'Street Shooting Philosophy'

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Here's an interesting quote on street shooting from a photographer in my city...Me personally, I tend to agree with his view here...(though I know it will generate some controversy)

@aphrocentricityE. Smith
#streettog tip: If you're going to shoot the homeless, get CLOSE. Interact with them, get their story. Listen. Otherwise, its exploitation.
 
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What if the person is mentally unstable and pulls a knife on you? I think true candid photography means your subject never knows that he/she is being photographed. And it's not exploitation unless your photographic intent is to use the photos in an unjust or cruel manner. :wink:
 
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I don't condone talking to random homeless people, unless you know they're relatively harmless. But the idea here is sound. Street shooting is more meaningful, and consequently, your pictures, if you know people's stories.
 
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But by interacting with your subjects, you also alter the subjects you are photographing. They may not act or respond the way they normally do because of the camera.
 
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Here's an interesting quote on street shooting from a photographer in my city...Me personally, I tend to agree with his view here...(though I know it will generate some controversy)

It's great in theory, but I wouldn't recommend it for most.
 
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Panther, every situation is different. And every photographer has their own take on the art and craft of street photography. No one way will work for every situation.
There are no rules for street shooting. Well, except survival :smile:.
Over the years, I have gone at it many different ways. Ebb and flow. Nikon to Leica, Rollei to Widelux.
Everything from 8 to 800 mm with the 2X, digital and film to cellphone, 110 to 4x5.
I’ve done living on the street and photographing street people.
There is no one right answer that fits everyone, every time and every situation.









From using long glass from concealed positions to shooting from the hip to photographing from moving cars …









While I respect this photographer’s opinion and the fact that his take on street photography is valid for him, the truth is that going on what other people say or think about a subjective experience like street photography is kind of silly. And him acting like god and laying down the law doesn’t impress me. Everyone has their own take on it, and that’s what makes it so exciting and unique.

And just for the record, it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference what lens you use.









Personally, I am far more interested in what "you" believe. And seeing some of your examples.
Don't be surprised if your opinion changes over the years. Sometimes you return to where you began.

Getting out and street shooting is almost never easy … but sometimes it is.
You step outside your door and you never know what you’re going to find, or what you’re going to see.

Be safe out there. Trust your instincts and try and do the best you can.


Gregory
 
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Yes, in some cases it is not advisable to get physically close to some homeless persons primarily because they are suffering from untreated mental disorders which makes them dangerous. However, if you are careful and pick your spots, I agree that spending time to learn about them and their circumstances is very enlightening and often will get you better photos. Is it exploitation to take their pictures? I've been photographing homeless people for a number of years and I still can't answer that question.

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I have some reservations about shooting the homeless. Except for a few places, it's legal to take pictures of people in public places without their consent. The homeless are forced out into the public, so it is their home. Photographing them underscores their lack of privacy. Candid does not mean that the subject does not know they are being photographed. It means that the shot is not posed. Shooting telephoto from a blind troubles me as now one of the two elements of voyeurism has been met.

Finally, I see a double standard when shooting the homeless, police, Buddhist monks and so on, without their consent is OK, but taking street shots of pretty girls, who know they are on camera, is regarded as creepy or perverted by some.
 
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I used to take pictures through the window of my bus as I passed. I was more interested in what was happening than making portraits. I could not have taken the photos if I was not protected by a blind (not that the photos were important). If someone is out in public and expects to be seen, he or she can be photographed. The camera is an extension of the eye.
 
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Ron, if you’re not comfortable, then don't do it. Plain and simple.
As far as voyeurism, hmmm. I went to look at your photos and I notice you’ve got shots of girls from behind on the beach with their legs spread in bikinis. And see, that's a shot I wouldn’t take. To me that's creepy.

But that’s just me.

So as I like to say, to each their own.

The one thing I want to say is that photographing the homeless is really important as it promotes awareness of their existence and for the most part, they are invisible in our society even though they are right in the open.

I’ve seen people literally walk over them like they were garbage.
Over the years, I have noticed that very few people talk to them.
And when I do take the time or choose to engage in a dialogue with people on the street, they’ve got stories just like the rest of us.

And I fail to see how "not" including them as part of street photography does anyone any favours.

And personally I refuse to stop taking pictures of people because some other photographer want to inject their own values on me.

As far as shooting from covered positions, over the years I have found it's sometimes better to be discreet and stay back and not engage them for any number of reasons. Which is no different than how I am with any other person I photograph on the street.

The other things is when you use long glass hand held leaning against a tree or supporting your lens on an object or pillar (whatever there is), it’s a viable way to stabilize your lens. But unless you have shot with a 16-pound lens and 5-pound camera for any length of time hand held, it's hard to understand the need for support.
Besides, is there a law where I have to wear a red safety vest with a huge sign that says "PHOTOGRAPHER?"

Give me a break.

Or do I have wave my arms while holding my camera so that the person I am photographing sees me? Tough to do when holding a Nikkor 300 2.0 IF ED AIS and a D3/F3/T and motordrive.

What's next, letting them tell me to delete photos on the street, or what pictures I can take, or show them once they’re in the camera?

Where does it end?

And what focal length is acceptable for me to be close?

This one was taken very close.



And just for the record, I don't know if this man was homeless. I never asked him. Can you tell by the photo?

























Gregory
 
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Ron if not comfortable than don't do it. Plain and simple.
As far as voyerism, Hmmm, I went to your see you photo's and , I notice you got shots of girls from behind on the beach with there legs spread in bikini. And see, that's a shot I wouldnt take. To me that's creepy.
But thats just me.
So like I say, to each there own.
The one thing I want to say is that photographing the homeless is really important as promotes awareness of there exsistance and for the most part they are invisible in are society even though they are right in the open.
Iv seen people literally walk over them like they where garbage.
Over the years I have noticed that very few people talk to them.
And when I do take the time or choose to engage in a dialog with people on the street, they got story just like the rest of us.
And I fail to see how "not" including them as part of street photography does anyone any favors.
And personlly I refuse to stop talking pictures of people because some other photographer want to inject there own value's on me.
As far as shooting from covered postions. Over the years I have found it's somtimes better to be discreet and stay back and not engage them for any number of reasons. Which no differnt than how I am with anyother person I photograph on the street.
The other things is when you use long glass hand held leaning against a tree or supporting your lens on object pillar(whatever there is) is a viable way to stabilize your lens. But unless you have shot with a 16 pound lens and 5 pound camera for any length of time hand held it's hard to understand the need for support.
Besides is there a law where I have to wear red safety vest with a huge sign that says "PHOTOGRAPHER".
Give me a break.
Or do I have wave my arms while holding my camera so that the person I am photographing see's me. Tough to do when holing a Nikkor 300 2.0 IF ED AIS and a D3/F3T and motordrive.
What's next, letting them tell me to delete photo's on the street, or what pictures I can take, or show after there in the camera?
Where does it end?
And at what focal lenght is acceptable for me to be close .
Gregory

Gregory,
Wonderful work.
And I agree with your comments.

All shot with manual focus film cameras and lenses from 24 to 200 mm.

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Ron if not comfortable than don't do it. Plain and simple.
As far as voyerism, Hmmm, I went to your see you photo's and , I notice you got shots of girls from behind on the beach with there legs spread in bikini. And see, that's a shot I wouldnt take.
Gregory

So Gregory, is the best defense a good offense? Will calling me creepy make your shots of the homeless OK?

The shots you mention are three or four out of five hundred. It's a misrepresentation to present the exception as if it were the rule. In the few pictures I have taken from behind a person the subject had already looked at me and knew I was shooting. The vast majority of my shots are either posed or interactive. Besides, I don't go around calling anyone creepy.

The biggest problem I have is most laymen do not understand the definition of voyeurism. Even taking a picture of a naked person at a nude beach is not voyeurism. The Wikipedia has an in depth discussion, but the bottom line is there has to be an invasion of privacy. In a world where some people think it is wrong to photograph a woman without her consent, I will always have critics.

I don't think any of the images in this thread are voyeuristic and I am certain not a single one of those on my blog is voyeuristic.

Robert, the first time I published some of my girls walking down the street shots at another forum your reaction was that I either should have done head shots with a long lens or more typical wide angle street scenes. How either of those alternatives would pass muster with you while my alternative is wrong defies logic. What was different about that shot you took of a woman in a red outfit that made it OK? Was it that she was not attractive?

Getting back to the homeless, one must take extreme care to avoid making the subjects feel even more helpless than they are. Remember, there is no private place for them to go and not be photographed. I agree with the original statement, you need to talk with them. If your excuse is you are afraid one may have mental problems, then you should not be out there in the first place. Shooting a telephoto from a blind is exploitation. That's for lions and tigers, not humans. Carry a bunch of $1 bills and prepared to give some away. Don't fall into the trap of homeless porn.
 
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No doubt a very difficult question that can further complicated if for example, a photographer profits off a homeless shoot & the subjects do not.....

You could also say that I profit from all the people I shoot everyday, from all the politicians to the victims in Haiti or Libya. I don't believe in that one bit, nor do I believe paying in paying anyone for a photo as well.
 
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