This is the first of my ‘retrospective series’. Initially I’d thought to select my favourite images. Then I thought I’d revisit those that reflected how my images have changed over time, particularly since my early surreal images. Instead, I’ve included more recent images – those that map my progress on my self-directed project of photographing people.
May 23rd, 2014
Having come to the decision that I want to concentrate on creating images of the people I see while travelling, I had to work out how. I knew I didn’t want to limit myself to stealthily caught images at a distance – the images I have tried to capture that way have never been satisfactory. So I did what I often do when I need to know something …. I fired up yet another tab on Firefox and did a Google search for “How to photograph strangers”.
Here are a couple of useful articles:
and I really like this one:
I only needed to read half a dozen articles for me to find a strategy that might work for me and so on Sunday I started putting it into effect when we took the train from Reading to Wargrave for a wander around the village.
My first ‘victim’ was a wedding photographer. Ok – so I wasn’t very brave with my first! He was hanging around in the street with two huge Canons and lenses hanging over his shoulders, obviously waiting for the wedding party to appear. So I explained that we used to have Canons but had traded them in on our little dinky toys – Olympus OM-D E-M5s – and asked him if I could take a photo of him with all his gear. He was happy to oblige and we talked for a wee bit until the groom and his lads came rolling out of the pub on the street corner. The image I captured was pretty useless as an image, but it was a confidence booster to have managed the approach.
My next subjects were in the Old Post Office Café. We were the only customers at the counter, so once we’d ordered our coffees and cakes I asked the two young women if I could take a few photos of them. They gushed about being inundated by similar requests all day, which they then confirmed was not entirely accurate, and were very happy to oblige. I was nervous, and didn’t do a brilliant job of it, but I do like this image. I captured a couple of images while she was working on the coffee, checked the exposure seemed to be ok, then asked her to look up at me. I think she’s lovely.
I was using my 45mm lens (effectively a 90mm in full-frame terms). Next time I’ll use my 75mm. I want to get in closer without having to cram my lens into faces. My next challenge will be to approach people in the street. I’m quite excited, and nervous.
I feel like such a beginner. Those of you who are street portrait photographers may well be yawning or wondering what all the fuss is about, but this is a challenge for me. I know I’m starting off easy – it’s going to be more of a challenge to strike up a conversation with the more interesting faces – as per the article, above, the ones I wouldn’t normally approach in my day-to-day life – and a different challenge when we leave the UK, where I can understand most of the English, if not all, and we head to non-English speaking countries.