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...


bonnie said...

I thought that as long as you aren't doing it professionally (making money off those people's images) you were within your rights.

However, you could just take a leaf out of the Hollywood book & post signs saying "By your presence here, you agree to be photographed by Tim, if you do not want to be photographed by Tim you can always leave"

think I'm kidding? Third picture down. This is how they do movies in public places without having to get ten zillion commuters to sign model releases.

Kinda cracked me up.

Tim said...

Yeah, I had it right...I was just taken aback at this guy's reaction. you would have to know the locale to get a sense of this, but rest assured it is a very public place with lots of things going on daily.

Loved your blog entry you linked to! Maybe I can get that tattooed on my forehead (or at least get a ball cap with this printed on the front)...

bonnie said...

Amateur Photographer's Model Release Cap

"To whom it may concern: The wearer of this cap is an amateur photographer. By being in front of said cap-wearer, you consent to have your picture taken by him. If you do not want him to take your picture, please stop being in front of him."


BTW, yes, I am a paddler - actually found your blog through Paddling Planet. Lots of family in Michigan although not so much Northern. The water in the background of my picture? That's not the Hudson, it's the Manistee River!

Tim said...

Why thank you! Fortunately when I do wear ball caps I never wear them backward - or I would need a realllly wide lens!

Manistee river, very nice, you must have been enjoying yourself (nice lighting in the shot). Another place I've had on my paddling list for some time. And Paddling planet? Great resource!

IowaAdmin said...

I have talked to other (amateur) photographers who say they don't have the nerve to shoot strangers in public. As a former newspaper reporter and photographer, I have no shyness about pointing my camera at people in public places. I don't do it as much any more, but I still don't have a problem if I see a good shot.