Friday, July 25, 2008

Candid about Candid Photography

As I continue to feed my photography addiction and my creative jones, I’ve been branching out into shooting candid shots (with varying degrees of success). Now, I’ve always enjoyed shooting people and other animals in action and sports photos - running, jumping, racing, boating, etc. Capturing those brave souls in the Nub’s Nob super pipe or on the recently outlawed tabletop jumps has been a favorite pastime of mine for a few ski seasons now.

But I’m talking more about shooting people who are not necessarily involved in sports or a specific action, but more in the motions of everyday life. Enjoying a book, a stroll or a meal, contemplating one another, or on autopilot as we all are from time to time. Capturing the dynamic of the person lost in thought or the group lost in laughter. For me it’s a new challenge; in addition to developing creative compositions is the added sensitivity of respecting privacy. So I shoot in public venues only and even then, in situations where either a crowd is present and the privacy scale is nil, or in situations where I know I’m being inconspicuous. In other words I try to be considerate.

Last week, while shooting a favorite hot dog vendor from what I thought was a considerate distance, I received a rude inquiry as to what I was doing, and told it was illegal. I was taken aback. I told him calmly that he was in a public space and as such, there was nothing illegal about what I was doing; I wasn’t planning on selling the photo. But it did make me think. So I did some reading and some mulling of candid photography.

In the end I have to say my mind wasn’t changed – much. “Asking permission first” kind of defeats the purpose of candid photography. If people are noticeably uncomfortable I’ll try to pick up on that more. I’ll try to be even less conspicuous. And as before, if someone objects to me photographing them or using their photo, of course, I won’t do so.

I still wonder how some of you photographers out there feel...