Photographing Strangers

 

New OrleansWhen I chose to try my hand at street photography, I knew there would be risks — it  involved shooting candid photos of strangers. Would I approve of someone putting a camera in my face and snapping a photo without permission? I wasn’t sure, it depended on how the photographer approached me and acted. Would the people I photograph feel the same way?  I had to reconcile these two issues and that would take time.

At first I used a 200mm lens so I could stand away from the subject and not be seen. Or, if I had to run, at least I’d have a head start. This actually worked, and I posted several photographs on the blog of these early shoots . But in the long run I knew I’d have to get closer.

As time passed, however, I  discovered that  I had to commit to becoming a street photographer. If that is what I wanted to do I had to  learn to photograph people head on — no more shots of people sitting on a beach looking away. No more backs!

I decided on a “tough love” approach. For several weeks I shot nothing but candid photos, straight on, in-your-face shots. I did not concern myself with composition. This would come later. I can honestly say that after the initial photos I felt empowered and on my way to conquering the fear that had held me back.  As somebody said, “There is an exciting life outside your comfort zone.”  Below are a few of the first photos.

bikers headshotpracticeweb resting4x6_pp

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(The following photographs are split into sections:  Street Portraits where the subject has agreed to being photographed and Caught Moments in which people are unaware of being photographed.)

Street Portraits …

Sam

Galveston, Tx. This is Sam. He is retired and loves feeding seagulls along the Galveston seawall. He feeds them out-of-date bread that he buys from a local bakery.  He told me the gulls are his family and he can actually distinguish one from another.

Buchanan was getting in his daily walk around downtown Baytown, Texas.

Baytown, Tx. Buchanan was getting in his daily walk around town. Plans to open a soul food restaurant soon.


new road, la

New Roads, La. I had stopped at the outskirts of New Road to photograph the town’s welcome sign. As I looked for an angle to take my photo this man drove up and introduced himself; he was a volunteer for the town and was responsible for keeping the grass and weeds around the welcome sign trimmed. He apologized that they were not trimmed and offered to ‘tidy them up’ if I would wait while he retrieved a weed-eater from his garage. If I was taking a picture of the sign, he said, he wanted it to look just right. I told him I had to be on my way, but asked if I could take his photograph instead. He said, “sure.”


jamaican man, jamaica, white linen nights

Houston, Tx. I met Ronnie at White Linen Nights at the Heights. He encouraged me to visit his home town of Kingston, Jamaica, saying I would love the music and the people, especially the people.

 

Caught Moments …

 

Frightened girl.

Houston, Tx.


Badass dude in SF.

San Francisco. I didn’t notice the scowl until I saw the photo on the computer.


S0003501

San Francisco. When I saw this person she was sitting in an alley and having coffee and a cigarette with her boyfriend. They were playing around and kidding each other. When I starting taking photos her friend wanted to be in the shots and would lean over beside her. Finally, as I was about to leave, I got the photo of her and a kiss.


Mission District, San Francisco

San Francisco. Drama.


More drama.

More drama.


Castro District. San Francisco.

San Francisco. The girls were sleeping when I walked up, but they started laughing when they awoke and saw me in front of them with a camera. I wanted the sleeping photo, but am happy I got this one. And, who eats a carton of strawberries for breakfast?

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