If you’re following my photo stream on flickr, you know I’m not the one to post photographs of people. If I do, it’s either of my nephew Emil or once in a while of myself. Why is it like that? It’s not one only one reason for that. Fist I don’t have that many friends who willingly put themselves in front of the camera. Another reason is that I’m a bit shy. I have trouble asking people to step up and get in front of the camera so I can take a photo or ten of them.
Lots of photographers go even further; they photograph strangers. On flickr you can even find people doing projects like ‘100 strangers’ — where you photograph 100 strangers. If taking photos of friends and family wasn’t uncomfortable enough, how uncomfortable wouldn’t it be to photograph 100 different strangers?
I admire admire the one that can take photographs of totally strangers. I wish I could find some well hidden guts, walk with my head high and not fear anything. But that guts is well hidden. I’m way too shy. Thinking about walking up to a person and ask ‘hi, can I take a photograph of you?’ is a scary thought. Even photograph someone from a distance is making me uncomfortable.
So what do I think will happen if I do photograph strangers?
I have an idea in my mind that if I photograph someone from the distance they will notice and then walk up to me and ask what I’m doing. Maybe ask me to delete the photo… Anything can happen. Most likely nothing will happen, but my mind trust that so it seems.
I walk up to someone and ask I can take their photograph, they will either say yes or no. It’s as simple as that. But I’m not very good with small talk and I would have to talk to them. And I would most likely have to take more than one photo, because the settings on my camera isn’t right and then it will take time. The person will get impatient and everything will become very awkward.
So why am I ranting about my photographing person skills?
Last saturday when I went on my photowalk, I visited the opera. I didn’t go inside, but on top of the roof. And there were lots of people there. I wanted to photograph from the roof, but it was impossible to do so without catching some people in my lens. So I had to deal with fear.
I managed to leave the roof alive; no one attacked me. I don’t think they even noticed me and my camera. It was quite a distance between me and the people I photographed.
Below you can see the result.
1) A couple in love. And a seagull watching them. I was actually nervous when I took that photo. Afraid they would see me and question what I was doing.
2) Show and tell. A man pointing on something and probably tells a story too.
I see this as a start — a start to get out there and photograph people I don’t know. I know I have missed a lot of potentially great photographs by not stop and photograph but walk on instead. Why should I allow myself to do that anymore? There is no good reason.
What are your take on photographing strangers?