Let me begin by wishing you all a very happy “World Photography Day”.
On the occasion of photography day, a quick message before I jump into topic. Over a period of time its very very important to know what genre of photography you really want to perceive. 3 years of non stop photography helped me find mine – ‘street photography and long exposure photography’. You just cant let yourself loose by saying “I shoot everything”. Its good to shoot everything but its even more important to know a genre or two that you want to follow which without a doubt would help you in clicking better. You can only zero on to your genre by consistent regular shooting with no excuses. So wishing all of you a very eventful year of photography ahead, hope you find your genre and not be a shoot-everything-photographer for ever.
In this blog, I want to discuss one of the most common sequence of events in street photography. Street photography can be either candid, where photographer shoots people without their permission. On the other hand, when I see a person who deserves a portrait, I approach him/her and ask his/her permission for the shot, because eye contact with the camera really adds a different depth to the image. When I started street photography, there was this fear to approach people and most often I shot candid. But now years have passed and I have learnt the skill to approach any stranger and ask permission for a portrait. Sometimes its rejected and most often I manage to convince them for a shot. On a recent outing I decided to document the process when I approached a vendor at Dubai fish market. Here’s how it went…
Step 1 : Objection from the subject :
When you approach a stranger for a photograph, they object – SIMPLE. Even I would do the same if some photographer randomly walks to me pointing his camera. So its understood. There are various reasons for objection, may be he’s just shy or may be anxious to know why he’s being photographed amongst so many around and in this case the query was “Are you from newspaper” So this objection has to be tackled first before moving to the next step. Usually it just takes a smile and a good loud wish of “Salaam Walekum” to initiate the conversation.
A clear objection from this person.
Step 2 : Convincing the subject :
This is indeed the hardest step. Sometimes I don’t get a chance to get into this step at all because the objection was too strong to ignore .That’s the beauty of street, all kinds of people, all kinds of temper, you just got to deal with it So when it comes to convincing, I have hell lot of excuses
“I am shooting for a personal project, so this is very important”
“You look great and deserve a portrait”
“You look like a bollywood star”
“I am just a tourist”
“I can make you famous”
“I love your… turban (Mustache, Beard, Hairstyle, costume, blah blah blah)
So make an excuse with a bit of humor, usually it works – works really really well. In this case, I told this guy “You are so photogenic, you should have been really a smart chap when you were young with girls following you all around” and he burst into a loud laughter. So it was time to move to the next step.
Step 3 : Framing the subject :
So once Step 2 works, its easy. Within those little light conversation, there is already a trust built between a photographer and the subject – “Two Perfect Strangers”. They would pose the way you want, they would let you shoot as many times as you want, till you get the right shot, all depending on how well you did in step 2. It just took one shot to get the frame I wanted, Bingo
Fear to approach a subject is always part of street photography (One of the reasons why many people stay away from street photography or mainly concentrate on candid shots on streets), but once you do it over and over again, it just keeps getting easier. I have been compiling a video on how it all works on streets as I shoot by mounting a compact cam on my DSLR. Its still in edit process and once done would reveal it here on the blog, so keep a close eye on this space