Sunday, October 05, 2008

Photographing people

Taking photographs of people can be tough. If you want good results you need to get in peoples faces. It takes a bit of courage, a bit of cheek, a bit of balls.

The problem is that a lot of people don't like being photographed, especially in their ordinary, everyday lives. This can be a problem if you like photographing people in their ordinary, everyday lives.

Mathematically, there is direct inverse proportion between how ordinary a situation is and the likelihood of someone saying 'no' to a picture request. So, if you're at a music festival you will find people smiling deliriously at you as you snap away. If you are down the high street on a wet Wednesday afternoon people will growl at you because you are obviously a weirdo.

Sadly, you can't persuade the steadfastly unwilling that a photograph of them dripping wet in their C&A raincoat is just what you're after.

But there are certain things you can do to give yourself a fighting chance of photographing Britain in its everyday unexcitedness.

Make eye contact, smile and wear a luminous workmen's jacket can all make things a little bit easier for you.

And there's also these two quotes from experienced photographers.

In a recent Photography Monthly article, Garry Cook said: "Think like a professional - be like a professional. If you are holding a camera, you are a photographer (at that moment anyway). So don't shuffle around apologetically."

And in an interview in the The Times Travel supplement , Martin Parr said: "Behave as if you've every right to be there."

Proof, as if it was needed, that great minds think alike.

NOTE: These photographs were taken on the streets of Bethlehem.