August 29, 2007

Shooting People
Part Four: People in Their Elements


Would You Buy Your Meat From This Man?
Taipei, Taiwan

Now we move to the last scenario; shooting people as they are in everyday life. Guards, festivals, parades, rallies and all sorts of other events are great but they occur too infrequently to be counted upon as a regular stock of photographs. Plus, there is an artificiality to them. They may look great and interesting, but both the photographer and the viewer knows that what they are seeing isn't quite "real life".

My friend, and one of my biggest photographic influences, is very fond of saying that photos should be of someone doing something. This is where we will start.

Brewing Chai
Mumbai, India


Doing something can mean a lot of things.

Doing something might mean people doing their jobs. This is quite typically a fairly non threatening subject as well, as people at work are most likely to be on their most pleasant behavior and they also might be more interested in what they are actually doing than in the person with the camera pointed their way. Also, if you are like me, you will find people at work to be both noble and interesting.

Pigs' Knuckles
Taipei, Taiwan


I am quite fortunate in that I live in a part of the world in which many small businesses are run out on the street, rather than being tucked away out of site. I am also lucky in that However, I am very sure that no matter where you live, there are good photo opportunities to be had of people taking care of business.

Now, as we are moving up on the difficulty scale, this is a good time to start thinking about taking more complex, interesting photos. Getting pleasant photos of interesting or good looking people, but which only show the people themselves, is fun and rewarding but it is also a little bit easy. If your photo is of nothing more than the person, ultimately, the question becomes what makes the photo? The photographer or the subject? In shooting someone in their environment, it is both important and beneficial to show not just the person, but the environment too.
Showing more than just the person adds the all important context and just importantly, it allows you to make the photo you own. In the long run, it also leads to much more interesting photos.



Master of His Craft
Yangoon, Myanmar

Once again, when you are out shooting people in their element, thinking outside of the box is to your great advantage.

Night Market Treats
Xindian, Taiwan

Small details which might otherwise go overlooked can make terrific subjects for a photo of a person at work.


Hands of a Betel Vendor
Yangoon, Myanmar

Conversely, showing someone to be a tiny part of a much bigger whole can often be something which is overlooked, but which can lead to great photos.

Nun Under Stupa
Bagan, Myanmar

Once you have been shooting a particular scene fairly regularly, it is a good option to mix things up a bit by using different angles,
Green Onion & Egg Pancakes
Xindian, Taiwan


choosing to focus on what is not the obvious subject,

Not Welcome Here
Taipei, Taiwan

or using extreme wide angles, from in close

Cotton Candy Man
Xindian, Taiwan

can all bring new life into older scenes. They can also keep you, as the photographer, feel as though you are taking more control over the photos, rather than simply catching what you see.

Getting specific moments, those which might be important to the people you are shooting, but easily overlooked by others
Moment of Purchase
Taipei, Taiwan

Came so Far for Beauty
Taipei, Taiwan

Applying Henna
Delhi, India


There are so many possibilities out in the real world; the quality and quantity of original photos you take is limited only by your imagination.





1 comment:

Sune said...

Hi Darren,
great to see a continue of the series. I'm not quite sure that I understand this sentence :

"I am quite fortunate in that I live in a part of the world in which many small businesses are run out on the street, rather than being tucked away out of site. I am also lucky in that However, I am very sure that no matter where you live, there are good photo opportunities to be had of people taking care of business."


Maybe it is just a stop lacking in this part :
"rather than being tucked away out of site. I am also lucky in that However,"