What do you photograph?

Muka Head beach on the island of Penang where I was born is today a nature reserve and thank goodness. I wonder if the waters are still as clean today.
My son playing basketball at the YMCA. When this was taken, he was 7. Time flies.ISO 1600 1/125 sec @f2.8

I don’t recall exactly when I made this conscious decision to include people.

Most of my pictures have people in them.

Not unlike many of you, I was first drawn to scenics and landscapes.

It’s quite natural.

Hell, until I could control the camera, i.e confidently shoot on Manual mode for the exposure, I had my hands full.

I managed 5 frames of the trishaw peddler before it disappeared from my frame. The Chinese shop houses in Penang where I grew up are a favorite for visitors. Most of the pictures I see of these trishaws are static, seldom in motion.

Forget trying to capture a moving object like a child or a ball in motion.

Later, much later, after I could capture what my eyes saw with my cameras with certainty, I found the camera to be a great excuse to go out and meet strangers.

How do you use your camera other than spy on your neighbors? 🙂

What inspires you to pick up that camera?

More than likely, you go around with your smartphone and just snap away at everything you see or you’re waiting somewhere and killing time, so you use that built-in camera on your phone.

No judgement on your methodology, but do share why you take pictures under comments.

Peter Phun Photography

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6 thoughts on “What do you photograph?”

  1. Hi Dominique,
    Thanks so much for taking the time to share.

    I’ve always loved taking pictures of people and I still do.

    People are fascinating subjects because unlike a mannequin, people need reassurance, praise and often good rapport with the person behind the camera.

    When shooting strangers out in public, I never try to sneak a picture. I don’t always ask for permission first either, it all depends on what they are doing.

    No two situations are ever the same, you have to sort of feel the people out. When they discover your presence, it’s best to come clean and explain why you are taking their picture. Show them why you took it. They may even like it so much and tell you to continue.

    Here are some tips on shooting in public places.

    I think it’s wonderful that your dad was a photographer.

    I went to school for journalism to be a news photographer. So I am a journalist first because I feels a picture needs to used as a means of telling some sort of story. The more obvious, the better.

    The subtle picture which is open to interpretation is more the artsy style of photography.

    Both have their merits.

    I don’t think you need to go to photography school, Dominique especially in the age of “youtube university”. A formal school only gets you to a level of skill faster. After you arrive at that point, you really don’t need that degree.

    I got quite a few teachers who responded supporting my view when I wrote about a the value of a photography degree.

    Dominique, please share a hyperlink to your online images so that I may see your corner of the world. Thanks.

  2. I photograph everything that catches my eyes, i love reflections in water or windows, i have a crush for shooting the moon, i love details, cracks on walls, rust, door handles and “things” ; i like to photograph people too, but there i have a dilemma : i should ask for permission, i know, but if i do, they loose their spontaneity , and the little “je ne sais quoi” that makes me want to catch them …sigh

    Fortunately i live in a tiny village in the south of France, where everybody knows the “Dame à la photo” (that’s how they call me); i never had problems with the persons i shoot; if i feel they are uncomfortable with the camera, i just don’t do it… or make sure they are not on the photos i post on my facebook page or on flickr.

    Often they ask me if i sell the pics, when i say no, i do it for my pleasure and to share what is happening in the village with my friends, they smile, i believe it would be different if i was making money with their image… it is the ambiance, the expressions, i am looking for and i find my happiness when i shoot gigs, i love music, musicians, performers, and they are kind enough to let me play with them and take hundred of clichés during their performance (i know i am lucky … specially being aware that my first attempts where … well… crap 😉 but they where kind and tolerant enough to encourage me and i feel so grateful to be able to experiment stage photography without complex)

    Even if i have been conceived in my dad’s photography studio and grew-up in is darkroom, i don’t “kwow” what i am doing … so i try anyway … i wish my father was still alive to teach me the basics (he refused to teach me anything, he just gave me cameras and films, told me not to cut heads and feets, to “place the needle in the midle and to have the “target circle” neat, that all the rest wasn’t important, that my eyes where what matters” … i have a few books but i don’t find them helpful, they leave me confused and not satisfied.

    I wish i could rewind my life and go to photography school, but i can’t so i do what i can with what i have, before it’s too late…

  3. Hi Marta,
    I wish more folks had your attitude when it comes to learning. In fact, I wish I did!

    I’m at the point in my life when I have to face up to some very real physical limitations.

    The trouble with being a former news photographer is this: to be in that business required a competitive streak. Even today when I see a great photo, especially a sports photo, I think I can do one better. Physically, you and I know a 50+ can’t be running around indefinitely with a long lens day in and day out.

    I accept that I can’t be everywhere shooting landscapes, portraits of great looking people or in the thicke of major events. I have to have a life, too.

    Thanks for taking the time to share.

  4. I have always loved photographing children. My first ‘model’ was a baby I used to babysit for. She is in her 40’s now! I find I’m still drawn to people but especially the innocence of little ones. I like capturing moments rather than stiff poses. But I’m enjoying the learning process that comes with photographing people and enjoying learning how to pose and light people….all poses do not have to be dull or static. I love faces and sadly the only way I can really see a face these days is through a camera lens. I think that’s why I love it so much. The camera in many ways has become my 2nd eye. But I love new challenges and so setting goals for capturing more landscapes or significant events keeps me from growing bored. Sometimes I forget my limitations and just plow through. Like the other day trying to photograph the space shuttle. I almost didn’t catch it because I’m unable to track a moving object . I get frustrated at myself because I ‘forget’ my limitations! But if dwelled on them (limitations) I probably wouldn’t walk out my front door.

  5. Hi Melody,
    Thanks for taking the time to share.

    When I used to work at the newspaper, I used the camera daily. That became so much of my life, now when I go a few days without picking up the camera, it feels strange.

    Ever since I started teaching, I’ve discovered that has helped me become a better photographer.

    Previously I would just stumble around and find a solution on-the-fly.

    Now I actually put a lot more thought into my techniques because I want to be sure the explanations behind them are sound .

    That way when I explain it, I don’t get the ‘rolling eyes’ look. I should be taking more pictures of my family. Thanks for reminding me.

  6. I started taking pictures just of my kids on automatic mode. I wanted to remember everything they did. My dad always took pictures of every family thing we ever did and since I can’t remember most of my childhood I love the pictures because it gives me memories I wouldn’t have otherwise. About a year ago my friend asked me to take pictures for her dance class. I hestitantly agreed letting her know I knew nothing about my camera except auto mode. I took the pictures and they were ok. I took pictures a couple more times for her but began to hate them because they didn’t turn out like I wanted them to. At that point I decided I needed to learn what I was doing. I started taking classes and fell in love with photography. I think I still take mainly to keep memories alive but also because I love the feeling I get when I know I’ve been able to create a picture that I envisioned. I’m still learning and love to gain knowledge.

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