I'd say try to communicate with your subject a little. I think the flaws in these photos are really just because it was your first attempt and you were getting over the hump of actually asking somebody - so there wasn't much time to think about context and composition. I suspect many of mine are going to be similar when I get them developed.
Say something funny when you take their photo, ask them a question, make them think and then snap it while they're thinking or smiling. Posed photos can be a little lacking in character and emotion, so try to bring some element of spontaneity back into it. You want to have some kind of emotional connection with the subject when you shoot it, so that the viewer can then form that connection with the photo too.
And be mindful of your backgrounds too.
I got a really great piece of advice when I started taking portraits and that was to find your location first, with nice lighting and something interesting going on in the background (even if it's just a colourful background that will look nice when blurred out), and then wait for a suitable subject to wander into that zone, rather than seeking out a subject and then taking their photo where they're standing.
I'm no expert though and I'm still trying to put all of this into practice myself.
Thanks to most for your advise.
This thread has become a little silly with a person not receiving 50cent because I had no change.
Advise taken on board . Will improve.
Jean by Aware of the Void, on Flickr
Jean had the table next to a friend of mine at a market in the city last weekend. I had taken a couple of snaps of the market and we got chatting about photography. We eventually got onto the subject of portraits and she explained that she hated having her picture taken and that the photos never looked like her. I told her about my ongoing portraits of strangers project and I asked her to pose for a couple of shots so I could see if she liked them. She posed, I emailed.........I never heard back.
Not art? Tell that to the many well respected artists Paul Graham, Elliot Erwitt, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, etc who use the medium extensively.
And whilst I would disagree 100% with the above, in the context of this post, I do wonder what's the attraction of taking portraits of strangers in the street, almost all of them, rather unremarkable ?
Everyone has to start somewhere, no need to be so discouraging or arrogant with regard to someone else's work. Taking street shots is very daunting difficult to get started. Most people probably have no idea what or why they're shooting until they start.
You need to start before you can get any proper direction.
Eric Kim has a few good POV vids of shooting in the street. He has a very good pleasant manner about him which helps a lot I think. But I think the attitude is what makes it seem so easy. Get up close, don't be intrusive but don't try and hide what you're doing either. Make sure you're casual and it wont seem like a big deal to either party.
Fully agree. I was drunk and grumpy when posting.
I saw this recently on another photography group I use, its an interesting perspective that you don't always get.
This thread was inspired by an event that happened to me today. I felt that some things need to be clarified.
1) Just because you can legally do something doesn't mean you should.
2) Common sense should always be put above what you can wheedle out of the law.
The concept of "street photography" is supposed to capture the environment, however, a photographer should understand that respect for the subject matter is involved. As a photographer you are supposed to be "invisible," documenting what's around you. You are not supposed to be obviously following people, jeering, or invading people's personal space.
Not only should you respect the subject's personal space, but you should respect the subject as a person, because that's what they are. People have thoughts and feelings and you as the photographer are putting them in a vulnerable position by taking their photo so please treat it as such. You are not a higher being then them just because you are on the other side of the lens.
Most people will be fine with a photographer taking their photo for a street photography project so long as you approach the situation without arrogance or defensiveness. Remember, you just took a photo without asking the subject for permission, politeness and a simple explanation will usually defuse a situation. However, if for whatever reason the subject still asks you to delete the photo- you should. Even though in some cases you are not legally obligated to, you still should anyway. Why? Because it's not worth the hassle as well as you don't know that person's story. What if they're under a witness protection program and now that you're going to publicly post their photos somewhere their safety is in jeopardy? I know this is an extreme example, but the point is that if a person does not want their photo taken then they have their reasons and you should respect that. As well as the simple fact that there are literally billions of other people that you can photograph, life will go on.
Now for the reason why this post happened. Today I went with some friends to a festival and we were dressed festively. While yes, legally photographers are allowed to take photos of people at festivals without permission, it's still better to ask, especially when it's a group who are dressed special. Often times when people are dressed in a special way they prefer you to ask so that they can "pose" a certain way. It's very rude in these kind of communities (such as cosplay) not to ask.
While in line to get some food I was talking with a friend, suddenly an SLR camera was inches from my face. This is not an exaggeration, the camera was so close that the shutter sound and the on-camera flash scared me. Any photographer knows me knows that it would take an extreme situation for a camera flash to scare me. This arrogant jerk then turned the camera around to show me the "photo" he has taken. Because it was full sun outdoors the flash had completely blown out the extreme close up of my face and I had sunglasses on. The photo was a weird blown out blob with dark spots where my glasses and nostrils were. Super unattractive.
Naturally, I freaked the holy hell out on this guy. I openly admit it because I think anyone in their right mind in this situation would have done the same. Not only that but my friends around me started yelling at him and demanding that he delete the photo. His response was: "I'm on Google, don't worry about it. I'm a photographer." Don't worry about it. This is what infuriated me the most as he ran away. The response was so blase and inappropriate that I felt violated in a way.
Luckily he was stupid as he was smooth and had also told me his name so I could look him up, to be "impressed" with his photography skills I'm sure. All the photos in his Flickr are of people who clearly had a camera shoved in their face and don't look pleased about it. I'm fairly certain I'm not the only person he has royally pissed off.
Which brings me back to my main point- saying that you are a "street photographer" is not an excuse to be a complete douche nozzle devoid of humility and manners. As a street photographer you do not have the permission of your subjects, unlike model photographers, and you should treat the situation with that much more awareness and respect. (and please don't say "being out in public gives permission!" that's not what we're discussing here.)
To discuss what is the definition of being a "real" street photographer? What do you feel is necessary in order to successfully accomplish this style of photography? And most importantly: how do you handle interacting with the subjects you are shooting?
*Please refer to numbers 1 and 2 in this post, this is not a game of "pretend lawyer" time. I have read the Illinois photography laws and am well aware of them. Copy pasta laws is not going to be considered staying on topic. Thank you.*
Also PM me if you would like to know who the offending person is.
(Taken from another forum on another site - but like I said its a perspective you don't always get)
Oh that's Killegar! Lovely pic.
I agree that people should just bite the bullet. I have friends who do the whole "sneaky picture" thing, which I don't really like doing myself. Mainly because I'd feel like a bit of a creeper if they caught me! My approach is have a quick chat with the person, 9 times out of 10 they will oblige.
an interesting wrinkle on this - take someone's photo without their knowledge, and use it for a billboard ad campaign, and hope no one will object because they're due a prize?