take names and addresses for sending copies to the interested parties later... well, I have some work to do before I get there.

    Best,
    Tim

    p.s. Nice surf shot Jono.

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    Re: Note to self

    Quote Originally Posted by TRSmith View Post

    Maybe robertwright has it correct, the end might justify the means. I just have to discern exactly what my means will be.

    As for engaging in a dialog with the means to take names and addresses for sending copies to the interested parties later... well, I have some work to do before I get there.

    .
    My problem is the end . . . not so much the means . . .maybe it's both!
    I'm still uncomfortable about it all (not to mention shy and embarrassed . . . well, you guys all know me that well)

    But I think the name and address thing really matters . . Here is another:



    Actually, this guy was right outside the shop where I bought the D3 - I think it was the first shot I took in 'anger'. He would surely like a copy of it . . . even if his mate might not have been quite as pleased about this one:



    I find it distressing that there isn't any way I have of getting copies to them.

    Maybe I should stick to the nature stuff!

    Just this guy you know

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    Re: Note to self

    Honestly, the closest thing I can think of is dating. The first few times you ask someone out, it is hugely intimidating. But if you keep at it, you realize there is not much to be afraid of. People might say no, but they rarely have any reaction other than being flattered. The same thing happens in photography. I generally just ask people if I can take their photo. Sometimes they say no...I just move on. But a lot of times they say yes. For example, I saw this woman on the L train in Brooklyn. I just thought she was really interesting looking and I wanted to photograph her. So I went up to her and said that I was a photographer, and that I liked her look, and I would be interested in photographing her. At that point, I just gave her my card and asked her to email me if she liked the photos on my site and would be interested. Not long after, she emailed me and we did a photo-shoot. Doing something like that still gets my heart racing a bit...just like asking someone out, but you have to think of it from the perspective that you are not just taking up someone's time. You are doing them a favor -- you are using your art and skill to take a good photograph of them. One note though, if you take their contact information and say you will send them a print then do it. If you don't, you are spoiling it for every other photographer out there who might be interested in photographing them.

    Anyway, this is Irina, the girl whom I met on the subway:




  8. #8
    Digital Dude
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    Re: Note to self

    With my luck, I would ask a young woman this question and end up having the special victims unit at my door.
    Regards,

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    Re: Note to self

    The key is to be brief and professional. Don't try to get their number/information etc. Just give them a card, ask them to look at your work and get back to you if they are interested. Otherwise, if you are looking for people to photograph, there is always Model Mayhem.

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    Re: Note to self

    Note to self postscript: get business cards.

    I think you have it right Stuart. It doesn't have to be complicated. Good eye spotting her and ultimately, shooting her.

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    Re: Note to self

    Quote Originally Posted by Digital Dude View Post
    With my luck, I would ask a young woman this question and end up having the special victims unit at my door.
    Regards,
    Count yourself lucky mate - if I asked a young woman I'd have to answer to my dear Emma, and, delightful as she certainly is (and she's a darling about my camera extravagances), she would be much more frightening than the special victims unit!

    Just this guy you know

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    Senior Member helenhill's Avatar
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    Re: Note to self

    THOUGHT YOU ALL MIGHT ENJOY THIS QUICK VIDEO
    ON MAGNUM PHOTOGRAPHER
    BRUCE GILDEN / WNYC STREETSHOTS

    I Looove his Work ..... and the way he approaches Street Photography (I certainly am NOT that brazen but ASPIRING)

    www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKKIWW6vwrvm

    Cheers! Helen
    Last edited by helenhill; 26th May 2008 at 15:30.

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    Re: Note to self

    Helen,
    I surprised he hasn't been punched in the face a few times. Although he is in their face and done so fast, I bet most people don't think he actually got the shot.

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    Subscriber Member jaapv's Avatar
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    Re: Note to self

    Quote Originally Posted by TRSmith View Post
    Everyone has a process for growth and improvement. Occasionally, I imagine that everyone has little epiphanies along the way. Today I experienced a quiet little one while shooting the Memorial Day parade in the nearest "city" in our area large enough to hold such an event.

    What I realized is that I'm not the least bit timid when it comes to poking my lens right up the nose of a Gladiola. But when it comes to people, I'm a bit of a chicken. Shrubs, trees, fields, ponds, etc. are perfectly willing to sit there and wait for me to get myself and my gear right where I want it. But people!

    A day like today is sensory overload. My brain gets all slushy and fails to engage. How do I make sense of all this activity? It's not my gear, that works fine. And I have figured out the basics of how to use it. What seems to be missing is the concentration and the ability to visualize and then proceed with making a shot happen.

    So the epiphany for me (and by anyone else's measure it may seem pretty underwhelming) is that I have to work harder to pursue the shots I want. I have to shoot more so it's second nature to me and "I" am not as much of a factor. By that I mean the "I" that's self-conscious, or too polite, or too cautious about somehow invading another's space.

    I got some ok photos today, but I missed the ones I really wanted because I was too timid. I can still see them, almost in the same way you leave a party and continually run a conversation back in your mind with all the "should have saids" neatly in place.

    In any case, forward, eh?

    Thanks,
    Tim



    I know exactly how you feel. That is why I label myself "Landscape and Wildlife" I'll happily walk up to an Elephant or a Lion (within reason -more or less), but people....
    JAAP
    http://www.jaapvphotography.eu
    The colours of my generation are black and white.

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    Re: Note to self

    Thank you Helen
    I really enjoyed that.

    Just this guy you know

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    Senior Member helenhill's Avatar
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    Re: Note to self

    Quote Originally Posted by TEBnewyork View Post
    Helen,
    I surprised he hasn't been punched in the face a few times. Although he is in their face and done so fast, I bet most people don't think he actually got the shot.
    Terry
    I wonder that as well
    but I'm Inspired to try it
    Do you you think someone would hit a Delicate Petite woman like myself ?
    I'm able to CHARM Police .......

    Best-H
    Last edited by helenhill; 26th May 2008 at 15:57.

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    Re: Note to self

    While I appreciate his work, that is really not what I aspire to. In that case, he really is "assaulting" people. Yes, there is no expectation of privacy on a public street, but at the same time I think there is room for some personal space. Sometimes a great photo taken in a inhumane way is not worth the indignity it metes out on others. It's the same reason I don't photograph the homeless. Personally, I am not interested in photographing people if I feel like they might look at the result and feel embarrassed, belittled, or ashamed. I have no problem with people photographing the homeless to help their plight -- concerned photography certainly has a place, but if you are doing it for your own vanity or ego, I think it is a bit gross. In the same way, just sticking a camera and flash in the face of random people on the street does not seem to me to be something to aspire to. Sure, the guy has guts to do what he does, and he gets some very interesting pictures of interesting people, but it is a classic case of where he is practically shouting at the top of his lungs, "I am better than you, and I can do whatever I want. If you don't like it, go **ck yourself."

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    Re: Note to self

    Hi Stuart
    maybe, like Jaap (and mostly me) it's simpler to stick to wildlife and nature. Nature might just bite you, but it's unlikely to bad-mouth you!
    I'm not sure how I feel about Bruce Gilden's work . . . but I know that my personal code wouldn't allow me to do that.

    Just this guy you know

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    Senior Member helenhill's Avatar
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    Re: Note to self

    Hi Stuart.
    Since we have never met
    you must understand
    most things I say are VERY tongue n cheek
    so please don't take me too seriously
    BUT
    I do think the world has room for Bruce Gilden & his Approach
    capturing People
    in all their humanity
    who would otherwise be Lost to Obscurity

    Best to You - H

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    Re: Note to self

    Helen -- I mean no offense to you at all, so I hope you did not take my post that way. I appreciate the idea of capturing people in all their humanity, but I think you can still do it in a humane way. Cartier-Bresson did just this, but he did not jump directly in front of someone and fire a flash two feet from their face. I understand that it is all over in a second, but I still think there is a fundamental philosophical assault going on, even if there is likely no real damage as a result of the encounter. The question is it ok to dehumanize someone in order to portray their humanity? I would say no. Bruce Gilden would obviously say yes.

  21. #21
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    Re: Note to self

    Well, I certainly like the personal card idea and it’s been on my list of “to do’s” for quite sometime. It does tend to lower the intimidation factor since you are willing to disclose your identity. I really like my dealer’s card. It has his name, phone and email on a plain white card with embossed black lettering. Nothing fancy but not some homemade inkjet crap either. If I recall, the last time I asked for raised/embossed printing, I was told I didn’t need it so I simply walked out.
    Regards,
    Last edited by Digital Dude; 26th May 2008 at 17:01.

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    Re: Note to self

    Tim,
    I never commented on the original shots....The first three are my favorites especially the first!

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    Re: Note to self

    i'm one of those who loves people and loves shooting people. getting the Epson R-D1 with my less than unobtrusive chrome 50 lens and loud shutter click (not to mention the time it takes me to focus ) has given me a whole new experience.

    whilst i've missed several shots i would have gotten on the GRDII (or simply not taken them because there was no way to do so without calling attention to myself), i wouldn't trade the experiences i've had. i have already accumulated about ten business cards and need to email pics of people i've taken. everyone from a clam-shucker to a downtown lawyer at a Playoff game (who got in my way on purpose). i've shown them the image on the screen and they've squealed with delight. my only fear is that the pictures won't live up to their expectations.... (and then there's the dilemma about whether to send the flattering ones or the ones that are good photographically speaking.)

    it's been quite rewarding in a way i honestly would not have expected.

    if you point a camera at somebody deliberately, they will get out of your way if they do not want their picture taken (this occurs even when i'm using my GRDII). make yourself obvious -- that's all you can do. show them your pics and offer to send it to them if they're interested enough to ask. have a card with your email and give it to them if they don't have one handy.

    if you're comfortable with yourself and what you're doing, others will be comfortable with you taking pictures of them. start slowly, ease in to it, and maybe later on you can even "sneak" a couple of shots without feeling like slime.

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    Re: Note to self

    Quote Originally Posted by TRSmith View Post
    Thanks folks for your honesty. It's not just me then.

    I'm beginning to think that there's another way, a middle ground maybe, where making my own enthusiasm for taking pictures along with my own comfort factor with the process, evident enough to put others at ease. Part of the discovery came today when I went just a bit farther into the crowd than I would have normally. Nobody seemed to really notice that much. Or mind. It was at the point when I realized that fact which sponsored the regret. I could easily have gone to the next step but didn't.

    Maybe robertwright has it correct, the end might justify the means. I just have to discern exactly what my means will be.

    As for engaging in a dialog with the means to take names and addresses for sending copies to the interested parties later... well, I have some work to do before I get there.

    Best,
    Tim

    p.s. Nice surf shot Jono.
    I actually did not intend to say the end justifies the means, what I meant was when your own personal upset becomes greater not getting the shot than getting it, that is when you act. And this is what you say above, you realise there is nothing stopping you but you, you have the means and the sensitivity to negotiate what you want and to get what you want, so it comes down to some excuse like not bothering people, which is the inner critic talking usually. I know, I'm canadian and we have that polite thing down...moving to ny fixed that in a hurry.

    The middle ground as you say is that you can get what you need and you can positively affect other people. Being interested in other people is natural, complimentary, and can be compassionate if that is how you are. Good luck!

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    Senior Member Daniel's Avatar
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    Re: Note to self

    Quote Originally Posted by Stuart Richardson View Post
    I am the exact same way Tim. It is a constant struggle for me. I like photographing people, but I still have a great deal of difficulty doing it. Perhaps you are the same way, but I grew up in a family where being considerate was driven into us -- do not bother people, think about the needs/feelings of others and so on. It is great, and it has served me well in life, but it makes it very hard to photograph someone when you think every 2 seconds about how much you might be inconveniencing them or making them uncomfortable. There are many people who excel at portrait photography because these things don't even enter into their minds. It is not that they are inconsiderate (though I suppose some may be), it is just that they don't worry about the person on the other side of the camera -- once they agree to be photographed (or even if they don't), then it is fine to just do what you do. You just have to try to adopt this mentality...at least partially.
    I'm of the same feeling as well. It's always a personal battle within myself when I photograph other people who are strangers - I'd feel timid, fearful, or sneaky.

    I'm figuring out on my own that people in general do not quite mind being photographed so long as I do not sneak around them, do not purposefully catch them in awkward situations that would embarrass or shame them. I believe most people have a sixth-sense - they'll sense your presence and intentions, and respond accordingly. I'm still learning to carry myself confidently with a camera, to think ahead, anticipate their next move, then compose and photograph so quickly such that they do not feel that thing (the camera) is invading into their personal space.
    Last edited by Daniel; 26th May 2008 at 23:01.

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    Re: Note to self

    Personally, I think there is some merit in respecting people's expectation of privacy even when in a public place. So, while I am primarily a people shooter, I don't engage in it as an aggressive pursuit like some self-centered predatory Paparazzi ... Magnum shooter or not, my first instinct would be to bitch slap someone like that to his knees, then claim "I was startled and in fear of my life"

    The notion that there is some "higher purpose" like recording "humanity in all it's glory" isn't the same as a duffer wading into the gene pool and taking a self-gratification pee.

    However, if people make a spectacle of themselves, or are at a place or event where there is some expectation of being photographed, that's a different story.

    I wouldn't consider those shots at a Parade or any similar gathering to be an invasion of privacy. Portrait work isn't the same either ... there's an expected purpose. Same for all my candid wedding work

    There is a line there, and I know I can cross it, but tend not to out of respect for that very humanity that others think is their private hunting ground.

    I've done okay at street stuff, and I truly think it is the domain of the Leica M ... not to be sneeky, but to go unnoticed so as to not disturb the flow of life around me.

    Different strokes for different folks.

  27. #27
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    Re: Note to self

    Quote Originally Posted by fotografz View Post
    ...There is a line there, and I know I can cross it, but tend not to out of respect for that very humanity that others think is their private hunting ground....
    Marc,
    Your comments are presented with the style and elegance of William F. Buckley, Jr. and that’s a compliment. You pretty much nailed the subject and I’m confident that many here may share in your perspective.
    Regards,
    Last edited by Digital Dude; 27th May 2008 at 08:28.

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