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Camera shy

I was just curious if anyone else is ever hesitant to take their camera out in certain situations. Sometimes, even if I know there is a great photo to be made, for the privacy of the subject or the subject matter I choose to keep my camera tucked away. Is this something that I need to get over completely or does anyone feel that there are certain things which should not be photographed? Of course I understand and agree that it is our job to get the word out on things, but sometimes for me there is a dilemma.

Has anyone else experienced this? What’s my problem?

by chris cella at 2012-04-07 19:07:22 UTC | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Well, I’d say that your instincts are good, even if you need to work on it. To shoot documentary or to really capture the moment, it is best to be strictly an observer, and being seen as a recorder can alter the genuine emotion and reaction of people. I find that it is necessary to develop some rapport with the people you are shooting, and do that, they need to feel that you are there to tell their story, and that you respect, or at least understand what they are doing. I try to hang with people long enough that they are not afraid I’m trying to do anything that will get them in trouble or embarrass them. For documentary reportage, you need to develop trust with those you shoot, for something that is more like spot news, playing the journalist sometimes works better. It’s always better to get to know people, always ask if you can shoot at first, and after a while, they likely will tolerate you shooting without asking, or they will let you know that there are things that they don’t want you to shoot. If it’s reportage, and you are spending some time with people, try to develop that trust over some time. In other cases, where something is harder news, it may be best to really put on the photographer hat; make it clear that “this is my job, but I am here to tell your story”. It’s hard to say, a lot depends on the situation, those being photographed, and your own personality.

by John Louis Lassen Perry | 08 Apr 2012 02:04 | Liberty Corner, New Jersey, United States | | Report spam→
Don’t feel bad about being shy, though, because a pompous or rude photographer will get a few pictures, but people will be hoping to get rid of him quickly, but somebody who shows respect will often get rewarded with the opportunity to see more intimate things and see those unguarded moments when people stop posing and posturing and are just being themselves.

by John Louis Lassen Perry | 08 Apr 2012 02:04 | Liberty Corner, New Jersey, United States | | Report spam→
LIKE Button… jr

by John Robinson | 08 Apr 2012 11:04 | Durban, South Africa | | Report spam→
There is nothing wrong with shooting anything. The dilemma arises afterwards— what to do with the photo? That is the point at which you need to ask the questions about privacy. We all work in different ways but it is probably best to get the picture, one way or another, and ask the questions later.

by Barry Milyovsky | 08 Apr 2012 13:04 | Manhattan, United States | | Report spam→
That’s another strategy. Mostly, I prefer to tell people that I am a photographer up front, so that if they have a question about what I will do with the photos, they can ask me. In other circumstances, I will just start shooting, and if anybody wants me to stop, I handle that when it comes up. Respect is key, though, in most situations. If you see a great shot, and you think it’s going to tell the story best, try to take it, but always be respectful to those you are shooting, to venues (like bars or places where music is being played) and especially, to cops or anyone who is likely to be armed or become violently upset (and one does run across such people at times). Be thoughtful, use your judgment, just remember that if you really offend the wrong people, you won’t be shooting any more photos, and you will have made the work of the next photographer more difficult.

by John Louis Lassen Perry | 08 Apr 2012 17:04 | Liberty Corner, New Jersey, United States | | Report spam→
Thank you all for your responses. I think this is a discussion of philosophy in photography, and it would be interesting to hear many opinions. I appreciate the help thus far. My demeanor is usually introverted and I feel like I’ve missed a lot of shots and opportunities because of it. It’s something I’m trying to overcome but the biggest obstacle is my own moral indecisiveness. But maybe it’s like you say John, the shots I can eventually get are more genuine and personal.

by chris cella | 09 Apr 2012 02:04 | North Hollywood, United States | | Report spam→
First of all you have to give yourself permission to invade and take someone’s picture——generally non-photographers have a very high mark where that is concerned because their particular culture and society dictates what you can and cannot do. So you have to lower that mark for the sake of what you are trying to achieve.

Second, you have to find a code of ethics as a guide so that you do not overstep; personally, I belong to the NPPA and I use their code of ethics which are excellent.

Third, a few non specific general unwritten rules like, don’t become the news—jump the podium for the close up on the speaker, fight with cops, or bust into the dressing room of the opera singer a shot of her getting ready. In general don’t shoot anything where you have to run away if someone comes after you for taking photos—-unless they have a gun, machete, 2×4 or they are a lot bigger than you and are bent on violence.

Fourth, take the photos for a reason—-reportage, a single expression of a unique moment, newsworthy and impact full or for as an assignment for an editor. It looks like you are in the US, so remember the Constitution—-you can take photos in public of ANYTHING—-if you don’t think its okay, your subjects won’t either so you have to telegraph your confidence, intent and mission and this can only come from you.

I remember I had an assignment to shoot an outdoor biker festival—-there were about 5,ooo people there and they were having a great time and people were cool. So the lady’s tattoo competition starts on this little stage and its not long before its out of hand—-all the gals want to win and they have crazy tattoos in crazy places. It felt creepy shooting from the audience so I got back stage to try and get something more generic but it was worse back there as contestants were making an effort to bribe the judges—-so my shots were very tame because I could not get over it.

A short time after I filed I got a call from the photo desk—-

Editor: Where are the tattoo photos?
Me: Uhhh, yeah, it was out of hand.
Editor: But, you got the shots You have the shots right? You just didn’t send them in, right?
Me: Uhhh, No, it was pervy man, I did not want to embarrass the paper.
Editor: -(silence with an off line echo) He didn’t get the tattoo shots.
Me: Yeah, it was crazy…
Editor: We decide what shots we will use, you shoot what takes place at the event. You record the event as it happens. You will never embarrass the paper more than we have already done already. Next time, get the shots.

Never had trouble after that. Try and get a place for your shots to go and then tell the story.

Suerte, bro

PS: Allow curiosity to trump the shy.

by David Bro | 09 Apr 2012 15:04 (ed. Apr 9 2012) | orange county, california, United States | | Report spam→
To put it crudely, you need to think of yourself as a firing platform for your camera. If you see something interesting, turn, point, take the shot. See something else interesting, turn, point, take the shot.

If you feeling uncomfortable taking the shot, take it anyways and just don’t publish it. You have the power to release a picture to your editor/public.

I sort of had that problem before, but I fixed it by going to “car shows”. I say that loosely because the only thing I was interested in were the models.

At first I was also a bit intimidated… photographed from 10 feet away… waited until they looked at me, etc etc. But after a couple shows, I was walking right up to them and snapping away. Too crowded on one side?? No problem, go off to another side and start snapping away.

You can start off by going to a car show w/o your camera. Notice how the photographers act around the models. The timid photogs are held at bay by what I term as the “hottie shield” They start stuttering, fumbling with camera settings, body language goes to crap, etc. Look at the pros… they walk right up and snap away.

You’re in Southern California, car shows and other similar events are everywhere.

by Humphrey Cheung | 09 Apr 2012 16:04 | Los Angeles, United States | | Report spam→
A bit nervous about getting getting your kit out around people? Never happened to me.
I just drop the flies and let it all hang out. This technique is known as ‘shooting from the hip.’
It becomes instinctive after a while.
Tip: Use plenty of anti-freeze in cold weather.

by Mikethehack | 10 Apr 2012 11:04 | Way up my own ass, United Kingdom | | Report spam→

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chris cella, chris cella
North Hollywood , United States ( LAX )
John Louis Lassen Perry, Photoanthropologist John Louis Lassen Perry
Califon, New Jersey , United States
John Robinson, Photographer John Robinson
(works with light)
Pigeon Club , South Africa
Barry Milyovsky, totally unprofessional Barry Milyovsky
totally unprofessional
(emperor of ice cream )
New York , United States
David Bro, freelance editorial David Bro
freelance editorial
Orange County , United States ( LAX )
Humphrey Cheung, Freelance videographer Humphrey Cheung
Freelance videographer
(Body armor does a body good)
Los Angeles , United States
Mikethehack, Freelance thril performer Mikethehack
Freelance thril performer
Way Up My Own Ass , United Kingdom


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