It didn’t help that the paparazzi contributed to Princess Diana’s death.
Sort of ironic, isn’t it?
The hordes of paparazzi through their dogged pursuit of their quarry, contributed to her untimely demise and in the end, they lost a source of income.
Robin Stein bows her head during a memorial service for the victims of Tuesday’s terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, Friday., Sept. 14, 2001, at the Redlands Bowl in Redlands, California.
Still, if you’re a people watcher like I am, those changes in attitudes shouldn’t dissuade you from pursuing street or candid photography of people.
But sometimes asking first, ruins the moment, especially if that something they’re doing is spur of the moment.
Shooting your pictures first and asking for forgiveness afterwards is my advice if that’s the case.
This elderly gentleman photographed in Kowloon, Hong Kong didn’t seem to mind at all when I took his picture.
He was sitting in a public park one wintry morning.The directional light, his attire, walking stick and his proud face made him stand out from the crowd. I smiled at him, gestured that I wanted to take his picture and he obliged. Canon F-1.Canon 200 mm f 2.8 lens. Kodak Tri-X B&W film
My years as a newspaper photographer has taught me no 2 situations are alike.
You probably don’t want to read that, I know. But it’s true. Here’s why.
If you ask first and they say no, then you risk tipping them off.
Then they’ll either be hamming it intentionally for you, or they’ll stop and growl at you.
Another wintry day, this time in downtown Medina in Ohio where I interned at the local newspaper when I was in college. I captured these ladies laughing out loud as they waited to cross the street. Canon F-1.Canon 200 mm f 2.8 lens. Kodak Tri-X B&W film
Most times if you remain calm, smile and explain yourself, saying something like , “I took your picture because that looked like such a special moment between your wife/girlfriend and you.”
I would have asked before hand but I didn’t want to interrupt your spontaneous display of affection.
While was traveling in Hong Kong, I happened across this cobbler who repaired shoes, replacing soles and stitching leather products. He was a very cordial gentleman. He never seemed to mind. His cheerful disposition hit home because I learned it’s not how much money you make, but what you do with it to be happy. Canon F-1, 28 mm lens. Tri-X B&W film.
Bear in mind, Romeo may be spoken for and might be smooching with someone he’s not supposed to, that’s why he’s a little hot under the collar when he sees you, so respect that possibility.
If they insist you erase the image, you might offer them a print of the picture. And if they like the idea, why not asked them to sign a model release?
Festivals where attendees dress up are great places for people pictures. Most people are decked up in period costumes and don’t mind being photographed.
Place yourself in their shoes for a moment and see if you wouldn’t want a great picture of you and the love of your life smooching against a wonderful setting.
3. Take no for an answer unless you’re a paparazzi-in-training.
Never be so insistent on photographing someone to the point they consider you a stalker.
Even if the law says no one should expect privacy in a public places, that doesn’t give you any special right to literally point a camera in a person’s face.
4. Be sure to smile and appear friendly.
When you’re walking around with your camera and that long lens, acting aloof, distant and avoiding eye contact or sneaking around is bad body language.
It suggests you’re hiding what you’re doing, so that is a no-no.
You are engaging in a fun activity which is not illegal. Do I need to elaborate about your attire as well?
So if your wardrobe is just a trenchcoats, sunglasses and large hats because you’re sensitive to the sun, you might consider a different kind of photography.
With those caveats out of the way, here’s some suggestions on equipment and technique.
The lens even with the lens hood doesn’t look that imposing. Longer focal lengths like a 300 mm or longer are of course better, but you will surely stick out like a sore thumb.
Another lens of necessity is a wide angleÂ something like a 15 mm or 16 mm if your camera has a magnification factor and doesn’t have a full-size sensor.
When you’re in a crowd and you can’t possibly move back, this will allow you to capture scenes easier.
Digital SLRs work better than point and shoot cameras. But if a point and shoot is all you have, shoot at your longest focal length and at a quality to give you the largest file size.
Don’t use the digital zoom. You want to use your maximum optical zoom and also your quality or lowest compression giving you the largest file size.
Set your exposure for the lighting conditions beforehand.
This is all part of being ready. When shooting in the streets, you have little or no time to be fiddling with aperture and shutter speeds.
Most people think you don’t need to do this with today’s cameras because of all the automatic modes and autofocusing.
I recommend you set the exposure manually then all your camera needs to do is focus when press the shutter speeding up the process.
If you leave it to the camera on automatic, the camera has one more operation, deciding what combination of shutter speed and aperture to set while trying to focus on your subject.
Since you already know you want to emphasize your person and what they’re doing, you’re obviously going to shoot with your widest aperture to blur out the distractions in the background and foreground.
Seasoned Apples Smell Nutty to Blushing Bachelors. That stands for Set Aperture to Small Number to Blur Background.
Remember not be too pushy persisting to photograph someone who doesn’t want to.
The law says no one should expect privacy in a public places.
But when a worried mother flags down a cop because you’re taking pictures of her and her child in the public park, it is more than likely you’ll be asked to stop or leave.
The First Amendment protects free speech, which means that no law enforcement official can prevent the photography or filming on the street or anywhere else that is considered public property.
In practice we all know some cops can get overzealous and heavy-handed just because they are the ones with the guns and handcuffs.
This video shows exactly what I mean. Denver police and Boulder County deputies manhandle a credentialled journalist who was working on the sidewalk during the Democratic National Convention recently.
And just in case you think this is becoming a phenomenon on this side of the Atlantic, watch this video produced by Rajesh Thind.